Parents, teachers, society – all of us involved in children’s education have to join forces and learn to work together. We’re all part of a triangle with our children right in the centre. 

European Parents Association.

Well-being is a universal concept closely related to citizenship that relates to our capacity to:

  • realise our full potential;
  • cope with the normal stresses of our environment;
  • work and communicate productively and fruitfully;
  • make a meaningful contribution to our community.
     

 


WHAT CHILDREN SAY

I feel that people need the freedom to be able to share their knowledge and opinions without the fear of being harmed for doing so. Everyone should have the right to express themselves for who they truly are, and should not feel constricted by today’s discriminative society. 

Katie, 15, England


When we consider well-being in the light of digital citizenship, it is especially useful for teachers, parents and children themselves to take a closer look at the “Maslow hierarchy of needs”.1
 

This aligns in many ways with the Council of Europe’s digital citizenship competence framework, as children cannot move on to the next layer of their citizenship skills if they have not satisfied the earlier level of competences. The basic skills of listening, observing and co-operating, for example, are stepping stones to the cognitive skills of knowledge and critical understanding. Shared community values and attitudes such as justice, fairness, equality and civil mindedness enable us to fulfil many of the requirements for self-actualisation and fulfilment.

Figure 10: Maslow hierarchy of needs


WHAT TEACHERS SAY

The importance is how digital citizenship and competences are represented at each different age. During early childhood, children need to integrate competences such as civic mindedness, contesting the status quo and calling into question things they encounter, see or hear. 

Teacher, Riga


Technology has intricately woven itself into almost every strand of our daily life, making it essential for citizens to be constantly aware of the challenges and conscious need for balance to counteract the more negative aspects of the digital world. Interestingly, some forward-looking countries such as Canada, Germany and the United Arab Emirates have now set up happiness and well-being ministries as governments gradually understand that it is a top priority for citizens to be actively and positively involved in their on- and offline community. As one such minister from Mannheim, Germany, points out:

 With inspiring events and lively activities such as interventions in public spaces, street art, workshops in schools and companies, I call on people to ask themselves what it means to them to lead a good life – and to become actively involved in creating a good life. 
 


WHAT PARENTS SAY

I’m worried about the impact on human contact, the development of social skills, physical and emotional health and lack of interest in non-media pursuits such as sports, outdoor activities, hobbies, clubs, involvement in local community, school performance and work. I believe that if used correctly, media can be a useful tool, but it requires learning and management.

Parent, France


1 Maslow A. H. (1954), Motivation and personality, Harper and Row, New York.