Photo by Jørgen True.
The Danish Media Council (the awareness centre of the Danish Safer Internet Centre) initiated a large-scale project in autumn 2020 on how 0-6-year-olds interact with digital technologies. As part of the project, the Media Council is currently developing and testing a range of materials in collaboration with selected daycare and kindergarten professionals, children, parents and carers, and health visitors from all over the country.
Today, even the youngest of children might easily be able to handle digital technologies such as tablets and smartphones, and it can seem both impressive and frightening at once. However, the ability to play games or watch videos does not automatically entail the development of a critical approach and awareness of one’s options in relation to digital media. These skills – which are crucial for children, young people and even adults – are often considered an important part of media literacy skills.
The goal of this timely, all-encompassing project is to strengthen children’s critical approach, confidence, sense of online safety, creativity, and awareness in the use of digital technology in their future life. The focus of the project is the qualification of professionals working with 0-6-year-olds and providing parents and carers with accessible information.
The role of municipalities
In Denmark, the focus on media literacy for young children is continuing to grow. Municipalities across the country are beginning to focus on digital media and young children. With this project, the Media Council works in close collaboration with professionals from four municipalities in order to strengthen their and others’ continuing work with media literacy projects for 0-6-year-olds. The four municipalities play a crucial role in the project, as they are involved in the development and testing of the materials.
Among other things, the project will focus on teaching children about digital safety and give them the possibility to be creative, to explore and experiment with digital technologies in social contexts. A central theme of the project is the importance of looking at the content, context and connection (rather than screen time) when it comes to digital media and children.
A Danish context
In Denmark, almost all children will be in private or public daycare (approximately 1-2-year-olds) and kindergarten (approximately 3-5-year-olds) until they start school at about the age of six. During these early years, children spend a big part of their day with daycare and kindergarten professionals. A Danish study conducted by Aarhus University in 2020 shows that about 90 per cent of these facilities use digital technologies, but what varies is how exactly they are being used and with what goal. Danish children also interact with digital technology at home from a very young age. As early as 2014, a study from the Danish Broadcasting Corporation revealed that approximately 90 per cent of all children had access to a tablet within the household.
Furthermore, while the frequency varies in different municipalities, a health visitor (a trained nurse) will visit families with newborns to do check-ups and give advice regarding their children’s well-being. Parents, as well as different types of professionals, play a crucial role in the lives of young children as well. Therefore, when focusing on media literacy of 0-6-year-olds, one should include not only parents, but also the professionals who work specifically with that age group.
About the project
This project will provide parents and carers of 0-6-year-olds with knowledge and guidance on children and digital media, while taking into consideration the perspective of children themselves. It will result in the publication of informative materials for health visitors, a guide for parents, a collection of relevant information, and a series of activities that can be used by professionals in daycare and kindergarten facilities, as well as by parents at home.
The Media Council will release the materials in April 2022, whereby professionals across the country will be able to find inspiration in the activities and recommendations for their future work with media literacy. Likewise, parents with young children can find advice and guidance in the materials. The project is realised with the support of the Danish philanthropic foundation Nordea-fonden.
Lastly, the Media Council is also conducting a national survey among parents with children aged 0-6. The findings of this survey will also be disclosed in April 2022.
Find out more about the work of the Danish Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.