Parenting in digital age: Lessons from Australian families

Young people and technology
Friday 27 July, 1030 – 1050


Dr Bjorn Nansen
Swinburne University of Technology

The prominence of digital media in the lives of children and young people has grown dramatically over recent years, introducing new opportunities and challenges for families negotiating the impact of digital media for their children’s education, inclusion, and wellbeing. In Australia, guidelines on children’s media use have, historically, been informed by the “screen time” discourse focusing on the quantity of media time.
However, for the first time, a recent update to policy statement on children’s digital media use from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) differentiates between various kinds of media devices and applications rather than treating them as equivalent under the rubric of “screen time”. This presents a fundamental shift in policy, away from the quantity to the quality of media engagement. Furthermore, the guidelines emphasise the importance of parental influence in shaping children’s media habits, with recommendations placed on active involvement in children’s media use. Still, there remain many gaps in understanding contextual factors shaping or constraining certain family practices regarding technology use.

In this paper, we report on the findings from the latest release of Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (Wave 7 data), gathered and provided by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, regarding household and family digital media use. The paper provides an overview of how families are currently negotiating and managing digital media use in the lives of children.

Findings presented in this paper will assist in building a robust evidence base that can be used as an impetus to inform Australian media use guidelines.