The 24/7 Child: Understanding the role of digital technology in supporting young children’s health, care and family patterns


Understanding the social and environmental drivers of technology use and the role these technologies play in family’s lives is a critical step in informing acceptable and meaningful guidance and support for children, families, and early childhood professionals. This integrated program of work will examine the interplay between 24-hour, weekly and longitudinal patterns of digital technology use, family functioning and child health across home and early education contexts.

Project aims

  • examine patterns of digital technology use (e.g. timing, purpose) and relationship with key health outcomes, including 24-hour sleep patterns, child/family well-being, development and behaviour
  • provide new knowledge to inform engagement and communication between educators and families regarding and through digital technologies, and to understand the environmental, social, and contextual influences on children digital lives

Project design

Application of objective measurement, longitudinal tracking, and detailed analysis across home and early education settings. The program of work will focus initially on current available pre-existing data sources in the first phase (year 1-2) and will inform measurement and utilise data from the Longitudinal Family Cohort (year 3-7) including embedded/nested studies applying objective measurement of sleep/activity and detailed collections of family daily/weekly patterns.

Activity plan for 2022

  • undertake analyses and delivery of findings from data collected in 2021, examining digital technology use patterns and their correlates in >200 infants aged 12-months of age
  • using diary and survey to examine the daily variation of exposures to digital technology, and patterns of association with family life and child sleep-wake patterns
  • conduct comparison data for the same children at 18-months of age to examine changes in use across time, and to examine associations with child outcomes


September 2021 – September 2027


Dr Sally Staton

View all projects

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.