Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Information science (social aspects)

Publication Details

Paper presented at Annual Merriman Summer School, 'Changing Irish Childhoods', 17th to 21st August 2011, Lisdoonvarna. Director: Professor Nóirín Hayes.


Digital technologies and the widespread adoption of the internet have given rise to an unprecedented social transformation that is having a profound impact on childhood today. While debate continues on the precise nature of its effects and the extent to which we can refer to a distinctly different ‘digital’ generation, there is growing consensus that the centrality of new modes of sociality and new ways of communicating online in children’s lives today are shaping new contours of risk and of opportunity. This paper examines some of the myths and the facts about children's use of the internet in Ireland today as revealed in the EU Kids Online survey of children’s use of the internet across Europe. It also explores ideas of media ecology and how they may help us understand the opportunities, challenges and risks of growing up in today's digital environment. Does the concept of media education that evolved in the era of Telstar have the same relevance for the children of Facebook? What are the implications for policy makers today and how can we ensure that the information society remains an inclusive and positive phenomenon in the lives of children?