Age-appropriate media education

Digital media in education?
Yes, just age-appropriate!

age-appropriate media education
age-appropriate media education
age-appropriate media education
ECSWE supports schools’ freedom to develop their own age-appropriate and development-oriented media curricula.

Our work

Fol­low­ing our rec­om­men­da­tions, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment includ­ed amend­ments in favour of age- and devel­op­ment- appro­pri­ate media edu­ca­tion in its 2018 report on the “Edu­ca­tion in the dig­i­tal era”and in its 2021 report on “Shap­ing dig­i­tal edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy”.

Fol­low­ing our advo­ca­cy, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion includ­ed our inputs in favour of healthy and well-being ori­ent­ed dig­i­tal media edu­ca­tion into its Dig­i­tal Com­pe­tence Frame­work for Cit­i­zens 2.2.

Based on our con­tri­bu­tion, the Unit­ed Nations’ Spe­cial Rap­por­teur includ­ed impor­tance of build­ing media matu­ri­ty in its 2022 report on the Impact of the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of edu­ca­tion on the right to edu­ca­tion.

age-appropriate media education
age-appropriate media education


We want media edu­ca­tion to be age-appro­pri­ate and tai­lored to children’s devel­op­men­tal needs.

Stein­er Wal­dorf edu­ca­tion has a very spe­cif­ic approach to reach­ing this goal. Dur­ing ear­ly years, empha­sis is placed on first-hand expe­ri­ence, phys­i­cal move­ment, artis­tic work, and sto­ry telling. The next stage is to devel­op a sol­id foun­da­tion in basic lit­er­a­cy, numer­a­cy, and social skills in a screen-free learn­ing envi­ron­ment, before dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy is final­ly intro­duced in classrooms.

At pol­i­cy lev­el, this approach is best sup­port­ed by invest­ment in unbi­ased and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research into the effects of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy on teach­ing and learn­ing. Fur­ther­more, we call for schools to have the auton­o­my to define their own media curricula.

1. Allow schools to freely choose age-appropriate media curricula for their pupils

To pro­vide an age- and devel­op­ment-ori­ent­ed media edu­ca­tion, Stein­er Wal­dorf schools need the right to define their own media cur­ric­u­la. Most of our schools con­scious­ly delay the intro­duc­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy in class­rooms until the age of 12, when young peo­ple are devel­op­men­tal­ly ready and have acquired a sol­id foun­da­tion in basic skills. This is impos­si­ble if schools are required to fol­low detailed reg­u­la­tions enforc­ing the use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy in class­rooms from an ear­ly age. Nation­al and region­al author­i­ties should set only the gen­er­al frame­work and learn­ing objec­tives of edu­ca­tion, and give auton­o­my to schools to flex­i­bly imple­ment them at school level.

2. Allow teachers to freely choose teaching methods

Empow­er­ing teach­ers to decide on their teach­ing meth­ods is a core ele­ment of Stein­er Wal­dorf edu­ca­tion. Teach­ers decide for them­selves what kind of teach­ing meth­ods and media best sup­port the learn­ing process and devel­op­men­tal needs of their pupils at a giv­en moment.

To fos­ter media lit­er­a­cy, many Wal­dorf teach­ers first intro­duce dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy as a cre­ative tool. For exam­ple, this can involve edit­ing a news­pa­per, pro­duc­ing a radio fea­ture, or mak­ing a movie. This helps pupils to work with and crit­i­cal­ly reflect on the use of dig­i­tal con­tent from oth­er sources lat­er on. To enable this approach, it is essen­tial that gov­ern­ments allow flex­i­bil­i­ty regard­ing how dig­i­tal media is used in schools.

3. Allow parents to freely choose age-appropriate media education for their children

It should be pos­si­ble for par­ents to make mean­ing­ful edu­ca­tion­al choic­es for their chil­dren. With regards to media edu­ca­tion, this is only pos­si­ble if dif­fer­ent ped­a­gog­i­cal approach­es coex­ist, and are both acces­si­ble and affordable.

Screen-free options should be avail­able to fam­i­lies who wish to delay the use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy. For this rea­son, ECSWE sup­port­ed the ELIANT peti­tion call­ing on EU insti­tu­tions, and nation­al and region­al gov­ern­ments, to respect the right to screen-free day care insti­tu­tions, kinder­gartens and pri­ma­ry schools.

Interested? Get involved!