Characterising and capturing interactional quality in children’s digital experiences


Research highlights the benefit of adult-child interactions during digital experiences, whereby adults assist to structure and respond to digitally mediated interactions with children. The characteristics of quality in adult-child interactions is well-established more broadly, with quality rating scales already serving both summative (to index quality of practices and environments) and formative purposes (to direct change in practice toward higher-quality provision). Yet less is known about characteristics of quality in digital interactions that have positive impacts on child development.

Project aims

  • scope, based on existing best evidence, the characteristics of digitally mediated interactions that are associated with positive child development and outcomes
  • design a quality scale that can be used to generate a valid, reliable and educationally useful index of quality in digitally mediated adult-child interactions
  • evaluate the validity, reliability and educational utility of this scale

Project design

The project will be completed in three phases:

The first phase will involve convening the expert project team, armed with recent systematic reviews on this topic, to scope and identify the likely features of digital interactions that will have benefit for children’s development.

The second phase will involve tool construction, leveraging the above discussions and decisions, and applying this lens to observations of current digital practices in ECEC. This will allow us to refine our quality indicators and their descriptions.

The third phase will involve scale creation and validation, to ensure that our quality indicators are related to children’s developmental progress in the expected direction and magnitude.

Activity plan for 2022

  • convene expert project team to agree an initial set of indicators of high-quality digital interactions
  • observe routine digital practices in ECEC, to align and refine quality indicators
  • construct and validate a quality scale, to evaluate the extent to which it relates to children’s developmental progress in the intended manner


March 2022 – December 2022


Associate Professor Steven Howard

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The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child acknowledges the First Australian owners of the lands on where we gather and pay our respects to the Elders, lores, customs and creation spirits of this country.