Using technology effectively to engage with our family, friends, co-workers and society has become a key competence in today’s reality. The Ministry for Education’s Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills is working closely with the Council of Europe (CoE) on a Digital Citizenship Education (DCE) project. The project is aimed at empowering children to acquire the necessary competences to become digital citizens able to use digital tools ethically and responsibly to participate and interact in society.
The development of digital citizenship competences relies on values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and critical understanding. Parents have a central role in supporting children to develop these areas. The findings of a survey conducted by the CoE in 2020 offer insight into parents’ views, particularly how they are supporting their children to acquire the necessary competences in becoming responsible digital citizens, as well as parents’ concerns related to the digital world.
The survey also investigated sources parents use to look for information and the kind of tools and guidance they would like to have available. Maltese parents contributed to 3,778 out of the 21,042 responses gathered, making Malta the country with the second largest number of participants.
Maltese parents contributed to 3,778 out of the 21,042 responses gathered
Overall, parents were most concerned about bullying, privacy and their children’s understanding of their online rights and responsibilities. A significant number of parents – between 70 and 80 per cent – reported that they check the websites, apps and games their children use. Most parents said they set rules about technology use within their families, with the most popular rules being that children are to talk to their parents when something online upsets them, not online shopping unless in the presence of parents, and obtaining parental permission before sharing personal information online.
Only one in three parents said they apply screen-time rules. This could be due to the fact that the survey was carried out at a time where most schooling was taking place remotely, and people were spending more time indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DCE survey highlighted the high take-up of coding in Malta. However, other digital competencies, including critical thinking, fact-checking, content creation and issues relating to respecting copyright and the work of others seem to be much less of an issue among the participating parents. These areas constitute fundamental skills that today’s and tomorrow’s digital citizens need to be helped to acquire, and these need to be addressed both in our schools as well as within the home setting.
For this reason, both educators and parents need to be equipped with the right information, competences and strategies to tackle elements of digital citizenship education. This will enable them to help students master the necessary digital and social competences to be able to participate responsibly and interact with others in society. The full survey report can be accessed at https://www.coe.int/en/web/education/-/digital-citizenship-education-survey-2020-provisional-report.
The Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills embraces the concept of digital citizenship education and has been constantly collaborating with various entities, such as the BeSmartOnline consortium, the University of Malta and the Council of Europe’s DCE Promoters Network. The DDLTS is also working on DCE resources for educators and will also be providing professional development sessions for educators and information sessions for parents.
For further information on Digital Citizenship Education initiatives being carried out by the DDLTS at primary level visit the website below.
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