Centre studies “the digital child”

The Minister for Education, Hon Dan Tehan, announced that the government is providing $34.9 million to establish a research centre that will conduct a world-first longitudinal study of the digital lives of Australian children from birth to eight years of age.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child would be led by Professor Susan Danby and based at the Queensland University of Technology. According to the Minister the new centre 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.

The centre will also develop open access resources and professional training to help “minimise digital risks and encourage positive digital experiences.”

The head of the Centre, Professor Danby, said there was currently a lot of conflicting information about the role of digital technology in young children’s lives and through evidence-based research the centre would deliver clear messages for all concerned.

She said transdisciplinary research would involve experts from education, health and digital and social connectedness and result in policy recommendations and guidelines and drive public debate around the realities of a child’s life in a digital world, including practical guidance for families in navigating the digital environment, and informing technology innovation for young children.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology will collaborate with national and international experts at five Australian universities and thirty-three academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America. Together they will provide an additional $32.2 million in cash and in-kind support to the centre.