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Working paper Open Access

Integration of digital technologies in families with children aged 5-10 years: A synthesis report of four European country case studies

Kapella, Olaf; Schmidt, Eva Maria; Vogl, Susanne

This working paper reports on central findings regarding the question of how family life is shaped by digital technology (DT), how it is reflected in ‘doing family’ and how it impacts the well-being of children and families. It is based on empirical work conducted in four countries, namely Austria, Estonia, Norway and Romania. Each country focused on two age groups of children: (1) children between five and six years and still in kindergarten, and (2) children aged between 8 and 10 years and already in primary school. In the fieldwork, each participating country pursued two methodological approaches and conducted (1) focus groups with children and (2) individual interviews with at least three members of one family, including at least one child from the age groups of interest in WP3. Results revealed that families in our data represent a great variance in assessing and integrating DT in their daily family lives and how DT supports ‘doing family’ as a daily practice in many ways. However, results also reflect their potential to affect children’s vulnerability. On the one hand, DT can contribute to exacerbating the vulnerability of children or to the emergence of new vulnerabilities, particularly when children lack digital competences. On the other hand, children’s use of DT can also help to reduce their vulnerability, particularly when their digital competence serves as a resilience-enhancing factor. Our data also revealed children’s and families’ awareness of multiple beneficial and harmful effects of DT in diverse areas, and some good practices of children at the age of 5 to 10 years that contribute to their own well-being or the well-being of other family members. Based on these results, the report also comprises several recommendations on how to support families with regard to DT.

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