7 November 2023

Left to their own devices: NSW Government earmarks $2.5m for research into youth screen addiction

| Jarryd Rowley
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young girl using tablet while lying in bed

According to the NSW Government, computers and smartphones are damaging students’ ability to hold face-to-face conversations. Photo: PeopleImages.

The NSW Government has committed $2.5 million to investigate the impacts of problematic screen use on children.

The screen-related addiction fund was a major election commitment promised by the Minns Labor Government in the lead-up to its election in March this year.

The government’s Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) will oversee the fund, with the grants awarded through a competitive process.

Up to $500,000 will be available to successful applications for tender grants, and up to $200,000 will be offered for partnership grants.

After applications are competitively assessed, partnership grants will be offered where research into problematic screen use is already underway. Open-tender grants will be offered to projects with novel screen-related research proposals.

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Issues that will be looked at include:

  • What are the key sources of problematic screen time for young people in NSW?
  • What impact is screen use having on the learning, wellbeing and behaviour of children?
  • Strategies to counter the negative impacts of problematic screen use
  • Whether today’s students are impacted by screens in the same ways as other generations
  • The impact on teaching as a result of changing digital technologies.

The NSW Government is hopeful the research findings will deliver a thorough database on how students at schools are affected by constant computer, phone and TV usage, to create informed policies.

Researchers will be able to apply for the funding in December this year and will be asked to present their research by 2026.

Premier Chris Minns said: “We all know young people love their devices – be it mobile phones, gaming devices or their computers.

“Many parents are worried about screen time and how it might be affecting their children and how they learn, but the impacts of devices on children are largely unknown.

“Investing in this research fund will help create a growing body of knowledge on this issue to inform our government policies, but it will also help inform parents in NSW.”

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Minister of Education and Early Learning Prue Car said the research was of utmost importance as the reality of students spending too much time on their devices became more apparent.

“Many parents I speak with are worried about the impact screen time is having on their children, and it is important we help to provide parents with all the facts they need to make informed decisions,” Ms Car said.

“Investing in research is vital so the Government can form evidence-based policies that we know will have a positive impact on our students, teachers and larger school cohort moving into the future.”

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