Digital Critics

Discriminating use of digital technology

These families were very discriminating in their use of digital technology.

They felt it was important to resist digital dependence, but saw it as a requirement to achieve economic and cultural capital (education).

While they used social media, there were largely social spectators online.

 

Culture of Digital Technology Use

In these households, internet access was controlled through use of clear rules about time online and social media use, and at the same time children also rationalised that too much time online could have mental health consequences. They therefore regulated their own access.

 

Both parents and children placed a high value on achieving an education, and saw digital technology use as a requirement for school and work. In this way they used digital technology in order to enhance their economic outlook, viewing it as a set of tools to access and exchange information. They valued having instant access to information that supported personal and educational well-being. At the same time, they believed that too much use of digital technology diminished children's cognitive and critical thinking skills. Parents felt education was becoming generic and failing to building the critical skills that children will need in the future. They believed that social media could be toxic and prevent children from developing basic relationship skills, and were wary of conducting real relationships online. These households generally had a good level of digital expertise in the home, and access to good institutional IT training and support.

Outcomes

These families were more focused on achieving cultural capital (qualifications) and used digital technology to do so, while resisting dependence on online communication platforms. They did not seek to build other forms of capital such as social, political or personal capital in the online space, which might bring further benefits. These households were focused on building critical thinking skills at home, and sought a balance between on and offline life.

As with most families there was low mobilization of social or political capital online. However, these families considered public online spaces as toxic and damaging to their mental health and well-being and so were largely spectators on social media.

The children in these families were aiming to get further education, as their parents had, and to pursue professional or managerial work that contributed to community well-being, roles which required efficient use of digital technology but which would allow contact with people and communities.