Her visits to research centres and conferences enabled the establishment of an enduring useful network of research contacts.
‘TV researchers’ most commonly recommended regulatory solution to the problem of children’s exposure to TV violence was to reduce children’s access to violent heroes,’ Barbara found, recommending that, ‘In Australian terms, this would mean not giving a G classification to programs with violent heroes. This should include cartoon programs, as well as ‘real life’ programs.’
She suggested Australia set up an institution similar to the University of Montreal’s Centre for Youth and Media Studies whose brief is to conduct fundamental and formative research, to intervene in the public arena, and to support the development of funded programs in script development, or pilot production.
Two years ago, CMA supported the establishment of Digital Child, an ARC Centre of Excellence whose program of research brings together national and international experts and partners to investigate children’s digital experiences. Barbara has an appointment as an Associate Researcher at the Centre.
Barbara’s Impact support has enabled the review and redesign of small screen. and the publishing of nine issues to mid-2023. Reader support has been strong, and the journal has been a strong advocacy tool for bringing critical matters to the attention of key policy and decision makers.
Recent content includes how scary trailers in family-type programs really affect children, Census data on children’s usage of screen-based activities, movie reviews and stories on the online promotion of gambling and of harmful foods. small screen also now includes links to useful resources and campaigns developed by other collaborators in the field, such as the Words Grow Minds campaign developed by the SA Government’s Early Years Taskforce.
New readers have been added continually and a plan for covering the production costs of small screen has been developed. By end-June 2023 nine issues had been published, with CMA supporting the costs of the July and August issues.
‘The Impact Funding grant provided a much-needed opportunity to modernise the format and content, and to increase the coverage and impact of small screen,’ said Barbara.
‘Children and Media Australia runs on a very slim budget and this review could not otherwise been afforded. Many thanks to the Churchill Trust.
‘My ongoing project has been to promote the healthy use of screens for children,’ Barbara explains, ‘to advocate for quality media content for children and for the prevention of exploitative commercial practices.
‘Priority activities at present include raising community awareness of the influence of screens on children’s development; the protection of children’s privacy as screen users; the need for a research-based national classification system; and the loss of regulatory measures that promoted the production of quality Australian media for children.’
Australia’s future rests heavily on the wellbeing of its children. In a world viewed disproportionately through screens big and small, nothing could be more important than providing quality content that enhances children’s lives, as well as properly understanding, and where necessary regulating, the content young people are exposed to and the intentions of those who create and deliver that content.