A full recording of this panel is available on YouTube. View it here.
On Wednesday 26th May, the Family Online Safety Institute hosted its 2021 European Forum. Stephen Balkam, FOSI CEO, moderated the conversation between foremost experts in child psychology, wellbeing, and online play. He was joined by Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Richard Graham of Good Thinking: The London Digital Mental Wellbeing Service, Laura Higgins of Roblox, and Rukayah Sarumi of the LEGO Group.
The panelists began their conversation by reflecting on some of the changes in play that they observed throughout the pandemic. Young children have adapted and remained resilient, often by using technology to maintain social connection and build communities online. Debates about screen time have evolved and parents are now looking at children’s daily tech use in comparison to other healthy behaviors like adequate sleep, nutrition, and socialization.
The conversation pivoted to how diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts make a difference in early childhood play. Research has shown that children from disadvantaged backgrounds often lack access to safe areas for outside play, and thus spend more time on screens for entertainment. This reiterates the importance of creating more high-quality content for kids. Panelists agreed on the importance of closing the digital divide and ensuring all children have access to online opportunities and educational materials.
The panel shared the different social, cognitive, creative, and emotional skills that kids gain when they play online, such as developing a sense of agency and conflict resolution, both of which can be transferred to different experiences in the real world.
To conclude, panelists discussed the rising concerns that parents have as kids transition back to in-person education and how best to maintain the benefits that have come from remote schooling. Encouraging digital citizenship and digital literacy was reiterated by all panelists as a priority for governments and industry around the world.