HDR Scholarship - Child and adolescent wellbeing in the smartphone era

Applications now open

A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Child and adolescent wellbeing in the smartphone era'

Project Supervisor

Associate Supervisor


Melbourne Burwood or Warrnambool Campus

Research topic

Over the past decade, portable screen-based, internet-enabled devices have become an everyday item for most people. The popularity of smartphones and tablets in particular has seen a rapid uptake by children, teenagers, and adults. Presently in Australia, 94% of teenagers and 63% of primary-school aged children have their own dedicated smartphone or tablet. There is emerging evidence that excessive screen use may have negative impacts on children and adolescents, particularly with respect to poor sleep, reduced physical activity, and increased exposure to online bullying. However, there are many questions still to consider with respect to the possible impact of excessive screen use in childhood and adolescence. Current longitudinal studies aim to explore the potential for neurological change in developing children and adolescents as a function of excessive screen use, however there is presently little research aimed at examining the potential relationship between excessive screen use and socio-emotional development in children and adolescents.

This research project aims to understand the social and emotional implications of excessive screen use via qualitative and quantitative research methodology, as well as develop evidence-based guidelines and public health messaging aimed at empowering young people and their parents to better manage their own technology use.

This position is located at the Melbourne Burwood or Warrnambool Campus. If the successful candidate is to be based at the Warrnambool campus they may be offered re-location assistance and short term accommodation support if required.

Project aim

The aims of this project are to;

  1. Conduct a review of the literature regarding technology-related barriers associated with poorer socio-emotional developmental outcomes in children and adolescents (e.g. excessive screen time, reduced socialisation opportunities, sedentary lifestyle, cyberbullying etc.). For balance, the review should include screen-based digital assistance aimed to support behaviours that promote wellbeing and healthy development in childhood and adolescents, but the primary area of interest is the potential for screen-based detriment to social and emotional development.
  2. Undertake a broad qualitative and quantitative investigation, informed by the literature, to identify screen-based factors that promote or inhibit healthy social and emotional development in children and adolescents.
  3. Create guidelines, informed by the NHMRC Standards for Guidelines, to address the screen-based issues or barriers to healthy socio-emotional development identified in part a. Part of this process will involve an investigation in to attitude and behavioural change approaches that are most likely to promote healthy use of screens. Behaviour change guidelines should be aimed at both users (children and adolescents) and their parents/caregivers.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed.


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $27,596 per annum tax exempt (2019 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate or overseas
  • International students only: Tuition fee and overseas health coverage for the duration of 4 years

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic or international candidate
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

How to apply

Learn more about submitting a successful application on the How to apply page

Find out more

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Sharon Horwood

Dr Sharon Horwood
Email Sharon Horwood
+61 3 556 33294