Developing in digital worlds

Healthy Child research program

How do we balance the health risks of digital technologies against access to knowledge and social interactions that provide opportunity for positive physical and emotional wellbeing?

Studying the health and wellbeing effects of digital technology use by young children

Our Healthy Child research program aims to produce high-quality evidence about the positive and negative health and wellbeing effects associated with digital technology use by young children and the ways that these should be navigated.

We focus on the key developmental areas of physical wellbeing, language and cognition, and self-regulation, focussing on screens, communication, and video games. Based on our understandings, we will develop and test processes, products, and services to improve children’s engagement with digital technologies. We will also explore emerging and future technologies for their potential to support and promote children’s development, health, and wellbeing.

Key programs in the Healthy Child

Screens and physical wellbeing

  • focus on the effects of exposure to digital screens on children’s physical development and behaviours
  • examine the relationship between digital technology use and sleep in early education and care settings and in the home
  • address effective strategies to encourage and promote active rather than passive digital use

Language and cognition

  • investigate the potential positive and negative effects of digital technology use on children’s cognitive development, including language and visual processing
  • address concerns about the detrimental effect that digital technology use may have on children’s language development
  • provide guidance to understand how peers, siblings, and adults should interact with each other during digital play

Video games and children’s wellbeing

  • examine the influence of video game play on young children’s wellbeing and development, particularly focusing on social and emotional development, self-regulation and mood

Designing programs for impact

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


  • policy recommendations for sleep and digital activity, and active and passive screen time
  • guidelines for language use and communication with and around digital technology
  • policy relating to game rating systems that provide parents with a greater level of detail about gameplay characteristics


Technology innovation frameworks and products for:

  • movement and activity
  • language and cognitive development
  • game design to support wellbeing outcomes
  • innovative selector systems for choosing appropriate videogames for children


  • active engagement initiatives and resources targeted at families
  • workforce training modules for health professionals (for example, speech pathologists) who work with children
  • good gaming guidelines for children and parents

Find out more about our research projects