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International conference explores risks and benefits of young children's internet use

Wednesday, 06 September 2017


Is ‘sharenting’ on social media harming children? What happens after the funny YouTube video of your child goes viral? Are babies being turned into big data? These are just some of the questions that will be explored at an upcoming conference bringing top researchers from around the world to Perth.

The Digitising Early Childhood International Conference 2017, hosted by Edith Cowan University (ECU), runs from 11 to 15 September at Novotel Perth Langley Hotel.

Conference highlights include:

Tuesday, 12 September

9.30am – 10.15am

Turning Babies Into Big Data – And How to Stop It

Associate Professor Tama Leaver, Curtin University

New parents source as much information as they can about parenting including accessing a range of apps, from pregnancy advice through to monitoring devices used during pregnancy and infancy. Many apps encourage parents to undertake monitoring and surveillance to capture a large amount of data about their child and parents could be unwittingly turning their babies into big data.

Techno-toddlers: The digital practices of 0-3 year olds

Professor Jackie Marsh, University of Sheffield

1.15pm – 2.00pm

This UK survey of 2000 parents of 0-5 year olds’ use of tablets and apps looked at how young children are first influenced by the digital practices of their family, before later developing their own ways of using technology.

Is sharenting the new normal? How influencer’ mum bloggers and ‘ordinary’ mums frame presenting their children online

Dr Catherine Archer, Murdoch University

2.00pm – 3.00pm

The rise of mum bloggers has been a worldwide trend that has influenced ‘ordinary’ non-blogging mums to embrace technology and become avid users of social media, ‘sharenting’ images and information related to their offspring. This research looks at why they share their children’s stories and the ethical concerns relating to this.

Wednesday, 13 September

The Internet of toys and Things (IoTTs) for children. Surveillance capitalism and children’s data

Dr Donell Holloway, School of Arts and Humanities, ECU

9.30am – 10.15am

Internet-connected toys are increasing the value of children’s data captured by business. The array of sensors now means children’s voices, movement, locations and even heartbeats are being recorded, raising concerns about privacy and data security.

From YouTube to TV and back again: Viral video child stars and media flows in the era of social media

Dr Crystal Abidin, National University of Singapore, Jönköping University and Associate Professor Tama Leaver, Curtin University

1.30pm – 2.30pm

TV talk shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen DeGeneres Show regularly use viral videos of children for content, raising important questions about exploitation of young children.

Virtual worlds and children’s friendships

Ashley Donkin & Dr Donell Holloway, School of Arts and Humanities, ECU

1.30pm – 2.30pm

Much research on children’s internet use is focused on online risks or educational benefits but there are also social benefits children gain when playing in online virtual worlds, particularly friendship.

Thursday, 14 September

Digital dialogue – does it make a difference in early childhood?

Professor Caroline Barratt-Pugh, ECU

1.15pm - 2.00pm

Family involvement is an important part of a high-quality early education, however parents have limited opportunities to connect with teachers. Results from this WA study will reveal whether digital technologies, such as Seesaw, can make a difference to family-school connections.

Visiting Professors Sonia Livingstone (London School of Economics) and Brian O’Neill (Dublin Institute of Technology) are Co-Chief Investigators with Professor Lelia Green and Dr Donell Holloway (ECU) on a $714,280 Australian Research Council research study looking at toddlers and tablets, exploring the risks and benefits 0-5 face online.

To view the program and see the full list of speakers, visit the conference website.


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