Digital Impact on Children to be put under the Microscope

A world-first ongoing study into the effect of digital technology on children will be undertaken at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology (QUT), with the federal government contributing 34.9 million Australian dollars (23.6 U.S. dollars) for the purpose of building research center.

Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan said on Sunday that the new Australian Research Council (ARC) Center of Excellence for the digital child will be a hub of international collaboration to inform agendas on children’s use of digital technologies worldwide.

“Our children are growing up with unprecedented access to technology and we need to better understand the effect it is having on them,” Tehan said.

“This new center will undertake a family cohort study, run children’s technology laboratories and lead research programs to improve our knowledge of the effects of digital technology on children,” Tehan said.

The project’s lead scientist, Professor Susan Danby said that currently there is an abundance of conflicting information regarding children’s use of technology and that through evidence-based research the center will be able to provide clear recommendations for educators and parents.

“Through the center, Australia will be better able to respond to national issues and problems related to young children and digital technology including the amount of screen time use, social media and digital gaming, and online safety, and develop a better understanding of how children live in a digital world,” Danby said.

By tracking the digital lives of young children from birth up until eight years of age, the researchers hope to balance the benefits of digital technologies with minimizing harm.

“Australia will inform international agendas in minimizing children’s digital risks and maximizing positive digital engagement,” Danby said.

“This will involve improving curriculum and learning materials for educators so they can better enable students’ digital learning as well as designing innovations to ensure children are learning in safe digital environments,” Danby added.