This project aims to identify the practices enacted and shared amongst young children, their families and educators in digital society. The project is significant because, in digital society, families and educators face new demands to ensure technologies are used in the best interests of young children. Knowledge about practices in digital society informs adult decision-making using technologies with, by and for young children in the early years. The outcome is a new online tool for sharing exemplar practices benefiting Australian children, their families and educators with new resources, materials and programs in areas including digital media production, cyber-safety education, digital play and digital parenting.


  • Australian Research Council (ARC- Linkage Scheme) funding $556,000
  • Partner organisations in-kind and cash combined total $808,976


2020 – 2023

Research investigators

Partner investigator

Project aim

This project aims to identify the practices enacted and shared amongst children, families and educators in digital society to create an online tool for empirically informed service provision about digital technology use ‘with, by and for’ young children.

Project objectives

  • To generate new knowledge about practices in digital society that enable inter-institutional collaboration among partner organisations and produces empirically informed service provision in areas including quality digital media production; early childhood cyber-safety education; digital play; and digital parenting in the early years.
  • To build on the completed work of the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies by providing practice-advice for educators and families about digital technology use 'with, by and for' young children, in four areas of importance for participation in digital society: 1) relationships; 2) health and wellbeing; 3) citizenship; 4) play and pedagogy.
  • To bring together partner organisations and children, families and educators from diverse social settings including: family day care, playgroup, kindergarten and long day care for collaborative research using participatory design.
  • To innovate in methodology using participatory design to integrate four investigations - one per area of the ECA Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies, using methods including ethnography, longitudinal, quasi-experimental and intrinsic case study.
  • To foster internationalisation of Australian research by reporting annually on project progress to an advisory board.
  • Host a project advisory board with the confirmed membership of leading scholars from Scotland (Professor Lydia Plowman), Canada (Professor Andrew Feenberg), and the United States of America (Dr Michael Robb).
  • To conduct a two-tier dissemination plan reaching: 1) Community audiences which encompass social, cultural, economic and geographic diversity among Australian children, families and educators; 2) Industry and academic audiences which involve the engagement of the Chief Investigators and Partner Investigator; partner organisations; and members of the advisory board in seminars, national and international conferences and targeted journal publications.

Research partners

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Australian Federal Police

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation

Deeper Richer

Early Childhood Australia Inc

Esafety Commissioner

Raising Children Network (Australia) Limited

Advisory Board Members

Professor Lydia Plowman (University of Edinburgh)

Professor Andrew Feenberg (Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology, Simon Fraser University)

Professor Susan Danby (QUT; ARC College of Experts, 2015-2018)

Associate Professor Amanda Third (UWS; Expert Advisor Global Kids Online)

Dr Anthea Rhodes (Director Australian Child Health Poll, Royal Children’s Hospital)

Dr Michael Robb (Research Director, Common Sense Media USA)

Selected bibliography

Edwards, S., Nuttall., J., Grieshaber, S., & Wood, E. (2019). New Play: a pedagogical movement for early childhood education. Chapter in D. Whitebread and D. Pino-Pasternak (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education. London: SAGE.

Edwards, S., Straker, L., Oakey, H (2019). Early Childhood Australia. Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies. ECA: Canberra, Australia.

Edwards, S., Nolan, A., Henderson, M., Mantilla, A., Plowman, L., & Skouteris, H. (2018a). Young children’s everyday concepts about the internet: implications for cyber-safety education in the early years. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(1), 45-55

Edwards, S., Mantilla, A., Henderson, M., Nolan, A., Skouteris, H., & Plowman, L. (2018b). Teacher practices for building young children’s concepts of the internet through play-based learning. Educational Practice and Theory,40(1), 29-50.

Edwards, S., Henderson, M., Gronn, D., Scott, A. (2017). Digital disconnect or digital difference? A socio-ecological perspective on young children’s technology use in the home and the early childhood centre. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 26(1), 1-17.

Edwards, S., Nolan, A., Henderson, M., Skouteris, H., Mantilla, A., Lambert, P., & Bird, J. (2016). Developing a measure to understand young children’s internet cognition and cyber-safety awareness: A pilot test. Early Years: International Journal of Research and Development 36(3), 322-335.

Edwards, S., Skouteris, H., et al. (2016). Young children learning about well-being and environmental education in the early years: a funds of knowledge approach. Early Years, 36(1), 33-50.

Mantilla, A., & Edwards, S. (2019). Young children and digital technology: a systematic review of the literature. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood.Online First: https://doi.org/10.1177/1836939119832744

Straker, L., Zabatiero, J., Danby, S., Thorpe, K., & Edwards, S. (2018). Conflicting guidelines on young children's screen time and use of digital technology create policy and practice dilemmas. The Journal of pediatrics, 202, 300-303.

Straker, L., Mantilla, A., Edwards, S., and Danby, S. (2018). Young children and digital technology: Australian early childhood education and care sector adults' perspectives. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 43(2), 14-22.

Barron, B., Cayton-Hodges, G., Bofferding, L., Copple, C., Darling-Hammond, L., & Levine, M. (2011). Take a giant step: A blueprint for teaching children in a digital age. The Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop and Stanford University.

Edwards, S. (2015). New concepts of play and the problem of technology, digital media and popular-culture integration with play-based learning in early childhood education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2015.1108929

Gutnick, A. L., Robb, M., Takeuchi, L., & Kotler, J. (2011). Always connected: The new digital media habits of young children. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Nuttall, J., Edwards, S., Mantill, A., Grieshaber, S. and Wood, L. (2015). The role of motive objects in early childhood teacher development concerning children’s digital play and play-based learning in early childhood curricula. Professional Development in Education, 41(2), 222-235.

Plowman, L., McPake, J., & Stephen, C. (2010). The technologisation of childhood? Young children and technology in the home. Children and Society, 24(1), 63–74.

Vandewater, E., Rideout, V., Wartella, E., Huang, X., Lee, J., & Shim, M. (2007). Digital childhood: electronic media and technology use amongst infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Paediatrics, 119 (5), 1006-1015.

Edwards S. Digital Play. In: Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Peters RDeV, eds. Pyle A, topic ed. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/play-based-learning/according-experts/digital-play. Published February 2018. Accessed February 6, 2018.

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Chief investigators

Professor Susan Edwards
Professor Leon Straker (Curtin)
Professor Andrea Nolan (Deakin)
Professor Michael Henderson (Monash)
Professor Sue Grieshaber (Monash)
Dr Andi Salamon (Charles Sturt University)
Professor Helen Skouteris (Monash)

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