Thinking the Digital

Children, Young People and Digital Practice 

Friday 8 September

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is proud to present, in partnership with the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University and the Department of Media and Communications at Sydney University, a unique opportunity for researchers in Australia to engage in conversation with Professor Sonia Livingstone and each other about children, young people and digital practice.

Event Details

Venue: Level 5, The Bay Centre, 65 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Time: 9am - 3pm
Cost: Waged: $30, Unwaged: $15

Hosted by The Office of the eSafety Commissioner; Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University; Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney

Organisers: Associate Professor Amanda Third, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University and Professor Gerard Goggin, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney


Please register on Eventbrite (opens in a new window). Please note that there are limited places.


8.30am – 9.00am Registration and coffee
9.00am – 9.10am Welcome: Ms Julie Inman-Grant, Australian eSafety Commissioner
9.10am – 9.15am Overview of the day: Amanda Third and Gerard Goggin
9.15am – 10.15am Keynote: Professor Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics, 'Digital Dynamics in the Classroom and at Home'
10.15am – 10.30am Morning Tea
10.30am – 11.40am Session 1: Vulnerability, Marginalisation and the Digital
11.40am – 12.40pm Session 2: Rights-based Approaches to Digital Research, Policy and Practice
12.40pm – 1.30pm Lunch
1.30pm – 2.30pm Session 3: Fostering opportunities in the digital age
2.30pm – 3.00pm Reflections and closing

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Keynote Speaker

Photo of Sonia LivingstoneSonia Livingstone (opens in a new window)OBE is a full professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Author of 20 books and many articles, Sonia researches the opportunities and risks for children and young people afforded by digital and online technologies, focusing on media literacy, social mediations, and children's rights in the digital age. Her new book is The class: living and learning in the digital age (2016, with Julian Sefton-Green). A fellow of the British Psychological Society, Royal Society for the Arts, and fellow and past President of the International Communication Association, she currently leads the projects Global Kids Online and Preparing for a Digital Future and previously directed EU Kids Online.

Digital Dynamics in the Classroom and at Home

To understand how, in a heavily mediated society, a "digital thread" is now woven through the fabric of young people's personal, social and learning lives, I undertook a year-long ethnography with one class of 13-14 year olds (with Julian Sefton-Green). This revealed the intersecting ways in which young people appropriate digital media to find spaces of personal autonomy and agency while their parents and teachers try to deploy digital media normatively to shape young people's present achievements and future prospects – as played out through the subtle enactment of variously motivated or problematic connections and disconnections sustained within and between home and school. The result is that digital media – although not necessarily determining young people's lives – have become a key site of anxiety and struggle between the generations. My current work, focusing on parenting, argues that these digital dynamics must be analysed through a temporal lens as, for parents, present practices are shaped both by often-nostalgic recollections of their past childhood and, even more important, their anxieties about and desire to control an imagined digital future.

Session 1: Vulnerability, Marginalisation and the Digital

10.30am – 11.40am

What are the particular challenges that vulnerable and marginalised young people encounter in the digital world? How can they be supported to minimise the harms and maximise the opportunities of digital media? How might we conceptualise and work with ideas about and experiences of vulnerability and difference in the digital age? What tools and methods do we need to research these issues?

Session 1 Speakers

Amelia Johns

Amelia JohnsAmelia Johns is a Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation and is currently teaching in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University. Her work spans the fields of digital media studies, cultural studies and youth studies and examines issues of: whiteness and youth identity; and migrant and diaspora negotiations of racism and citizenship in digitally networked publics. Her current research project examines Malaysian-Chinese youth digital practices, and the role 'digital citizenship' plays in negotiations of identity, political participation and belonging. She is the author of Battle for the flag (2015), an empirical investigation of local youth expressions of nationalism and white identity in the Cronulla riots of 2005. She is also a co-editor of recently published book Negotiating digital citizenship: control, contest, culture (with Anthony McCosker and Son Vivienne, 2016).

Michael Hartup

Photo of Michael HartupMichael Hartup is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. His dissertation addresses the ways in which technology aided music-making practices facilitate processes of self-disclosure for young musicians with experiences of vulnerability. Since completing his Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) (Hons) at Swinburne University in 2010, Michael has spent time conducting research within the youth mental sector (Inspire Foundation, Young and Well CRC, BeyondBlue) and has tutored 1st and 2nd year subjects at Swinburne University (Sociological Foundations and Sociology of Young People). In addition, Michael has also spent some time both playing music (having completed an Advanced Diploma of Music Performance) and writing about Australian music for various online publications. His research interests include youth studies, youth mental health, young people's technology use, and popular music studies.

Jean Burgess

Photo of Jean BurgessJean Burgess is a Professor of Digital Media and Director of the QUT Digital Media Research Centre (opens in a new window)(DMRC). Her research focuses on the uses, cultures and politics of social and mobile media platforms, as well as the challenges of developing methods to study them. Her co-authored and edited books include YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (Polity Press, 2009), Studying Mobile Media: Cultural Technologies, Mobile Communication, and the iPhone (Routledge, 2012), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), Twitter and Society (Peter Lang, 2014), and The SAGE Handbook of Social Media (SAGE, 2017). She has worked successfully with a range of government, industry and not-for-profit organisations to address the practical challenges and opportunities posed by digital and social media; as well as to deploy advanced social media analytics to understand and engage with the concerns of their communities. She collaborates widely with colleagues across QUT and around Australia, as well as with leading researchers in Germany, Brazil, Sweden, the UK, Canada, the USA, and Taiwan.

Teresa Swist

Photo of Teresa SwistDr Teresa Swist is Engaged Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. Her research interests explore the complexity and power relations of knowledge practices in the digital age, with a particular focus on co-design, youth participation, creativity and wellbeing. Teresa was Postdoctoral Fellow on the Safe and Well Online project – exploring the role of social communications in fostering young people's wellbeing – and has facilitated multiple workshops with stakeholders from across education, government, industry, and the non-profit sector. Recent projects include: exploring young people's moral and ethical decision-making, co-designing a peer-mentoring program with refugee young people, as well as developing a platform with informal settlement community members in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her work has been published in Journal of Youth Studies, New Media and Society, Communication and the Public, and Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. Teresa also led a report – Social media and the wellbeing of children and young people: a literature review – commissioned by the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Western Australia.

Justine Humphry

Photo of Justine HumphryJustine Humphry is a Lecturer in Digital Cultures in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. Her previous appointments include Lecturer in Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University and Research Fellow in Digital Media at the University of Sydney. Justine researches digital and mobile cultures with a focus on networked publics, inequalities, digital infrastructures, and transformations in work and everyday life. Justine was the chief investigator of research on homelessness and mobile connectivity for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (from 2013-14) and for the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (from 2015-16). She carries out research that involves participants, builds capacity and makes a social impact. Her publications appear in Routledge Companion to Mobile Media, Sociologic: Analysing Everyday Life and Culture (Oxford University Press), Journal of Media, Culture and Society, Journal of Information, Communication & Society, M/C Journal, Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture and the Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy.

Cherry Baylosis

Photo of Cherry BaylosisCherry Baylosis is a PhD candidate in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. Her research explores how, and if, everyday digital practices can give voice to people living with labels of mental illness. Cherry has over a decade of working in community services, including areas of youth welfare, drugs and alcohol, and mental illness.

Her work within community services has had a particular focus on how digital technologies can be used to support and empower people. Recently, she worked at SANE Australia, a national mental health charity, in building the SANE Forums, an online community for people affected by mental illness. She has also been responsible for building Gambling Help Online, a national initiative to provide support and information to people who have an issue with problem gambling.

She holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology, as well as a Masters in Media and Communication. This combined with her work experiences has inspired an interest in the sociocultural effects that digital media technologies have in maintaining, resisting and reproducing relations of power.

Session 2: Rights-based Approaches to Digital Research, Policy and Practice

11.40am – 12.40pm

What are the issues researchers, policy makers and practitioners need to think about in relation to children's and young people's rights in the digital age? What does it mean to claim children's and young people's rights in the digital age? What can rights-based approaches offer digital research, policy and practice? What might be the limitations of such approaches?

Session 2 Speakers

Kath Albury

Photo of Kath AlburyKath Albury is Professor of Media and Communication at Swinburne University of Technology. Her current research focuses on young people's practices of digital self-representation, and the role of user-generated media (including social networking platforms) in formal and informal sexual learning. She is especially interested in exploring new approaches to workforce training and professional development for health promotion and sexuality education professionals who wish to develop a deeper engagement with digital media practices (including sexting, selfies and hook-up app cultures).

Since 2001, Kath has been a Chief Investigator on four Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grants. She was a Lead Investigator on an ARC Centre of Excellence grant, and two ARC Linkage collaborations. She has also successfully coordinated a commissioned research collaboration with the NSW Health Department's STI Programs Unit, and undertaken a Researcher in Business placement funded by the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. In 2004, Kath was a research leader on the Playing By the Rules Project, developing and delivering the first sexual ethics workshops for professional athletes in the Australian National Rugby League.

Her current Linkage collaboration with ACON (formerly the AIDS Council of NSW) and Family Planning NSW investigates young people's perceptions of safety, risk and wellbeing on digital dating and hook-up apps.

Gerard Goggin

Photo of Gerard GogginGerard Goggin is the inaugural Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, a position he has held since 2011. Previous appointments include Professor of Digital Communications at University of New South Wales (2007-2010), the University of Queensland, Southern Cross University, and, as visiting professor, the University of Barcelona.

Gerard's research focuses on social, cultural, and political aspects of digital technologies, especially the Internet and mobile phones and media. He has published 13 books and over 140 journal articles and book chapters.

As well as his academic roles, Goggin has had a twenty-year involvement in communications and telecommunications policy, including appointments as a board member of the Disability Studies and Research Institute (DsaRI), foundation board member of the peak organization Australian Consumer Communication Action Network (ACCAN), deputy chair of the self-regulatory body Telephone Information Services Standards Council (TISSC), and member of the Australian e-Research Infrastructure Council (AeRIC).

Heather Horst

Photo of Heather HorstHeather Horst is Professor in the Department of Media in Communications at the University of Sydney and an Adjunct Professor at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University. A sociocultural anthropologist by training, her research explores transformations in the telecommunications industry, emergent mobile media practices and the use of digital media for learning across the Pacific, Caribbean and Australia. Her recent publications examining these themes include Digital anthropology (2012), Digital ethnography: principles and practices (2016), Routledge companion to digital ethnography (2017), Locating the mobile (Forthcoming, 2018) and The moral economy of mobile phones in the pacific (forthcoming, 2018).

Lelia Green

Photo of Lelia GreenLelia Green has a particular interest in the risks and opportunities encountered by young people online, and their passionate engagement with aspects of digital communication. She has served on the International Advisory Panel of EU Kids Online, or as an Associate Researcher with the project, since 2006. She is also actively involved in recent COST Action research around The Digital Literacy and Multimodal Practice of Young Children (2015-19). In parallel with this international work, the Australian Research Council (ARC) has funded Lelia as a co-Chief Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and for an extended ARC Discovery-driven study of the internet in Australian family life. This work includes, 2002-4: family internet – families with school aged children (DP); 2008-13: risk and representation of young people online 9 to 16 years old (CoE); 2011-13: parents or peers 11 to 17 years old (DP); and, 2015-17: toddlers and tablets 0-5 years old (DP). She is the author of The internet (2010, Berg), and Communication, technology and society (2002, Sage); also published as Technoculture (2002, Allen & Unwin), and has written or co-written over 150 book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles or fully-published refereed conference papers.

Tama Leaver

Photo of Tama LeaverTama Leaver is an Associate Professor in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. His research interests include online identity, infancy online, digital death, social media, mobile gaming and the changing landscape of media distribution. He has published in a number of journals including Information, Communication and Society, Popular Communication, Media International Australia, First Monday, Comparative Literature Studies, Social Media and Society, Communication Research and Practice and the Fibreculture journal, and is the author of Artificial culture: identity, technology and bodies (Routledge, 2012); co-editor of An education in Facebook? Higher education and the world's largest social network (Routledge, 2014) with Mike Kent; and Social, casual and mobile games: the changing gaming landscape (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) with Michele Willson. He has also co-edited special journal issues of M/C Media and Communication and Social Media + Society on infancy online. Tama has won teaching awards from the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and in 2012 received a national Australian Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities and the Arts. He is @tamaleaver on Twitter, and his web presence is (opens in a new window).

Session 3: Fostering Opportunities for Children and Young People in the Digital Age

1.30pm – 2.30pm

What opportunities for children and young people do digital media open up? What do children and young people need from adult institutions and agents in order to get the most out of their digital practices? To what extent might adult institutions need to transform in order to facilitate opportunities for children and young people in the digital age? And what kinds of concepts, methods and processes do we need in order to reorient the risk and safety conversation towards one that can also foreground the opportunities?

Session 3 Speakers

Amanda Third

Photo of Amanda ThirdAssociate Professor Amanda Third is Principal Research Fellow in Digital Social and Cultural Research in the Institute for Culture and Society at the Western Sydney University, Australia. Amanda's research focuses on the socio-cultural dimensions of young people's technology use, with particular emphases on children's rights in the digital age, the intergenerational dynamics shaping technology practice, and vulnerable young people's technological engagements. From 2011-2016, Amanda was Research Program Director in the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (opens in a new window), which united young people with 75+ organisations across sectors to explore how to harness young people's technology practices to support their wellbeing. She currently co-directs the Young and Resilient Living Lab in Western Sydney, and is lead author of Young people in digital society: control shift (with Philippa Collin, Lucas Walsh and Ros Black, forthcoming 2018). Amanda is a member of the Australian-based Technology and Wellbeing Cross-Sector Roundtable; a member of the international Digitally Connected Network; Expert Advisor to Global Kids Online; and Expert Advisor to the UNESCO/Google Asia Pacific Regional Digital Citizenship Framework. In 2015 she was awarded the Western Sydney University Vice Chancellor's Medal for Engagement and Sustainability.

Philippa Collin

Photo of Philippa CollinPhilippa Collin is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. She researches the role of the digital in the social, cultural and political lives of young people, and the implications for the promotion of mental health, wellbeing and citizenship. Her work is also concerned with new forms of political participation, identity and governance and the role of diversity and intergenerational collaboration for social change.

Prior to her appointment at Western, Pip was Managing Director of Research and Policy at (opens in a new window). From 2011 – 2016 she led a research program for the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre examining how new technologies can promote safe and supportive environments for young people. She is currently co-founding a Living Lab in Greater Western Sydney. The Lab will harness intergenerational and cross-sector partnerships for the research and design of technology-based interventions to foster the resilience (or 'transformative capacities') of young people and their communities in Australia's most diverse and rapidly growing region.

Pip is the author of Young Citizens and Political Participation in a Digital Society: Addressing the Democratic Disconnect, (2015, Palgrave Macmillan) and co-author of Young People in Digital Society: Control Shift (Third et al, forthcoming Palgrave Macmillan).

Cecilia Hilder

Photo of Cecilia HilderCecilia Hilder is completing her PhD with the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Her research examines young people's digital practices in the context of two Australian youth-led activist groups – the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and Oaktree. Cecilia's work engages with social media and digital networks and contrasts practices of activism and civic participation. Cecilia has a particular interest in less obvious forms of political participation that extend understandings and broaden debates about citizenship and civic practice. Digital media has changed the way the public and private spheres interact, and the way citizenship practices are enacted; her research aims to better explain those changes and their consequences for democracy.

Cecilia is also an experienced sessional academic with the WSU School of Business, teaching in the areas of business ethics, leadership and innovation. Cecilia is Deputy Chair of the Board of Rosebank College, Five Dock and chairs the College's People, Culture and Risk Committee. Prior to her PhD she worked in government relations and investor relations dealing with complex public policy issues in dynamic media environments.

Milovan Savic

Photo of Milovan SavicMilovan Savic is a PhD candidate at Swinburne University in the Department of Media and Communication. He holds a joint Masters Degree in Youth Work with a major in Didactics from Jönköping University (Sweden) and University of Novi Sad (Serbia). Milovan's doctoral research looks at how parents and their preteen children negotiate use of digital and social media in family settings. This includes parenting approaches to governing and monitoring child's digital media use as well as the domestication of digital technology in the household. More broadly, his research interests include digital citizenship, digital and social media, social network sites, youth's online practice and self-presentations, adoption of apps, platforms etc. His work has been published in the Media & Culture Journal.

Anita Harris

Photo of Anita HarrisAnita Harris is a Research Professor in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. She is a youth sociologist undertaking a series of projects on youth and citizenship, including the completion of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. Prior to joining the Institute, she was a Future Fellow in the Sociology program at Monash University (2011-2015), and a Mid-Career Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland (2007-2011).

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