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Left to their own devices: Parenting in a digital world - free UC public talk

16 July 2021

Our ability to connect and communicate helps us to thrive and contribute to society in meaningful ways. What can parents do today to ensure a bright future for our tamariki in a fast-changing digital world?


Join us at UC’s Ilam campus on Wednesday night, 21 July, for an important conversation about the role of digital devices in learning and our children’s lives. Several University of Canterbury (UC) academics, educators and parents, from the College of Education, Health and Human Development, will discuss their personal parenting strategies around digital technology from their various perspectives and fields of research. They will explore how digital technologies have influenced our children’s lives, both positively and negatively, followed by an audience Q&A.

Digital technology has a profound effect on every aspect of our lives. The impact on our young people is especially significant. With children exposed to digital technologies at both home and school from an increasingly young age, tamariki are becoming the most frequent users of emerging online and digital services.

Parents play a pivotal role in supporting and guiding their children to safely navigate these new experiences. Living and learning in a digital world offers significant opportunities but has also highlighted concern around the influence of technology on young children. Parents have had to quickly build new skills and develop a deeper understanding of technology to help guide and support young people as they traverse these changing worlds.

Drawing from their own research and personal experience as parents, these UC experts will share their approaches and strategies for the effective use of digital technology. This balanced discussion will critically examine the role of technology, and where parents can draw on the benefits of technology while mitigating risks.

The following panellists will share their expertise in digital education, cognitive development, well-being and inclusion, and indigenous youth and community, and explore their hopes and concerns about how technology will shape our young people’s future:

  • Associate Professor Cheryl Brown (parent to teenage boys) – Digital literacy and digital citizenship
  • Associate Professor Kathryn MacCallum (parent of primary-school-aged boys) – Mixed reality, virtual worlds and mobile learning
  • Mel Tainui (parent of teenage girls) – Kaiārahi, College of Education, Health and Human Development,  Ōnuku Marae Treaty expert, UC Master of Māori and Indigenous Leadership (with Merit)
  • Senior Lecturer Dr Christoph Teschers (parent of preschoolers) – Media literacy, inclusion, wellbeing, living “a good and beautiful life”
  • Associate Professor Alison Arrow (parent of teenage girls) – Digital technology and literacy learning in home and educational settings

Moderated by Dr Billy Osteen, (also a parent) Associate Professor of Community Engagement and Director of the UC Community Engagement Hub | Te Pokapū Pāhekoheko Hapori at the University of Canterbury.

UC Connect public talk: Left to their own devices - Parenting in a digital world (digital strategies for children’s learning)  Presented by UC College of Education, Health and Human Development educators and parents, from 7pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 21 July 2021– C1 lecture theatre in C-Block, Ilam campus, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. Find out more about UC's free public lectures here.

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