Growing Up Digital – Australia

“The children of today’s world are growing up in a pervasive and powerful digital environment, an environment that affords great potential for educating, empowering, and democratizing their world.

But, used in undirected ways, it also has the power to affect their physical, mental and social health.”

Michael Rich, MD, MPH – Digital Wellness Lab, Boston Children’s Hospital

Philip McRae, PhD – Alberta Teachers’ Association


As parents in today’s digital age, our concerns for our children’s wellbeing in a digital environment are ever increasing and completely valid. Growing Up Digital – Australia, recently released Phase 2 of its report. We recommend parents and guardians take a moment to read the report findings. Below is a brief outline of some of its key findings and survey results.

  • Childhood has changed
  • Parenting is harder than it used to be
  • Parents know they are role models but are distracted
  • COVID changed everything
  • There is a thin line between leisure and learning
  • Connected and Disconnected
  • The Digital Divide
  • Children are facing similar issues globally

This report, Growing Up Digital: Phase 2, shows just how much access children have to digital technologies: with 4 out of 5 children having at least one device for their own personal use, and access to an average of 3 devices.

This research explores the perceptions of parents, carers and grandparents about the effects of digital media and technologies on children and youth over time. The findings mirror some of eSafety’s own research findings 2020 in the report ‘Parenting in the digital age’. It also shows that the positive side of access to digital technologies is tempered by negative aspects, which can have an impact on children’s mental health and wellbeing. This was highlighted in one of the themes of the research, – ‘the dual power of technology’.  eSafety has a range of online safety resources to help empower parents and children to have safer and more positive experiences in navigating the ever-evolving digital world, these are all available at

While parents felt that digital technologies are enhancing their children’s maths, reading abilities and social skills, 83% of parents felt that their child have been negatively distracted by digital technologies. Of note, the research found that 37% of children and young people have become anxious or depressed because of their time online or because they were not allowed to use their device.  And while technology can be a great equaliser, this research shows that inequalities persist – these have become particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, with socio-economic factors coming into play.

Starting the conversation early is paramount to ensuring online safety as our children get older – building good habits early on and continuing throughout their maturation and growth. This research highlights the importance of education about safe and responsible use of digital technologies and that parents and carers play a critical role.


How is Whitefriars responding?

As part of the College Notebook Program, student is explicitly taught about the appropriate use of the technology to improve their learning and ensure the safety and wellbeing of themselves and others. The expectations regarding technology use is outlined in the Student Technology Use Policy. Students use their Notebooks to access the learning resources outlined by teachers in the Whitefriars Learn. They are also actively using their technology to prepare study notes, collaborate with their peers, communicate and research.

Whitefriars continues to emphasise a holistic education that provides opportunities for our young men to learn away from the Notebook and other forms of technology. Health and Physical Education, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Food Technology, and Sport are areas where students develop skills in an environment predominantly free of distractions associated with technology.

The College understands that mobile phones are an integral part of society and perform many important functions. We strongly believe that our mobile phone policy is a positive, pro-active approach to support our students in appropriate mobile phone use, based on the considered views of the school community. The policy also references the positive use of student’s Notebooks for learning and collaboration.

The Digital Technologies curriculum provide students opportunities to continue to grow and develop their knowledge and understanding of the digital world they live in. They use a range of software programs to design, create and evaluate digital solutions to meet a current or future need. Each student is encouraged to become confident, safe and ethical digital users and citizens who can communicate and collaborate efficiently and effectively using digital platforms.


Mark Ashmore

Deputy Principal – Learning and Teaching