Just released, Learning in the Family is a research report that looks at looks at Parental Engagement in Children’s Learning with Technology. Funded by a Becta Research Grant to support the DCSF Harnessing Technology strategy, the research approach included two online surveys with over 4600 children supported by interviews with children and their families.
The study looks more closely at the nature of collaboration at home between parents and children, and asks:
- How do parents engage with children learning with new technology?
- How can fathers and mothers better support their children’s learning?
The sample group were from families that make use of Intuitive Medias IM’s Protected Learning Communities (SuperClubsPLUS or GoldStar-Cafe), which provide for over 150,000 UK children aged 6 – 14 years, and over 16,000 of their teachers. As a consequence, the sample is biased towards more informed and regular users of ICTs.
There’s a lot of worthwile information in this report – and the layout helps you access it quite easily, with key findings summarised in the initial part for ease of access, and the more detailed description of the research methodology and presentation of data sets also included further on in the document.
A key finding is summarised at the beginning:
It is clear from this research that many children use the Internet at home with their parents. Their mothers are particularly engaged with their homework and formal learning and take an interest in their online safety. Fathers join in to a lesser extent but encourage children with the fun aspects and help them with their hobbies.
As ICTs are increasingly a part of what our students experience at home as well as at school, it is timely that some attention is given to the role that parents play in working with and alongside their sons and daughters. The report reveals interesting trends in the nature and extent of use of ICTs at home by children, and also about the level of involvement of parents in how ICTs are used, including:
Use of internet at home:
- Overall children spend most of their Internet time for socializing, play and their own re- search rather than for formal learning and homework.
- On a typical school day, nearly six in ten go online as soon as they come home from school (58%). Slightly fewer children use the internet after their evening meal (56%).
- On a typical school day, these children spend twice as much time on their computers as they do watching television.
- When children use the internet at home, the majority say that someone else is in the room with them (63%).
- Most children were supervised by their mothers (44%), followed by father (35%) and siblings (25%).
- Nearly half the children use the internet in a communal family space (49%), but one third use it in their own bedrooms (30%).
- Of those who used the Internet in the privacy of their own bedrooms, 53% were boys and 47% were girls. with fun activities.
How do parents help?
- Parents are most likely to help with technical problems on the computer and with using the internet for formal learning and homework.
- Unfortunately, children report, a large minority of parents get irritated with their children for staying on the internet for too long or for asking questions or asking for help.
- Mums were twice as popular as helpers with 50% of children choosing Mum to help, versus 22% choosing dad.
In all the families interviewed, the parents restricted the child’s Internet access – half of them through direct supervision and a quarter each by restricting the sites children visit or by using site-blocking software. Three quarters of the mothers said they knew mostly every- thing that their children did on the Internet.
All the parents interviewed thought it was important to help children with the internet because of its relevance in society. They also see it as an vital learning tool. Some parents stressed that the internet is only one among many things they help their children with, and they see helping children learn as an essential aspect of parenting.