The kids are heading back to the classroom and many parents are realising that digital is the new standard.

Being online has become an essential part of school life, which these days means thinking about internet connectivity and digital hardware as well as pens, exercise books and backpacks.

This is because the time Australian students spend collaborating with classmates, accessing global experts and researching projects online at home is expected to reach new highs in 2017.

As shown in the annual nbn™ Digital Parenting Report, 47% of students head online after school to do homework and touch base with their classmates via video chat.

While they’re online, the nbn™ Digital Parenting Report shows that more than half will check out an online tutorial to help them complete educational tasks and assignments.

Digital report findings 

In Australia, primary school children are spending an average of 1.8 hours online each weekday in order to complete their homework after school. The amount jumps to three hours when students reach high school.

A growing number of parents (81% compared to 76% in 2016) agree that using the internet for homework, research or educational games does help to prepare children for the future.

The majority (77%) of parents think that high-speed internet is important at home to meet demands of school work.

Over half (57%) believe that having quality internet access could impact their child’s educational outcomes.

While most parents agree that digital skills and access to fast broadband are key in helping prepare their children for the workplace, there is still a concern from more than 50% that their kids are spending too much time online.

Easing tech-guilt while keeping the balance 

Productive internet time shouldn’t be something to feel guilty about.

According to Children’s Technology and Learning Expert, Dr Kristy Goodwin, “with growing access to technology and fast broadband via the nbn™ network in our homes and schools, students have access to a world of resources and opportunities to help set them up for success.*

“It’s these resources alongside important STEM skills that are essential to help equip, motivate and educate this generation of tech-savvy kids.”

STEM refers to the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are in the spotlight due to the potential for future job opportunities.

Dr Goodwin adds, “The reality is children will continue to spend more and more time online, so rather than burying their heads in the sand and trying to limit use of technology, I’d recommend parents try and prevent the ‘digital zombie’ effect by finding active ways for kids to engage with technology.”

“For example, when students are coding, designing webpages, participating in educational chat forums, or producing a movie, their minds are actively involved, which uses higher order thinking skills instead of just passively consuming content,” says Dr Goodwin.

Parents who want to encourage their children to use their time on the internet productively can find dozens of online resources suitable for all ages that encourage them to learn the basics of coding and more. 

Future work opportunities lie in technology 

Tech subjects will be front and centre in the coming years, with increasingly practical tech-curriculum being introduced into schools across the country.

Industry educators are embracing this evolution.

Honorary Fellow of the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation and STEM educator, Stephen Read, says “It’s fantastic to see teachers and parents understanding the importance of embracing tech to help prepare them for a competitive digital future.”

“With one in two Australians predicted to need skills in programming and software development to remain competitive in the 2030 job market, increasing access to fast broadband will help to upskill and get students learning online more efficiently,” says Mr Read.

Being able to use fast broadband gives Australian children the opportunity to put what they are learning at school into practice and provides access to the resources they need to do well in their academic endeavours.

This can build the foundation for future career success across growing science and tech based industries.

Increased connectivity isn't just helping with regular school work; in rural Australia, it's changing the way distance education operates.

* Your experience including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network.

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