Recently, Tiana Murray (an early career primary school teacher) and I had an article published in the journal, Digital Culture and Education, which examines what 10-12 year old children think of the internet. We published it in an online open access journal which I think is a fantastic venue for this research as it allowed us to publish a sample of the children’s artwork about the internet. These beautifully demonstrate the children’s ambivalence; the internet is depicted as both being a joyous place and a place of danger. The article can be accessed here and the abstract and selected children’s artworks appear below.
While children are living more of their lives online, little is known about what they understand about the implications of their online participation. Here we report on the Best Footprint Forward project which explored how children come to understand the internet. Thirty-three children (ranging in age from 10 to 12 years old) from three primary schools in regional Australia participated in focus groups and created a work sample depicting the internet. Analysis of the focus group transcripts and work samples revealed that while the children’s understanding of the internet was not technical, their knowledge was developed through the social activities that they engaged in online, and influenced by the interactions they have in their ‘real life’ with parents, teachers and friends. The children in the study demonstrated an ambivalence about the internet; they regularly went online for a variety of purposes but these positive experiences were tempered by concerns and fears. This research presents a nuanced perspective of children’s knowledge of the internet; by rejecting the notion that children are naïve, passive consumers of digital culture, analysis of their understanding reveals it to be balanced and sophisticated.
Internet, children, digital culture, education, agency