Children's Engagement with Digital Technologies: Implications for Health and Wellbeing

Edgbaston Room Lucas House
Tuesday 20 November 2018 (10:00-15:00)

If you are interested in a place at this workshop please email


WORKSHOP LEADERS – Prof Peter Kraftl, Prof Julie Taylor and Dr Victoria Goodyear

There is an increasing number of global debates about the role and influence of a range of digital technologies upon children’s health and wellbeing. In particular, there are many contemporary fears about the impacts of social media, gaming and apps upon in terms of bullying, mental health issues, sexual exploitation, body satisfaction and obsessive/addictive monitoring behaviours. There are also growing concerns about the ways children consume, produce and share data, with issued of screen time, ethics, algorithms, privacy, online gaming, mobile phone apps, surveillance, and cognitive, sexual, emotional and behavioural manipulation and exploitation. At the same time, digital health technologies are being designed for children to elicit positive health and wellbeing impacts, including apps, wearable devices and virtual environments for physical activity, diet/nutrition, menstruation, sleep or mental health. Furthermore, there is evidence of the positive educative role of digital technologies in young people’s health and wellbeing, with global agendas focused on children’s digital rights, building digital literacy and developing digital resilience. There are also clear conceptual, methodological and ethical challenges for generating, interpreting, and reporting on children and their uses and/or engagement with digital/online environments, with the need to identify (or even create) frameworks that are robust and practical to use for exploring the relationship between children, digital technologies and health and wellbeing.

As a result of the above issues, we need rich, robust and multi-disciplinary evidence on how children engage with digital technologies, what they learn and how that may influence their health and wellbeing behaviours. This workshop would be structured around several concrete themes which link to the above debates:

  • How do or don’t digital technologies meet children’s physical, social and emotional needs? And how do these capacities vary with social and geographical context (e.g. age, gender, class)?
  • How do or don’t children themselves drive innovative or progressive uses of digital technologies for health and wellbeing? And what are the associated challenges with children’s agency in these regards?
  • What support do or don’t children require to navigate risk and be empowered to maximise the opportunities of digital health and wellbeing contexts?
  • What are the conceptual, methodological and ethical requirements for undertaking research focused on children, digital technologies and health and wellbeing?
  • What types of public engagement and impact activities are required to tackle children, digital technologies and health and wellbeing?