Mapping media use by families

About the project

For the past two years (2021-3), the ‘Mapping media use by families’ project has centred around a large-scale scoping review of research on digital media use by young families.

The review aimed to map the dominant topics, methods, and concepts across this research and to consider how these approaches are shaping what is and isn’t known about the digitalisation of family life. To do so, the project has developed two scoping reviews, an international review of 297 publications and an Australian review of 68 publications. This mapping is multi-disciplinary, covering a range of medical, social sciences, humanities, and engineering disciplines. The initial mapping phase of work will complete end of 2023, with final outputs being written up and submitted for publication. Broadly, the review findings have highlighted the need for more rigorous methods, more innovative conceptualisations, and greater attention to diverse family types and experiences.

As planned, the project will now move into a second, more empirical phase that takes up issues highlighted in the review. While progressive academic and policy discussions have moved beyond the ‘screen time’ paradigm, a key finding of the review is that it remains overwhelmingly the dominant conceptual and methodological approach within research on very young children and their domestic digital media use. To this end, the second phase of the project will investigate how ‘screen time’ functions as a discursive construct. Activities will examine a range of contexts –– including news media reporting, TikTok parenting cultures, parental control technologies, and families’ everyday experiences –– to trace how screen time discourses circulate and are understood, taken up, and/or resisted.

Project aims:

  • review how academic research has described, measured and conceptualised media and digital technology use in families
  • design empirical studies that build on existing research in meaningful and impactful ways
Contact person