Hold big tech to account - safer screens for Aussie kids

17 Oct 2023

Hold big tech to account - safer screens for Aussie kids featured image

Barbara Biggins from Adelaide, and latest recipient of the Winston Churchill Trust’s Impact Funding continues her 50-year campaign to keep Aussie screens safe and appropriate for our children.

Barbara says: “My overriding concern at the moment is that big tech is exploiting our children. It’s invading their privacy. It’s making parent’s lives much, much harder, and there are no proper legislative protections currently in place,”

Barbara is an early media trailblazer, who used her Churchill Fellowship in 1989 to investigate the production and regulation of children’s television in North America. At that time, she went to 14 centres in the USA and Canada to study the effectiveness of regulatory measures in the provision of children’s television programs, with particular reference to the effects of television violence on the child audience.

She brought back her global findings to benefit key bodies such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)’s National Advisory Council, the Australian Council for Children’s Films and Television’s national membership, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal Children’s Program Committee, and the Media and Communications Council.

Right now, Barbara can see the big picture in Australia in the of face of big tech, the internet and the rise of AI. She knows more is needed to protect our kids.

“Parents are saying we are supposed to be protecting our children, yet parents up against big tech’s resources and tactics. It’s a hugely uneven battle,”

“Big tech in Australia must be regulated in a way that provides greater safety for our children. The government needs to do this – it cannot be left up to industry to self-regulate,” said Barbara.

Barbara’s research and conclusions were also published in small screen, the monthly journal of Children and media Australia (CMA) of which she is the honorary CEO.

The publication is a national review covering the latest developments in children’s television – research, law and regulation, and opportunities for public participation. Small screen educates policy makers, programmers, educators and parents about the impacts and implications of what children watch.

With the support of the Winston Churchill Trust’s Impact Fund, Barbara has conducted a review and redesign of small screen — Children and Media Australia’s monthly news review.

“The Impact Funding provided a much-needed opportunity to modernise the format and content, and to increase the coverage and impact of small screen. Children and Media Australia runs on a very slim budget and this review could not otherwise been afforded. Many thanks to the Churchill Trust,” said Barbara.

“The Trust is very proud to contribute to Barbara’s project and cause. It is a unique and valuable publication on developments in children’s media as small screen.” said Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Trust.

Barbara continues her advocacy with small screen working to raise awareness of the need for a research-based national classification system; the influence screens have on children’s development; the need to protect children’s privacy as consumers and the need for regulatory measures around the production of quality Australian children’s media.

Read Barbara’s 1989 report here.

Read more about Barbara’s Impact funding here.

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