Children Participation in Digital Age
The world has advanced into a digital age that requires complexity and versatility in every activity. Creativity nowadays is the recipe for success. In this modern world, children are being raised in a more different way as compared to the recent past. Parents are not as strict as it was traditionally in the past whereby obedience and adherence to the rules was a primary requirement for kids to follow. When one looks back in the past societies and how they perceived the position of the children in social and family ranks, one thing we notice is that the child potential was largely underutilized. In the developmental stages of a child, its artistry and creativity are always at its best. Many people believe that every child is an artist, but the problem is how to maintain the artistry into adulthood.
In that regard, mentoring and encouraging children in their talents is fundamental to their development and growth. It also ensures their freedom of choice is guaranteed and their choice of passion is upheld. But how do we enable all these? In what ways can the children be involved in their upbringing? These are two fundamental questions that can guide the parents in arriving at the appropriate decisions suitable for the swift advancement of their children. And for that case, the primary solution for straight child upbringing could as well lie in their involvement in the design and the delivery of the services they use.
Involving the children in this process presents more benefits than limitations. Some would beg to differ from this suggestion. It may still be valid anyway; however, the validity of opposing the idea does not render it less important. Children participation in the design and services they use is a brilliant idea. Nonetheless, we can only utilize this through effective planning and the implementation of the participation process. Therefore, this discussion intends to outline appropriate ways we can use different children effectively to achieve participation.
Reasons for Child Participation
There have been several opinions from different people including children welfare stakeholders as to why children need to get involved in the decision-making process especially in relation to the factors that directly impact them. According to Participation Works Partnerships (n.d.), the young children have also the rights to express their views, in association with the parents and the relevant stakeholders in making the decisions on planning and the delivery of services. Children need to have a right of participation in the contemporary world. It has emerged as a sensitive requirement in society, such that, in countries like the UK, it has now become a legal prerequisite to paying attention to children’s views which are stipulated in the Childcare Act of 2006 (Participation Works Partnerships n.d.). This underlines the role the children can play the design of services that they consume in the current world.
While some countries like the UK have discovered the legal parameters that enhances child participation; the concept itself should not be a matter of laws alone. Laws are prone to violations; hence, the reasons for enabling child participation should be rooted in the daily practice as a routine culture among the parents and the stakeholders. There have been recent reports of children not getting involved in making decisions over various aspects of their lives (Participation Works Partnership 2014). When respecting the children’s view in decision-making process becomes a natural practice among the stakeholders, then swift implementation of this process can be an easy task.
Most adult persons exhibited their best active moments at their tender ages. With the advance of age, the active nature of a human diminishes. Nevertheless, the individuals can maintain their best traits of creativity and genius characteristics into the adulthood stage, if only they are managed appropriately during their tender ages.
Allowing children to participate in the design and the delivery of the services they use can grant a lot of benefits to them as they grow (Lansdown n.d.). Participation establishes and improves creativity in children. Some children were born creative geniuses in different fields. For instance, a child born as a sports lover, in essence, football or basketball can develop into a household name sports personality, if only their development and desires are respected by the parents or those who take care of them. Some children exhibit creativity in different ways including drawing, art and craft, some develop singing at a tender age, while others have the extraordinary ability in machinery repair at a very tender age.
In addition to creativity, child participation develops their cognitive ability. A child involved in every stage of mentorship and given freedom to make some certain decision on their own tend to have well-developed thinking ability. The involvement makes the child start conceptualizing, at an early age, different environmental factors. They develop the ability to make sound decisions on what suits them most. The cognitive development of a child is related to the treatment he/she is given while growing up. Even in adulthood, people’s cognitive abilities differ. Some people have lower comprehension ability, while others are quick learners. Some are intelligent while others are timid and gullible. The effective participation of the children at a tender age can effectively address all the mentioned issues and develop the child into a sharp and intelligent adult in decision making.
Having a child participate in the decision-making process can also ensure their systematic progress in terms of their professional career aspirations, following of their hearty passions (only the good ones) and it also helps the child develop an ability to interact and form meaningful relationships with other society members. In general, it is not all about just participation; it is about how the children participation develops them into better adults.
How to Enable Child Participation
The basic factor a guardian or children welfare stakeholders should first understand is that children differ. From this, the person involved can systematically integrate the child into the participation process based on what they love or prefer. All children were born differently, but a significant number of them may have similar traits and abilities. Others are quick learners other are slow learners. Some may be extroverts, noisy and outgoing while some are quiet, reserved and relaxed. From these points of view, it is important to understand your child’s characters as it helps in establishing what is best for them.
A child can take part in the design and the delivery of what they use through their choices. Parents should enable children to have the freedom to choose what they fancy. For instance, some children are smart enough to understand the prevailing trends in the toy industry. The child may have a specific toy he/she would like to own but he/she may not have the money to purchase the toy. When it comes to what a child wants in terms of entertainment, a parent should pay for what the child loves passionately. Some parents suppress the plights of their children by limiting them even on the design of toys, clothes or bikes they like. When the parent constantly shuts down the opinions of the child, it gradually makes them develop the feeling of inferiority and adaptation to what they dislike.
The parents and stakeholders should also allow the children’s input in the design of what they love. Creativity can be enhanced through this process. For instance, in the toy industry of China, children with technical cognitive abilities usually take part in the designing and making of the toys. Some kids are natural singers, and they could have a specific flavor of singing toy equipment. It is important to give them their taste. It will be even more relevant when, for instance, toy industries start involving children in their boardroom decisions.
Participation can also be enabled through training programmes. According to (Lancashire Children and Young People’s Trust n.d.), training can educate children about the participation process and that the process should be meaningful and add value to their lives. The stakeholders involved in the participation process should understand that the training of children is important in making them realize their role in decision-making over the services they receive. Training of the children could be a crucial step in enabling them to understand their right to decision making as promoted in the law.
Another important way through which a child can participate in the decision-making process is by expressing their creativity without restriction. Parents should give the children the ability to express themselves without necessarily having to get concerned about what the children love. Some parents and guardians, for example, may prefer their children to become specific professionals in the coveted medical or the engineering field. However, the children could on the contrary express passion in other fields away from the parents’ preferences. This conflict of interests often never favors the children because parents have the last say over their kids, however, with the effective consideration of the children’s talents; there can be a strong participation process which could aid them in taking part in every activity that favours them.
Parents should understand their children’s diversity. One parent can give birth to different kids with different passions and aspirations. Some parents would prefer their child to exactly copy their genes even in behavioral expression; not considering that they are two different persons. Therefore, it is fundamental for the parents to understand the diversity of the different children desires. Parents with several kids should learn how to engage each child based on their hobbies and understanding the importance of the kids’ involvement and participation in decisions that favours them.
The topic of children participation in making decisions that affect them has become an important debate across the world. But most countries do not have mechanisms of rolling out participation process for the children in matters that affect them. According to Participation Works Partnerships (2013), Euro child carried out a survey in 56 countries across Europe with different organizations taking place. The aim of the survey was to establish how organizations enhance their participatory links with the children and the challenges they encounter. The survey established that inadequate money and time resources have been the stumbling blocks for the effective participation process.
To enable the involvement of children in this process, organizations must dedicate a considerable amount of time and money, with efficient planning and execution of the stated actions. It is now important to have children participate at all levels of the society in matters that affect them. The world has reached a digital stage whereby opinions of each and everyone should be respected. The world has also entered a phase of solutions, regardless of who offers them; the children or the adults. It should, therefore, be understood that participation of children in the design and the delivery of what they use is now a fundamental requirement in society.
Lancashire Children and Young People’s Trust n.d., ‘How to engage children and young people in developing and delivering training ‘, Children and Young People.
Lansdown, G n.d., ‘Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making’, UNICEF Innocenti Insight.
Participation Works Partnership 2014, ‘Children continue to be failed as the system ignores their rights, says report’, Participation Works Partnership, viewed 5 December 2017, <http://www.participationworks.org.uk/news/children-continue-to-be-failed-the-system-ignores-their-rights-says-report/>.
Participation Works Partnerships 2013, ‘How are organisations across Europe involving children?’, Participation Works Partnerships, viewed 5 December 2017, <http://www.participationworks.org.uk/news/how-are-organisations-across-europe-involving-children/>.
Participation Works Partnerships n.d., ‘Early Years’, Participation Works Partnerships, viewed 5 December 2017, <http://www.participationworks.org.uk/topics/early-years/>.