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Digital media in the family: opportunities and challenges


NB Language spoken is English unless only Dutch-speaking students participate


Digital media are developing at alarming speed and have severely changed family life over the past couple of decades. Research into the effects of digital media is being conducted but researchers are having a hard time keeping up with developments.
In the meantime, implications for child rearing are substantial. For instance, how do social media affect family life and child development? How important is parental guidance in the use of social media, and what kind of parental guidance is effective rather than counter-productive? What are the effects of social media on forming friendships and on self-image?
Given the constant distractions of ongoing notifications, messages, pop-ups etc., we will debate whether social media restrict children’s concentration skills or, on the contrary, stimulate the development of multi-tasking skills that are going to be necessary in the future.

Furthermore, the role of digital media in the development of problem behavior will be discussed. Research conducted in the past focused on the effect of watching violence on television or in the cinema, but what happens when children actively participate in violent computer games? Besides the effects of digital media on child development, consequences for parenting are discussed. To what extent should parents monitor children’s media activities and how can they protect their children from potential negative effects? Is it possible for parents to guard their children from covert advertising, and what are the dangers of children or teenagers watching sexually explicit internet material?

Besides discussing the best ways for parents to guide their children using digital media, we will also investigate whether digital media can be of use to parents with child rearing questions.

During this course, we will study the most recent scientific research in order to evaluate the risks and opportunities of digital media in the family.

Course objectives

  • To get acquainted with the risks and opportunities of digital media in the family.

  • To explore ways in which parents can influence media behavior of their children.

  • To explore ways in which digital media can be a helpful addition to child rearing.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

During this course, active participation is required. Each week, we will investigate one aspect of digital media in the family. In subgroups or individually, students will complete a weekly assignment and report back during the scheduled meetings. The results will be followed by a plenary discussion.

Assessment method

Weekly assignments
Students will complete an assignment each week. Assignments will be graded and a final grade will be calculated. In order to pass the course the final grade needs to be 5,5 or higher.


During this course Brightspace will be used.

Reading list

Titles of literature to be used will be announced on Brightspace.


Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register via My Studymap up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.

The exam consists of assignmentsassignment, so you do not need to register in My Studymap.

Contact information

Co-ordinator of this course is dr. Lenny van Rosmalen.
Contact and questions: until one hour after the course, as well as before the lecture and during the break.