Australian Council on Children and the Media

Latest News on Children and the Media

IARC classification tool approved for use in Australia January 16, 2017

The Minister for Communications has approved the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) tool for ongoing use in Australia following the successful completion of a 12 month pilot.

The pilot was conducted by the Department of Communications and the Arts in partnership with the Classification Board, games industry, community groups and State and Territory Governments. During the 12 month trial, the tool was used to classify over 500,000 online, mobile and downloadable games that would otherwise not have been classified.

The Department and Classification Board will continue to monitor the performance and accuracy of the tool.

For more information about how the IARC tool works, see the Classification Board fact sheet

New Australian study - TV, video games and the mental health of young boys January 9, 2017

A new study of 8 to 9 year olds by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute shows a link between television watching and playing video games and the mental health and behaviour of boys. The study, published in the Academic Paediatrics journal, found boys playing video games for two hours a day were at 2.6 times greater risk of conduct and emotional problems, such as being nervous and unhappy.

The researchers found that girls were not affected in the same way

Read the research article

Read a news article in the Courier Mail

Pilot of tool for classifying Netflix content December 8, 2016

The Australian Government has announced the trial of a new classification tool that it claims will streamline the process of classifying Netflix content and make it easier for programmes to become available to Australian audiences.

The Government has been working with Netflix over the past year to create the tool, which combines Netflix’s technology with Australia’s classification ratings and consumer advisories. They claim that this is the first time in the world that a self-regulatory tool will be used to classify films and television series.The pilot will be undertaken over the next 12 months and will see Netflix applying the classification tool to classify their content for Australian audiences.

Read the full media release

ACCM President co-authors WHO report November 28, 2016

ACCM President Professor Elizabeth Handsley was one of the co-authors of the recently released World Health Organisation report, Tackling food marketing to children in a digital world: trans-disciplinary perspectives. Children’s rights, evidence of impact, methodological challenges, regulatory options and policy implications for the WHO European Region.

This publication provides up-to-date information on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children and the changes that have occurred in recent years, focusing in particular on the major shift to digital marketing. It examines trends in media use among children, marketing methods in the new digital media landscape and children’s engagement with such marketing. It also considers the impact on children and their ability to counter marketing as well as the implications for children’s digital privacy.

Read the report

New Children's eSafety Commissioner announced November 24, 2016

The Australian Government today announced the appointment of Julie Inman Grant as the new Children's eSafety Commissioner. In a joint press release, Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister For Communications and Senator The Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister For Women said that the new Commissioner would have expanded responsibilities to take a lead role in combatting  the non-consensual sharing of intimate images (commonly referred to as ‘revenge  porn'). Ms Inman Grant will commence in January.

Read the press release

Senator Fifield's press conference

How should I talk to children about the result of the US election? November 10, 2016

Parents and teachers in Australia may be struggling with what to say to children after the US presidential election. This advice for US parents from US organisation, Common Sense Media might be helpful:

What should we tell our kids? Be tomorrow's leaders, today

ACCM wins Children's Week Award October 25, 2016

ACCM has received an award from the Children's Week Association of South Australia for "outstanding and consistent contributions to the needs, interests and welfare of children." The award was presented at an award ceremony at the City of Campbelltown Function Centre on 24 October.

Children’s Week is a national celebration of children’s rights, talents and citizenship. It is celebrated around Universal Children's Day which is held on the fourth Wednesday of October in Australia.  This year it runs from 22 to 30 October 2016. The Children’s Week theme for 2016 is the UNCRC Article 17 ‘Children have the right to reliable information from the media’

More information about Children's Week - including what is happening in your area

ACCM President Professor Elizabeth Handsley receives the award from Peter Sanderson, CEO Anglicare SA

Is TV's addiction to sports betting ads grooming kids to gamble? October 13, 2016

ABC TV's Media Watch program on 10 October discussed  the boom in betting ads during television sports programs such as the finals of NRL and AFL. Presenter Paul Barry pointed out that this put betting in front of children and compared this to the way that cigarette ads attracted children to smoking. He said that although betting ads are banned during programs that might be watched by kids, sport and programs like the Footy Show, which appeal to kids, are exempt from the rule and so is TV news. He called this "a massive loophole". 

More information, including video of the program and transcript

Read the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice - Section 6.5 deals with Betting and gambling

Australian study finds children increasingly in front of screens as they get older September 20, 2016

Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), run by Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that children are spending more time on front of their devices as they get older, with those aged 12 to 13 staring at screens for at least three hours a day. The study has tracked 4,000 children since 2004.

Read more on the LSAC website:

Chapter 5. Australian children's screen time and participation in extracurricular activities
Read Facts Sheet
Read Media release
Download infographic (PDF 215 KB)

NSW Legislative Council commends ACCM for Violence in the Media conference September 12, 2016

On 10 August, the Hon Greg Donnelly moved the motion “Violence and the Media Conference” in the Parliament of NSW Legislative Council. The motion which  was passed by the Council, read in part:

That this House acknowledges and congratulates the Australian Council on Children and the Media and the Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University for undertaking the organisation and conduct of the conference and expresses its hope that they may continue their most important research and advocacy work on the issue of media violence and its impact on children and young people

ACCM's app review service Know before You Load receives an award September 6, 2016

The National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) gives Play Your Part Awards  for "Inspiring prevention initiatives". ACCM's Know Before You Load (KBYL) app review service will be presented with an award on Wednesday 7 September. KBYL includes the Children and Gambling Watch List, which signals to parents those apps that have simulated gambling behaviour.

ACCM President, Professor Elizabeth Handsley at the NAPCAN award ceremony with
Senator Zed Seselja and SA Guardian for Children and Young People Amanda Shaw

More information about NAPCAN and the Play Your Part Awards

National eSmart Week 5-9 September 2016 September 5, 2016

National eSmart Week is an initiative developed by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, in partnership with Telstra Foundation.During National eSmart Week schools and libraries across Australia to showcase their commitment to cyber safety - last year more than 550 organisations took part in the week.

Read more on the Alannah and Madeline Foundation website.

Read a media release about eSmart Week from the Minister for Communications

Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner reports on a year of achievement. July 26, 2016

A year after its establishment on 1 July 2015, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has issued an online report on its achievements.

Read the report

Read the media release

US pediatricians speak out on virtual violence July 19, 2016

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement about the effects of virtual violence on children.

They say that their statement "aims to summarize the current state of scientific knowledge regarding the effects of virtual violence on children’s attitudes and behaviors and to make specific recommendations for pediatricians, parents, industry, and policy makers"

Read the policy statement

Read the Statnews article about the statement

Noni Hazlehurst and Sally Sara to join July conference discussion panel June 28, 2016

Noni Hazlehurst AM and Sally Sara from ABC Foreign Correspondent will join the final discussion panel at the Sydney Conference Violence in the Media: The stories and the science to be presented on 18 July by ACCM in partnership with Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University.

The panel will be facilitated by Prof Elizabeth Handsley, President of ACCM, and panel members are

  • Prof Graham Vimpani, NSW senior clinical advisor in child protection and wellbeing  
  • Dr Wayne Warburton, Senior lecturer in develoopmental psychology, Macquarie University  
  • Noni Hazlehurst AM actor, presenter, Logie winner
  • Sally Sara , ABC Foreign Correspondent

The panel will consider where we are in Australia:

  • with media coverage of violent events, and
  • with understanding the social impacts of violent entertainment, and
  • whether there are policies and practices that need to be changed.

More details of the conference, including registration can be found here