ECA Statement on young children and digital technology use

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) is in the process of developing a draft Statement to guide educators, carers and families of young children on digital technology use. To understand what the Statement should cover and the supports that the early childhood sector and families want, ECA is consulting with educators, carers, leaders and others and planning more ways for the sector to engage with the topic. Our recent survey is now closed but you can read on to learn more and register for updates.

Why develop a Statement

Early Childhood Australia is the peak advocacy body representing young children from birth to eight years and their families. Our vision is Every young child is thriving and learning. Through our work on the early childhood Digital Business Kit and Live Wires initiatives, ECA has recognised the growing role of digital and interactive technology in young children’s lives and the need for greater guidance on technology use.

In June 2016 the ECA Board agreed with recommendations from ECA’s Digital Business Kit (DBK) Reference Group that ECA will lead the development of a Statement on young children and digital technology for the Australian context. The DBK project (2013 to 2017) and Live Wires Forums (2015) identified the need for a Statement to guide and inform the early childhood sector, families of young children and decision-makers about using interactive technology with and for young children.

Who is the Statement for?

A Statement on young children and technology would support the early childhood education and care sector, children, families, decision-makers and technology developers to understand technology use with and for young children, and help them decide how to recognise good technology use.

Wherever possible it would articulate to sectors, disciplines, organisations and professionals with related interests in promoting young children’s education, development, health and wellbeing.

Ideally consultations, development work and drafting will lead to a Statement that would:

  • reflect latest thinking and best practice about interactive technology and young children’s education, development, health and wellbeing
  • identify what remains unclear and gaps in knowledge that require further work and research
  • be a ‘living document’ that can be updated as new information, improved practices and deeper understandings emerge.

ECA will consult widely across the early childhood sector and has established a group—the ECA Digital Policy Group—to advise and assist with the development of the Statement.

ECA Digital Policy Group

The role of the Digital Policy Group is to provide independent advice and expert guidance to ECA on developing the Statement on young children and technology. The Group will:

  1. provide advice and feedback on consultations with the early childhood sector
  2. provide advice and feedback on initial concepts and drafts of the Statement, including a literature review and revised draft for Board ratification
  3. identify risks or challenges to ECA’s work in this area and make connections with related groups, initiatives or opportunities that would strengthen development of the Statement
  4. provide advice and feedback on supporting resources and promotional strategies including:
    • Website content
    • ECA Learning Hub and related training materials
    • Key messages and communication strategies
    • Assist with the launch of the Statement
  5. provide advice on future directions for the Statement.

A draft ECA Statement will be developed in consultation with stakeholders over a two year period drawing on expertise in children’s education, development, health and wellbeing.

The first meeting of the Digital Policy Group was held in September 2016 where Dr Chip Donohue was an invited guest and shared his experience developing a similar Statement in the USA. Dr Donohue was also an international keynote at ECA national conference in Darwin, October 2016 and workshop convenor on issues for developing a Statement.

ECA is planning and coordinating opportunities for the sector and key stakeholders to consider and provide feedback including through a survey which closed mid-July (results will be shared in the coming months) and further resources and face to face events. ECA is also coordinating a literature review and will prepare preliminary concepts and drafts of the Statement with input from the Digital Policy Group for consultation with the sector in early 2018.

Members of the Digital Policy Group

A wide range of expertise will inform the Digital Policy Group drawing on individuals and organisations with experience and knowledge in the fields of young children’s education, development, health, wellbeing and safety, parenting, interactive technology, media and online environments, family and child research. Click here to see a list of members.

Register for updates

Contact dbk@earlychildhood.org.au to stay in touch with developments.