Using digital technologies to support family practices encouraging physical activity by young children


  • Juliana Zabatiero Curtin University
  • Sarah Mullin Curtin University
  • Susan Edwards Australian Catholic University
  • Laura Stone ABC Kids Early Education
  • Derek McCormack Raising Children Network
  • David Zarb Playgroup WA
  • Leon Straker Curtin University


Background: Adults caring for young children receive mixed messages about young children’s use of digital technology and how it may impact children’s health and wellbeing, which can impair decision-making about how to use technology in the best interests of young children. 

Aims:To support families with young children to use technology to help children be more active.

Methods: This in-home, 12-week field trial was part of a larger study using a participatory design approach involving researchers, trusted industry partners (Playgroup WA, ABC Kids, the Raising Children Network), and families with young children. Participant families, with children aged 18-36 months, were recruited from playgroups in Perth. Parents were invited to an online workshop that included brainstorming on how to use digital resources to inform practices to help children be more active. Families trialled practices based on a curated list of digital resources, provided via weekly emails, and were asked to provide weekly feedback during the trial and in a post-trial semi-structured qualitative interview. 

Results:  Fourteen families from eight playgroups participated in the trial from May-August 2021. Parents indicated that the digital resources informed useful family activities to help their children be more active in varied ways, including a source of inspiration for different ways to engage in physical activity, promoting family engagement, encouraging the development of children’s physical skills, and enhancing children’s participation in physical activity. 

Conclusions: This study found that a participatory design approach between families, research and industry partners resulted in family practices promoting physical activity with technologies. 





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