How to deal with new media within the family

  • Awareness
  • 23/11/2017
  • Austrian Safer Internet Centre

Saferinternet.at, part of the Austrian Safer Internet Centre (SIC), has updated its popular brochure "Medien in der Familie". This updated resource aims to help parents to deal with the digital challenges which they may encounter in everyday life.

The everyday use of technology by families has changed a lot over recent years. Children use digital media from an early age, integrating the internet, smartphone and similar into their daily lives. However, this often causes conflict within families, and issues can arise from a lack of understanding. Instagram, YouTube and computer games, for instance, are perceived as being disruptive to family life; parents are often concerned about the risks but lack knowledge on how to deal with the challenges. Saferinternet.at has therefore cooperated with the Ministry for Family and Youth Affairs (BMFJ) to update its guidance on using media within the family setting.

Figure 1: Children complain more often about their parents being inattentive to them and instead excessively using their smartphones. A new chapter was therefore included on that issue. Credits: CC BY 4.0 Finnish National Audiovisual Institute

The updated brochure provides 17 chapters on the digital everyday, with chapter headings as follows:

  • The smartphone is more interesting than the child (new!)
  • Yesterday Facebook, today WhatsApp. And tomorrow ...?
  • Dream job: YouTuber (new!)
  • My child watches TV excessively
  • The first smartphone
  • Commercialisation of childhood
  • SOS - my child watches porn videos
  • But that's just for fun! (cyber-mobbing)
  • I can't shut it off! (online addiction)
  • Fake news online
  • Cinema for "free"– now! (streaming and file sharing)
  • Reading without books?
  • Love 2.0 (sexuality and internet)
  • Normally brutal (computer games and violence)
  • More than toys to play (new!)

Figure 2: How do you deal with the situation when a child wants to meet strangers for a game outside like Pokémon Go?
The challenges of the digital are increasingly linked to the concrete of the everyday.
Credits: CC BY 4.0 Finnish National Audiovisual Institute

Much has changed in this edition. Since its original publication back in 2012, the topics at stake have evolved broadly. This revision tackles many new issues, such as the commercialisation of childhood. Likewise, in 2012, the first chapter was titled "All about Facebook – Social Networks", whereas today the scope of social networks is far broader. The approach of Saferinternet.at is therefore to advise parents to show interest in the digital everyday of their child. It also emphasises the responsibility of parents from a legal perspective to decide on whether and how social networks are used. The brochure offers checklists for parents to follow, for instance, from the moment their child decides to use social networks.

Also new in this edition is information on the phenomenon and influence of YouTube, with many young people wishing to upload and gain celebrity status using the platform. The guide provides advice on how to react as a parent, along with legal information concerning copyright and privacy.

In addition, a further focus provided by the guide is on the opportunities that digital media might offer for young people beside the fun factor. A list of resources on learning and other knowledge-driven platforms is offered for children from primary school age, as well as young people aged 10-18.

See further information and download the resource from the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) resource gallery.

Find out more about the work of the Austrian Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.


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