Mapping media use by families

The challenge

Digital technologies are an increasingly common part of everyday life for families with young children. Mobile devices, touch screens, and voice interfaces mean that even very young children often have regular engagement with digital platforms and content. As a new phenomena, it’s important to understand how research has begun measuring and conceptualising these experiences and their meanings and impacts.

Project overview

This project maps empirical research on digital media use by young families. Through two scoping reviews (one international and one Australian) it establishes a foundational understanding of the dominant topics, methods, concepts, and findings across this emerging field. The reviews take a multi-disciplinary view, including research from across medical, social sciences, humanities, and engineering disciplines.


By mapping out current approaches to research, we can understand how they are shaping what is and isn’t known about the digitalisation of family life. In particular, the review highlights the need for more rigorous methods, more innovative conceptualisations, and a focus on more diverse family types and experiences. Providing evidence about the need for these changes in research approach will help the field move beyond reductive narratives about ‘screen time’ and a narrow focus on children and parents within traditional families. More concretely, this work will be developed into empirical studies of family life that seek to address the limitations identified by the review.


January 2022 – December 2023


young children, early childhood, digital technologies, digital data, family life