Living and connecting in digital worlds

Connected Child research program

How do we balance access to social and knowledge connections in the digital world against risks of surveillance, infringements of privacy, and child rights?

Children’s privacy, rights, and citizenship online

Our Connected Child research program investigates important issues associated with children’s use of the Internet and mobile technologies related to data analytics, online engagement and commercial influences.

We will use these understandings to produce technology innovations for young children that shape positive relationships with peers, family, community, government and commercial entities. We aim to deliver outcomes that respect children’s privacy, rights, and citizenship; and advance knowledge about the role of companies and government as big data penetrate everyday family life.

Key programs in the Connected Child

Data analytics and the digital child

  • investigate how data from digitally connected interactions are being captured, analysed and used
  • explore the impact that this widespread analysis may have on children and their families, and the risks and opportunities
  • examine digital profiles and educational analytics, personal technology that tracks and supports behaviour and personalises experiences, the Internet of toys, and online games and apps
  • investigate the influences of data collection and analytics by examining what, how and why of data capture, and considering who ‘owns’ the data

Children online

  • explore what constitutes safe and positive interactions in online environments that create new ways for children to communicate and engage with others
  • focus on the extent to which young children encounter unsettling content through online media and investigate strategies for protecting children from such interactions
  • co-design activity focusing on strategies that allow for the development of new digital technologies for enabling greater child control and agency in online social interactions, and mechanisms to support respectful interactions

Commercialisation and the Digital Child

  • examine how commercial interests affect children’s behaviour, shape family dynamics and influence educational institutions
  • investigations will encompass marketing of food, toys and media; commercialisation in school, leisure and at home; and influences on contemporary digital childhoods

Designing programs for impact

Our research is designed with a focus on impact in the areas of policy, innovation, and practice. For the Connected Child program, these areas of impact include:


  • advance knowledge about digital technology use, patterns of consumption and modes of marketing to inform policy recommendations related to regulatory settings for government, private and public institutional governance, civic responsibilities, and children’s digital rights


  • develop theoretical frameworks that conceptualise children’s digitally mediated interactions from a civic perspective


  • design frameworks to advance the development of digitally connected products, content, services and technology innovations to support children’s connected engagement with technology
  • develop guidelines for activities to help families and schools make informed decisions about data capture and use
  • develop early years initiatives focussed on online privacy and safety.

Find out more about our research projects