Digital Child researchers launch Ethics Toolkit

A group of almost 40 researchers have contributed to the latest working paper in the Digital Child series, the ‘Digital Child Ethics Toolkit: Ethical Considerations for Digital Childhoods Research’.

The toolkit outlines ethical considerations for researching how very young children and their families relate to and engage with digital technologies and includes a comprehensive appendix with resources like international and Australian ethics frameworks.

The coordinating lead authors of the toolkit, REDI’s Dr Kate Mannell and Dr Xinyu (Andy) Zhao, worked with a diverse range of scholars to ensure that it covered a wide array of principles and issues relating to ethics.

“When you’re researching very young children and digital technologies, there are a lot of ethical dimensions to consider and it can be challenging to figure out standards of practice,” Dr Mannell said. “This can be difficult for university ethics committees too, especially if they are less familiar with research in this area.”

“Our aim with the toolkit was to highlight current ethical research practices by collating existing publications and frameworks, and by capturing the breadth of experience held by our colleagues across the Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child.”

The toolkit outlines ethical considerations across three main dimensions of research:

  • contexts – such as researching in the home, health settings, or early learning centres
  • methods – such as ethnographic approaches, web-scraping, or using wearable devices
  • cohorts – such as infants and toddlers, children with disabilities, or educators.

“I think the insights and recommendations included in this toolkit will be useful for digital childhood researchers to better understand the ethical considerations associated with their research but also more specifically to evaluate the risks and benefits of doing their research,” Dr Zhao said.

“The collection of a wide range of perspectives on research methods, populations and settings also makes it a handy resource for university and faculty ethics committees to grasp what it looks like when researching digital technology and children.”

Download the full toolkit.

News 6 February 2024