03:24am Monday 24 February 2020

Children's influence growing in digital age

Distinguished Professor John Hartley, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at QUT, said the prevalence of ‘new media’ had given children’s actions and choices more significance.

In his book Digital Futures for Cultural and Media Studies, Professor Hartley said that as children engaged with one another and wider society online, they exerted a largely unseen, but growing influence.

“For example, children’s online actions are already being closely tracked by business to determine their preferences in order to satisfy their demands for various products – and thus influence the course of industry,” Professor Hartley said.

“But these preferences extend more widely than commerce, to the kind of society and associations children prefer, which governments and others are starting to pick up on.”

Professor Hartley said he was concerned that some people were trying to restrict and exclude children’s access to and participation in the online world.

“The future is the invention of those who are going to live in it,” he said.

“There’s nothing new about this. For instance, the Australian accent – and with it Australian identity – must have been invented by children playing and talking together, while their parents retained their English, Irish and Cockney accents and habits.

“What’s new is that so much of this informal social learning from peers is now conducted online, and is therefore open to investigation.”

Other issues explored in the Digital Futures for Cultural and Media Studies included:

• How online journalism had reverted to an older model of multiple voices in dialogue, after a century or more of one-way, ‘mass’ communication, controlled by media corporations with monopolistic tendencies.
• How the public sphere had evolved in the global digital era, and where we could now look for the most competitive contributions to ‘public thought’.
• How digital media, specifically YouTube, were changing the nature of archiving.

Digital Futures for Cultural and Media Studies was published in January by Wiley-Blackwell (USA and UK), and is available from Wiley Australia.

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Media contacts:
Julian Cribb, CCI media, 0418 639 245
Stephanie Harington, QUT media, 3138 1150, stephanie.harrington@qut.edu.au

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