Last updated: 02.01.17

Child protection: Is digital technology helping or harming?

Digital technology is a brilliant tool for healthcare professionals. In the past couple of years there have been huge developments in hardware including mobile accessibility, allowing users to communicate anywhere, anytime, as long as they have internet connection.

However, with this growth in technology, concerns have arisen, particularly surrounding child protection and social media.

Cyberbullying is something that has increased with this advancement. While the media tends to focus more on online sexual victimisation, young adults and children are at more risk of cyberbullying.

According to Michelle Wright, research associate at Pennsylvania State University, generally restrictive mediation of a childs use of digital technology is positively associated with cyberbullying and psychosocial problems, whereas associations were negative for co-viewing mediation and instructive mediation.

Ms Wright argues that restrictive mediation is linked to overprotective parenting which in fact limits children from developing problem-solving skills and social skills.

When it comes to safeguarding children from damaging material, although a website may have a well-developed safeguarding policy, there could be issues in terms of the practice response to child protection concerns.

Although digital technology can be used to provide valuable support to families, it comes with many challenges.

Another concern about the protection of children is how easily birth relatives can search for and contact on another virtually, doing so without support from healthcare professionals. This can be damaging, especially when the person who is contacted is in a vulnerable position.

Threats from digital technology-based harms and the response they generate are often dependant on a number of factors, particularly his or her circumstances. In addition to this, efficiency of an intervention may vary according to the form that it takes.

Difficulties in managing child protection concerns may also heighten when communication takes place digitally.