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UC researchers helping Canberra families reduce conflict around technology use

2 October 2020: Researchers from the School of Arts and Communication at the University of Canberra have received more than $100,000 in funding as part of the Australian Government’s Online Safety Grants Program.  The grant will help to develop a project that empowers children and their families to navigate both the risks and opportunities of online spaces together as a cooperative unit, while reducing family conflict around technology use.

UC is partnering with two community services organisations in the Canberra region, Community Services #1, and Capital Region Community Services to deliver the Safe Online Together program, which aims to deliver a series of evidence-based, innovative workshops and online resources to parents and children as a family unit. The project will promote intergenerational knowledge and understanding of digital technologies, facilitate discussion about managing online risks, and develop a set of tailored family protocols for digital technology use amongst families.

“Parents are tasked with protecting their children from online risks, while simultaneously maximising the various opportunities that digital media offer young people,” said lead researcher Dr Catherine Page Jeffery. “This is no easy task and my research indicates that many parents find this difficult.

“Through the workshops, we hope that both parents and their children can come to appreciate each other’s concerns and perspectives. We want parents to appreciate the important role that digital media plays in the lives of young people. At the same time, we want young people to acknowledge their parents’ concerns about online risks, as well as their parents’ desire for balanced use of digital media.”

The News and Media Research Centre (N&MRC) at the University conducts research that interrogates the complex relationships between media and communication practices in our daily lives.

“This research will provide practical skills and knowledge for young people to recognise and combat online safety risks, and it is designed to be scaled up nationally,” said Director of the N&MRC, Professor Kerry McCallum. “Its innovative approach breaks down the intergenerational barriers between school aged children, young adults and parents and fosters a healthier conversation about cyber safety.”

The Online Safety Grants Program is an initiative led by the eSafety Commissioner – providing funding to non-government organisations to develop innovative services, resources and products that improve the online safety of Australian children, young people and their communities, especially those at-risk of online harm.

“This project will make a valuable contribution to the Australian Government’s commitment to keeping children, young people and their families safe online by helping to bridge generational gaps in digital literacy and promoting online safety conversations in the household,” said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.