Kids, Tech, and the Digital Dilemma

Australian governments continue to debate the potential risks social media poses to children, yet new research from the University of South Australia indicates that an outright ban could have adverse effects, particularly for tweens. This recent study reveals that children aged 10-11 years old depend on digital technology to maintain connections with family and friends and foster a sense of belonging.

Professor Sue Nichols, leading the research at UniSA, points out that the advantages of children’s digital media access are frequently overlooked. Current discussions often focus on the risks, such as mental health issues, exposure to inappropriate content, and cyberbullying. However, Professor Nichols emphasizes the necessity of acknowledging the benefits digital technologies provide before making hasty decisions.

For many young children, digital media is a fundamental part of life. It is crucial to consider their perspective in a world where technology has always been present. Children in the 10-11 age group commonly use social media to connect with family and friends through messages, video calls, and playful apps. These digital interactions offer social connection, a sense of belonging, practical assistance, and daily life organization, demonstrating the multifaceted benefits of digital media.

The study, supported by the Australian Research Council and the British Academy Foundation, involved 62 fifth-grade children in Australia and the UK. It assessed their digital media usage and found that more than 40 different apps were employed for various purposes, such as gaming, creative production, learning, communication, hobbies, and life administration. This variety highlights that children’s digital media use extends far beyond social apps.

Co-researcher Dr. Hannah Soong stresses the importance of incorporating children’s perspectives into any programs or policies concerning their safe use of digital technologies. Contrary to what some might expect, children as young as 10 are quite aware of the risks and have developed strategies to manage their online experiences. As their knowledge of digital technologies deepens, they become more capable of handling potentially risky situations.

Currently, broad decisions are being made about social media use, but it’s imperative to consider the full picture and give children a voice in these discussions. The research advocates for a balanced approach that recognizes both the risks and benefits of digital media in children’s lives. By doing so, it aims to ensure that children’s digital experiences are both safe and enriching.

As policymakers contemplate the future of children’s digital media use, this study serves as a reminder of the complexity and nuance required in these decisions. It underscores the importance of involving young users in the conversation and recognizing the integral role digital media plays in their social and emotional development.


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Maria Irene
Maria Irene
Maria Irene is a multi-faceted journalist with a focus on various domains including Cryptocurrency, NFTs, Real Estate, Energy, and Macroeconomics. With over a year of experience, she has produced an array of video content, news stories, and in-depth analyses. Her journalistic endeavours also involve a detailed exploration of the Australia-India partnership, pinpointing avenues for mutual collaboration. In addition to her work in journalism, Maria crafts easily digestible financial content for a specialised platform, demystifying complex economic theories for the layperson. She holds a strong belief that journalism should go beyond mere reporting; it should instigate meaningful discussions and effect change by spotlighting vital global issues. Committed to enriching public discourse, Maria aims to keep her audience not just well-informed, but also actively engaged across various platforms, encouraging them to partake in crucial global conversations.


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