Risk and Representation

Over the life of the ‘Young People and Sexting’ sub-project, research aims and outcomes have aligned with the CCI’s stated aim of working with industry and community to assist in its application in practical circumstances for industry and community benefit, and CI Albury has been invited to present the research to a range of government and non-government organisations including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Family Planning Queensland, and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s National Centre Against Bullying. The project directly contributes to the stated national benefit claims to demonstrate the social, economic and cultural value of digital literacy and influence and impact on understanding and policy around digital content. Similarly, ‘AU Kids Online’ addresses opportunities provided by creative industries and innovation for our core academic discipline fields and multiple policy domains and helps demonstrate the social, economic and cultural value of digital literacy, digital content innovation, and user-led innovation in diverse settings.

The project’s multi-institutional framework has linked existing Australian research strengths and built critical mass with new capacity for interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to address the significant research problems. Further, it has developed relationships and built new networks with major national and international centres via links with the EU Kids Online project. Associate Researcher Dr Donell Holloway was invited to speak to the Safer Internet Forum in Brussels. She was subsequently awarded Australian Research Council DECRA funding to research internet use in 5-12 year olds: ‘Digital Play: Social network sites and the well-being of young children’ (2014-2016, $383,899). Her achievements demonstrate CCI’s capacity to provide high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral training environments for the next generation of researchers.


This project continued with its three major strands of research: young people and sexting; the risks and opportunities posed to young people via online interactions; and the representations of young people with regards to digital culture.

The ‘Young People and Sexting in Australia’ report (Albury et al, 2013) was launched in 2013, and the study was selected as an exemplary international case study (#31) of innovative research by Barbovschi et al (2013) in ‘Innovative approaches for investigating how children understand risk in new media: dealing with methodological and ethical challenges’. The report was widely cited in media and government reports in Australia, Canada and the UK, and in the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s recommendations regarding sexting law reform. It was added to reading lists and curriculum for Australian secondary students and trainee teachers. In 2013 Albury and Byron completed three additional focus groups with same-sex attracted young people; and eight interviews with adults who work with young people.

The ‘AU Kids Online’ research concluded its fieldwork for the qualitative study, investigating young people’s (9-16) accounts of risks and opportunities from their digital engagement. This work is being written up. Additionally, in collaboration with European researchers, Green and Holloway contributed to a number of reports: Green et al (2013), ‘What bothers Australian kids online? Children comment on bullies, porn and violence’; Holloway et al (2013), ‘Zero to eight: young children and their internet use’ and Barbovschi et al (2013), ‘Innovative approaches for investigating how children understand risk in new media: dealing with methodological and ethical challenges’. A report comparing Australia’s online risk and opportunity profile with that of the EU countries engaged in EU Kids Online is in progress. Additionally, Green and Brady published a refereed paper in international journal, Continuum: ‘Do Australian children trust their parents more than peers when seeking support for online activities?’.

Hartley’s contribution has culminated in a sole-authored book proposal, ‘DIY Girls: Entertainment, Risk, Representation’. This has been well received by international publisher Palgrave and a firm commission is anticipated.

Data analysis is being concluded in early 2014. The Chief Investigators and Associate Researchers are developing a range of peer-reviewed journal articles drawn from their research findings. A capstone Symposium, Cultural Studies and the New Uses of Literacy, financed by the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia but drawing upon many ‘Risk and Representation’ themes, will be hosted at UNSW in April 2014.  Albury will visit the UK and US in the second half of 2014 to develop collaborative scholarly publications with Kate Crawford (Microsoft Social Media Lab), Feona Attwood (Middlesex University) and Clarissa Smith (University of Sunderland).

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