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In this presentation, we report on the findings from the Belgian MiniMedia project and focus on two challenges related to parental mediation and dissemination.
Firstly, we investigate how parents mediate their young children’s media use, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The findings of our 2015 survey study in which 696 Flemish parents of children aged 3 to 5 participated, suggest that toddlers are usually shielded from or strictly supervised when using digital media, except for tablets. Parents believe that the usability of the tablet makes them an ideal educative and relatively safe tool. However, reading does not belong to the top 3 digital activities. According to their parents, toddlers have a strong preference for traditional paper books over digital books. Additionally, in our qualitative study  involving 24 Flemish parents and 36 children aged 3 to 9, we revealed the complex, dynamic and often paradoxical nature of parental mediation practices. Although parents don’t like their child to be too absorbed in digital play at the expense of a healthy balance in leisure activities, exceptions are allowed when media usage serves educational goals or is a convenient way of occupying the young child.
Secondly, together with the Flemish organization Mediawijs.be, we are contributing to the conceptualization, design and evaluation of an online platform that provides reliable information, trusted advice, and innovative tools with respect to digital literacy and children to a wide variety of stakeholders, including parents (with children aged 0-18) and caregivers (e.g., grandparents, teachers). Dissemination insights are gained in participatory way, accounting for input from envisioned end-users, scholars, and public policy experts.
In sum, with the MiniMedia project, we aim to
1) Provide a better understanding of ways in which parents create the conditions for fostering the potential of digital media for young children whilst avoiding negative effects;
2) Share best practices regarding the dissemination of information on digital literacy to parents and other stakeholders, helping them discovering the power of digital media as a positive force in children’s lives.
//ECREA pre-conference strand on "Digital literacy of young children", co-hosted by David Smahel from the ECREA TWG on Children, Youth and Media, and Jacky Marsh from the COST ACTION IS1410 DigiLitEY.