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Children and media in a digital world

How do we balance children’s rights to cultural and social freedom with our duty to protect them from abuse and exploitation while also promoting a healthy and active lifestyle for children and young people? 

One of the themes that will be discussed at the Child in the City World Conference is ‘Children and young people and media’. In this article, Ali Mahlodji, one of the keynote speakers, shares his thoughts on children, digital and physical play. 

Children and young people and media

“In today’s world it is really important to have places where kids can play. They all have mobile phones and iPads but we need to focus on much more on their core needs and playing and making good experiences is the core, and cities can contribute to that,” says Mahlodji. 

When it comes to social media platforms’ responsibilities towards children, Ali believes that social media platforms need to understand that their role is ‘much much more than a gatekeeper’. “For a lot of kids out there social media is the world. These social media platforms never understood their responsibility and they haven’t. They need to care for the kids, build filters and need to understand how the kids are viewing the world. Social media is much more than just a website.”

The world of social media, he adds, is currently a very crowded, noisy place where people ‘don’t know how to consume news’.

“But when you think of children and the youth, for them it’s not a new thing – they are totally native to these platforms. And what we need to understand as adults, if we really want to talk to these kids, is that we need to talk to their emotions in the real world but also in the social media world. We need to also understand how they consume information. To engage children and increase their participation we need to put information for them into their formats.”

The Child in the City World Conference takes place September 24-26 in Vienna, Austira. The following three parallel sessions will explore the theme ‘Children and young people and media’: Children’s perspectives, Media literacy, and Planning media projects. Register for the conference here.

Author: Julia Zvobgo

Julia Zvobgo is a Cultural Anthropologist and the Community Manager of Child in the City.

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