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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 last 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? We will discuss the effects of social media on forming friendships and on self-image. How important is parental guidance in the use of social media, and what kind of parental guidance is effective rather than counter-productive? 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? For instance, 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.



Mode of instruction

Lectures will last approximately two hours and during the remaining (third) hour students will participate in an interactive workgroup.

Assessment method

Students will work on a digital media project in which they provide parenting advice regarding one aspect of child rearing in a digital environment. The project will primarily be based on knowledge gained by attending the lectures, and will be further expanded by thoroughly researching the chosen topic further. The project will contain two parts, which will each be graded separately:

(1) parental advice through a digital medium of choice (e.g., website, app, video) (2) a paper including scientific support for the content of the advice and the mode of delivery (i.e., through which medium).

Students will receive one final grade for the Digital Media Project in which both of these components are taken into account (parental advice 30%, scientific paper 70%). In order to pass the course, each component has to be graded 6 or higher.


During this course Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

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


Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for lectures, seminars, exams and re-exams. Student who do not register, cannot attend courses or take exams.


  • Registration for the lectures of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the seminars of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first seminar at the latest.


Student must register for each exam through uSis. This is only possible until 10 calendar days before the exam. More information on exam registration

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.