Best footprint forward
University of Newcastle (UON) researcher awarded grant to enhance the safe and effective use of the internet for the next generation.
Australian children are among the youngest and most prolific users of the internet in the world; they are, on average, under eight years old when they begin using the internet and most children and teenagers go online daily.
As internet and social media usage generates a digital footprint that can have serious future social and professional consequences for children, it is essential to know how to best manage this digital footprint.
UON School of Education Lecturer, Dr Rachel Buchanan, has been awarded a $25,000 grant by .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) for her project: Best Footprint Forward, which will undertake ground-breaking systemic research into children's digital footprints.
Along with fellow UON researchers Dr Erica Southgate and Dr Shamus Smith, Buchanan will investigate child, parent/carer and teacher awareness and attitudes towards digital footprints and strategies used to manage these.
"Some parents/carers educate their children on safe Internet participation. But many other children face potential disadvantage as digital footprints are increasingly used to vet applicants for jobs and other life opportunities," said Buchanan.
"The concept of digital footprints is understood negatively and children are encouraged to minimise theirs. Yet, the lack of a digital footprint can be as disadvantageous as a badly managed one."
The project is the first step in curriculum development in this area and will generate a robust evidence base for the creation of positive digital footprint resources to empower children and their parent/carers.
"Our Best Footprint Forward project will contribute to the use of the internet in ways that will enhance children's future life chances and opportunities," said Buchanan.
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