Children, media and pandemic parenting

The challenge

The pandemic has changed childhood to digital by default. Given changes in domestic media practices, where everything happens through digital platforms, it is important to understand how parents and caregivers regulate media, understand advice about media, and articulate what it means to create the conditions for a good childhood in relation to media practices in the home.

Project overview

This international comparative research project aimed to examine changes in children’s media practices in response to the pandemic as described by parents/caregivers. It also looked at what parents/caregivers imagined for future media practices in the home and the changes in their ideas around digital media in relation to the regulation of media practices in the home.

This qualitative inquiry was conducted in seven countries: Australia, China, UK, US, South Korea, Canada and Colombia. Data were collected through an online survey, interviews, and visual images.

Outcomes

This project generated new knowledge about how the pandemic disrupted family media life in different countries.

The findings of the project are outlined in a forthcoming edited book (Routledge) that is made up of contributions from researchers based in different countries. In this book the research team members write about the various aspects of family media practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • the families’ experiences of time and space in relation to screen media
  • children’s remote learning during lockdowns
  • parents’ perceptions and practices of using parental controls.

The book offers a view of everyday family life in the digital age through an interdisciplinary lens. The comparison between countries suggests how socioeconomic, cultural and political settings influence media cultures and practices in the family home. The project questions the usefulness of the notion of screen time and invites a more nuanced approach that takes into consideration the complexity of the context and content in relation to children’s media practices.

Project team

Professor Julian Sefton-Green, Deakin University
Professor Rebekah Willett, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr Xinyu (Andy) Zhao, Deakin University
Dr Sarah Healy, University of Melbourne
Dr Becky Coles, Deakin University
Associate Professor Natalie Coulter, York University
Dr Diana García Gómez, George Mason University
Dr Amie Kim, Gyeongin National University of Education
Ju Lim, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Maureen Mauk, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lindsay Sheppard, York University
Jessica Laraine Williams, Deakin University

Funding

ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child

Timeline

June 2021 – December 2022

More information

Digital Child website

Keywords

digital child, pandemic parenting, family media practices