The impact of digital technology on children will be investigated in a world-first longitudinal study of the digital lives of Australian children from birth to eight years of age.
The Australian Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced the initiative. “Our children are growing up with unprecedented access to technology and we need to better understand the effect it is having on them.”
The Government is providing AU$34.9 million to set-up a research centre that will conduct a family cohort study, run children’s technology laboratories and lead research programmes to improve knowledge of the effects of digital technology on children.
The results of the research will benefit parents and inform improvements to children’s health and education policy, said Tehan. The centre will also develop open access resources and professional training to help minimise digital risks and encourage positive digital experiences.
Centre lead Professor Susan Danby said information currently available about the role of digital technology in young children’s lives is often conflicting. “Through the centre, Australia will be better able to respond to national issues and problems related to young children and digital technology. This includes screen time use, social media, digital gaming, and online safety, to help develop a better understanding of how children live in a digital world,” she said.
The centre will be based at Queensland University of Technology and will collaborate with national and international experts at five Australian universities and 33 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America. Together, they will provide an additional AU$32.2 million in funding and in-kind support to the centre.