Mapping the Australian children’s internet


The internet is often imagined as a space for adults and teenagers (13+); but we know young children are connected to the internet in many and varied ways. This project investigates the networked technology and digital media available to Australian children aged 0-8. The ‘children’s internet’ may be thought of from multiple perspectives including media production and consumption practices, content, policy, regulation and commercialisation. It includes organisations, technologies, digital platforms, social media and gaming companies, content and services. Identifying and describing these elements enables in depth analysis of the opportunities and challenges for ensuring children can experience a positive and rewarding digital environment.

Project aims

  • use the concept of the ‘children’s internet’ to generate research questions to explore how young children are connected to the internet in obvious, less obvious, or even hidden ways
  • use a political economy analysis to identify how young children are positioned by the economic, institutional, and policy dynamics of networked technologies and media
  • describe the institutional and policy conditions required for the development of a more positive and productive children’s internet to be developed over the next decade

Project design

The project uses desk research, policy analysis and industry interviews to follow six lines of inquiry:

  • the technological layer of physical internet access and devices (e.g., touch screens, voice assisted devices, the Internet of Things, and AR and VR)
  • how the ‘Children’s Internet’ is imagined in popular, policy, and commercial discourses by adults with vested interests and by children themselves
  • the production and circulation of commercial entertainment content and, separately, ‘edutainment’ content
  • how transnational production, marketplaces, policy, regulation and legislation shape the contours of the ‘Children’s Internet’
  • how children’s participation, play, and ‘digital labour’ constitutes the ‘Children’s Internet’


SBS, Google

Activity plan for 2022

  • undertake data collection and analysis related to our six lines of inquiry
  • sevelop a ‘white paper’ to launch at an academic/industry symposium in early 2023
  • aubmit a journal article about the ‘Instagram Kids’ controversy to a international journal


September 2021 – August 2023


Professor Michael Dezuanni

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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.