How Australian families are embracing online information

Blog Image for article How Australian families are embracing online information

Parents have strong relationships with their children, partners, friends and extended family, but there's another connection that supports mums and dads every day and through the years - and this is their affinity with online information.  

In fact, according to the Parenting Research Centre (PRC), parents are no longer simply 'going online' for reliable advice, news and content. Instead, they're 'living online' and seeking the counsel of internet searches and online sources regarding a wide range of childhood and parenting issues.


What is the research behind this thinking?

In his speech at the Research on Internet Interventions conference in 2019, the PRC's Principal specialist, Derek McCormack confirmed that online information rates highly for parents.  

It is second only to advice received from other parents, friends and neighbours; and according to the PRC's Parenting Today in Victoria survey, our reliance on online information has increased in recent years.  

This survey involved 2,600 parents, and one of the key findings was that 79 per cent of respondents use the Internet for parenting information.  

In addition, the PRC says that data collected from the Raising Children Australia website shows that, 'New and expectant parents conduct twice as many web searches as non-parents' and that 'transition phases,' and search terms like ‘introducing solids’ and ‘starting school’, are peak times for seeking support on a search engine.

Why are parents searching for online help?

According to Mr McCormack, there are several key reasons why parents go searching online for information, namely:

  • They want to solve a specific issue or concern
  • They're seeking practical tips and ideas
  • They're looking for reassurance that they're 'doing ok'
  • To increase their confidence
  • To know they're not alone

He explains that parents often feel judged and there's a lot at stake – the current and future wellbeing of their children is of great concern to them.



Has parenting information changed over time?

While many parenting topics are as relevant now as they were 50 years ago, Mr McCormack notes that, over the last decade, the Raising Children website has seen the emergence of topics that 'reflect broader changes in society'.  

This means in addition to perennial topics, like breastfeeding and toilet training, the site has added new content 'to keep pace with the changing nature of parenting'. This includes information about:

  • Step-families
  • Rainbow and same-sex families
  • Healthy screen time
  • Gender dysmorphia
  • Parenting in the context of family violence
  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Which websites are helpful for parents?

Whether a parent's first baby is about to be born or their youngest is off to university, there are many places to start, like using Google search results or other search engines to find reliable information and helpful advice.  

Here are 12 parenting websites that offer valuable content for free:

    With articles, tips and resources, help families find child care and provides a wealth of information about parenting, early learning, nannies, au pairs, babysitters, family day care, outside school hours care plus NQS ratings and thousands of reviews by parents who have shared their child care experiences.  
    Covering everything parents want to know about pregnancy, babies, children, teens, autism and disability, this Government-supported website provides ‘ad-free parenting videos, articles and apps backed by Australian experts.’  
    Supporting parents from pregnancy to preschool, this Government site provides trustworthy information, a Healthdirect Symptom Checker and it can put families in touch with a Maternal Child Health Nurse or a local health service.  
    Learning Potential provides ideas and tips for nurturing children's learning and development – all the way from their early years to the end of high school.  
    Kidsafe is focused on preventing child accidents, and its home safety, car and road safety, water safety, sports and play, and other safety resources are important to read.
    Bringing Up Great Kids helps parents raise happy and confident children. It's available in several languages and contains information about parenthood, children's experiences, their development and how parents can best respond to kids.
    ParentWorks is a free online program that 'provides evidence-based parenting strategies to improve parenting skills, confidence and child behaviour'. It's for parents of children aged two to 16 and is part of a University of Sydney research study.
    Early Childhood Australia contains information about children's health and nutrition, their first year at school, sleeping and separation anxiety.
    This Australian Institute of Family Studies site contains Government research into family well-being. It sheds light on a wide range of relevant issues, from co-parenting and bullying prevention to smacking and the cost of raising children.
    Providing evidence-based movie and app reviews, information and advocacy, this site helps parents choose age-appropriate and healthy media for their kids.
    This site is for parents of teens and it helps mums and dads support their 12 to 18-year-old 'through everyday issues and tough times'.
    Formerly known as KidsMatter, the Be You website is committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of children and teens in early learning services and schools. It is designed to empower educators but is interesting reading for parents too.

In this modern era, whether or not you are a first-time parent, it's not out of the norm for you to start searching the internet for specific information when you need support. Bookmark these websites to your default search engine to make getting online information much easier for you. This way, you won't have to go back and scroll through your long list of search history to find a specific site.


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