Parents, caregivers identify needs on digital technology for education
The crucial role of parents and caregivers in education has been highlighted in the past two years. For instance, as children continued their learning during the pandemic, their parents served as learning facilitators at home. But parents and caregivers often raise concerns about their capability to teach their children, especially with digital technology which has become pivotal to learning in the new normal.
A recent study conducted by SEAMEO INNOTECH among selected parents and caregivers in five Southeast Asian countries supports the general observation about their need to be better equipped with digital skills and, eventually, gain more confidence in supporting their children’s online learning. Parents and caregivers from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam were asked about their current level of familiarity and skills in using mobile devices and accessing online platforms, their understanding and appreciation of their role in their children’s learning and development, their perception of digital opportunities and threats, and their insights on how parents can better support their children as a learning partner.
Familiarity and skills in digital media
The study, which combined focus group discussions and a survey, showed that parents have basic skills in using mobile devices and online platforms. However, they are using them for very different purposes other than education. And while their familiarity with digital media can help them support their children’s online learning, they still want to be better equipped with digital skills.
According to UNESCO’s Digital Kids Asia-Pacific (DKAP) Framework, digital competencies are classified into five domains:
- Digital Literacy – the ability to seek, evaluate, and use digital tools and information;
- Digital Safety and Resilience – the ability to protect oneself and others from harm in the digital space;
- Digital Participation and Agency – the ability to interact and positively influence society through information and communications technology (ICT);
- Digital Emotional Intelligence – the ability to recognize and express emotions in digital interactions; and
- Digital Creativity and Innovation – the ability to express oneself through content creation using ICT.
Out of these five domains, the INNOTECH study revealed that parents need further tools related to Digital Literacy, Digital Safety and Resilience, and Digital Emotional Intelligence to enable them to better guide their children’s digital media use.
Digital opportunities and threats
During the online survey and focus group discussions with parents and caregivers, INNOTECH found out that most of them agree that digital technology helps children to learn and access information. Digital technologies also provide an avenue for children to interact with their peers, especially during the height of the pandemic.
Nonetheless, most parents also agree that children’s use of digital media and gadgets should be regulated and monitored. They stressed the importance of protecting their children from various online risks, such as exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, misinformation, and excessive screen time.
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Support to children’s learning
Based on the study, one of the primary concerns of parents during online classes revolved around providing their children with a conducive learning environment to ensure that they would have a positive, meaningful, and optimized learning experience. Parents shared that they actively supported and monitored their children’s school performance. They also developed a good relationship with the teachers, allowing them to work together toward their children’s learning and holistic development.
For some countries, providing socio-emotional care is also one of the parents’ top priorities. Parents recognize that taking care of their children’s socio-emotional wellbeing contributes to their learning and overall development.
Taking all this into consideration, INNOTECH, under the Digital Technology for Education (DT4E), is currently developing a set of knowledge resources for parents and caregivers. These knowledge products intend to improve the digital literacy of parents and caregivers, provide information on children’s online risks and safety; parenting in the digital age and other suggest strategies for parents in becoming better and more efficient learning partners. The results of the recent survey and discussions with parents and caregivers will be incorporated into the development of DT4E knowledge resources. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming months.