Dialogues on Social Enterprise Episode 12

The ABCs of digital citizenship:
Preparing children for the information age

by Maira Luordo, with the collaboration of Riccardo Casella

Technological advancement has marked the entry into an era in which digitization permeates every aspect of daily life, raising fundamental questions about the impact of digital interactions from an early age. This context calls for critical analysis and in-depth reflection on the role technology plays in child development, underscoring the need for a balanced approach that seizes the educational opportunities offered by the digital while mitigating the risks associated with it.


Beginning the digital citizenship journey in the early years of life proves essential to prepare boys and girls to become informed and responsible navigators of cyberspace. This effort involves the adoption of safe and ethical technology use practices, fostering the development of early digital awareness. The goal is to create a solid foundation that supports children as they grow, ensuring that technology serves as a tool for enrichment and not alienation. Synergy among educators, parents, and professionals in the field is essential to model a digital environment that promotes safety, intellectual stimulation, and mental and physical well-being.


In a context where technology is increasingly intertwined with everyday aspects of life, childhood is significantly touched by this digital omnipresence. On the one hand, digital technologies and artificial intelligence are opening doors to innovative ways of learning and development, offering tools that can enrich the educational experience from an early age. Interactive learning platforms, tailored educational apps, and digital picture books are just a few examples of how digital can stimulate children’s curiosity and desire to learn, while promoting the development of key skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.

On the other hand, technology itself brings with it not insignificant challenges, including overexposure to screens, the risk of social isolation, and the need to oversee the quality and appropriateness of digital content accessible to young children. The management of time spent in front of the screen, along with the selection of appropriate educational content, thus becomes a crucial aspect in protecting the physical and mental well-being of boys and girls.

In this scenario, the balance between embracing the opportunities offered by technology and protecting children from its potential risks emerges as a key imperative. Educators and parents are called upon to play an active and conscious role in guiding younger children through the digital landscape, ensuring that technology acts as an enriching complement rather than an obstacle to development.


To successfully navigate the digital age, it is critical that parents and teachers take a balanced and informed approach to the use of technology in children’s lives. This includes creating a positive digital environment, where technology is used as a tool to enrich learning and development, rather than as a substitute for human interaction and physical play. Here are some recommendations:

▪ Establish Clear Limits: Define times and spaces dedicated to technology use, making sure it does not come at the expense of physical activities and family time.

▪ Select Appropriate Content: Choose high quality and educational apps, games and digital resources that are appropriate for children’s ages and interests.

▪ Be an Example: Show conscious and moderate use of technology, as children tend to mimic the behaviors of key adults.

▪ Encourage Active Participation: Interact with children while using digital devices, discussing content and stimulating critical thinking.

▪ Promoting Online Safety: Educating boys and girls on the concepts of online privacy and safety, teaching them basic practices for safe surfing from an early age.

By adopting these practices, the benefits of digital education can be balanced with the overall well-being of children, promoting a holistic approach that prepares the youngest children to become responsible and informed digital citizens.


Institutions play a crucial role in promoting and supporting digital education from an early age. In Italy, several government and local initiatives aim to integrate digital literacy into children’s educational programs, emphasizing online safety, critical digital thinking and media awareness. These strategies include training teachers on new technologies, introducing interactive digital tools in classrooms, and programs that encourage parents to actively participate in their children’s digital education. The Italian approach reflects a growing awareness of the importance of preparing children to become responsible digital citizens, equipping them with the skills needed to navigate the digital world with confidence. Educational policies are therefore adapting to include digital education as a key component of early childhood learning, recognizing that a solid foundation of digital citizenship is essential for children’s personal and social development in an increasingly connected world.