18 November 2021: Families in Canberra will be learning more about online issues thanks to the Safe Online Together project, created by researchers from the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra.
The UC research team, made up of Dr Catherine Page Jeffery, Professor Kerry McCallum, and Sue Atkinson will run a series of family workshops throughout November and December that are intended to bridge the intergenerational divide between parents and their children, and reduce digital conflict within families.
“The workshops – aimed at parents of children aged 10 to 15 – will start the conversation about developing and negotiating a family technology agreement,” Dr Page Jeffery said.
“The workshops are interactive, accessible, and we really hope to promote a mutual understanding and knowledge about digital media use between children and their parents.”
The project is being run in conjunction with Capital Region Community Services and Community Services #1, to allow community services staff and young facilitators to interact with the families involved.
Dr Page Jeffery said it is important for parents, alongside their children, to be educated in online safety.
“Parents are tasked with protecting their children from online risks, while simultaneously maximising the various opportunities that digital media offer young people,” she said.
“My research indicates that parents find this difficult, or find that attempts to manage their children’s devise usage can result in family conflict.”
Anonymous data generated from the workshops will be collected to evaluate the project and inform ongoing research and future initiatives.
Eventually, the researchers hope to scale up the research nationally.
“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,” Dr Page Jeffery said.
“At the same time, young people need to acknowledge their parents’ concerns about online risks and the desire for a balanced use of digital media.”
The project also aims to change the perception of young people as vulnerable risk takers in the online environment, and instead support them to share their knowledge about managing their online presence with younger peers and families.
The project was made possible as the result of a $110,000 grant from the eSafety Commissioner in 2020.