CANBERRA, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) — The Australian government has announced funding for research into the effects of excessive screen time on children’s health.
Dan Tehan, the minister for education, announced Sunday that the government will spend 34.9 million Australian dollars (23.6 million U.S. dollars) to establish the Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child at the Queensland University of Technology.
The centre will conduct a world-first longitudinal study of the digital lives of Australian children from birth to eight years of age, according to the media release.
Making the announcement, Tehan said that Australians are growing up with “unprecedented access to technology” and the impacts needed to be understood.
“The results of this research will benefit parents and inform improvements to children’s health and education policy,” he said.
“The centre will also develop open access resources and professional training to help minimize digital risks and encourage positive digital experiences.”
According to a 2015 report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), a majority of Australian children are spending more than the recommended two-hour daily limit for screen time (watching television, on computers and playing electronic games). By 12-13 years old, this increases to more than three hours average per week-day and almost four hours per weekend day.
Susan Danby, who will lead the facility, said there is conflicting information about the effects.
“Through the centre, Australia will be better able to respond to national issues and problems related to young children and digital technology including amount of screen time use, social media and digital gaming, and online safety, and develop a better understanding of how children live in a digital world,” he said.
“This will involve improving curriculum and learning materials for educators so they can better enable students’ digital learning as well as designing innovations to ensure children are learning in safe digital environments.”
LINK ORIGINAL: Xinhuanet