CQU awarded funds for research to help guardians guide children's online decision-making safely

07 November 2022

A CQUniversity tech expert will aim to understand how young people are staying safe online in a post-COVID-19 world' after being awarded funding from the Australian Government's $9 million Online Safety Grants Program.

The research – Reconceptualising Digital Safety in Family Homes post COVID-19 – will examine the difficulties parents and grandparents face with parenting technology following the surge in children's internet post-pandemic from a 'family digital safety' perspective.

The project received a $127 000 grant that will allow researchers' including CQU Chief Investigator Associate Professor Michael Cowling' and collaborators Dr Joanne Orlando from Western Sydney University' and Dr Kwong Nui Sim from Auckland University of Technology to conduct interviews with key stakeholders such as parents' grandparents and guardians to understand how to reconceptualise safety in family homes.

The output will be a set of workshops' as well as guidelines and assistance published online.

"This funding is a great opportunity for us to understand how young people can be digitally empowered'" Assoc Prof Cowling said.

"Given the intensity and range of children's technology use' parents and grandparents cannot realistically be aware of' or understand the myriad of decisions children make every time they go online. This is particularly pertinent for children aged 10 -13 years' who are often beginning to use the internet more independent of adult guidance.

"COVID-19 and the increase in online learning and lifestyle dramatically amplified this. The question hence becomes: How do parents and grandparents meaningfully guide children's decision making in these transition years when we are not fully aware of children's online practices and thinking and how it relates to safety needs?

"It builds on our previous work and helps us unpack how kids can be digitally safe both at school and at home. We will be producing a set of guidelines and workshops from this work to support parents and carers."

The project is now underway and is expected to be completed by November 2023.

This is one of nine initiatives to share in $2.25 million in funding in the third and final round of the grants program' which is led by the eSafety Commissioner and complements its existing education programs.

Minister for Communications' the Hon. Michelle Rowland MP' said the not-for-profit sector plays an important role in supporting the government to address complex social issues.

"These grants will help unlock each recipient's unique expertise to create new channels and content addressing specific issues and age groups' helping us to reach more Australians with vital online safety education."

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said she is excited to welcome nine new partners in online safety that share her passion for helping Australians to have positive and safe experiences online.

"We need to keep developing fresh ways to reach and educate Australians if we're to keep pace with technology.

"Working with partners means more voices' more insights and more ways to inspire a generation of young people to scroll with safety online'" Ms Inman Grant said.

To find out more about the Online Safety Grants Program' visit: Online Safety Grants Program

For online safety advice for all Australians' visit www.esafety.gov.au