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Just because we can, should we? An anthropological perspective on the initiation of technology dependence to sustain a child’s life

Project description

Children growing dependent on technology

The number of children needing continuous access to technological devices is on the rise and brings with it clinical, legal and ethical concerns. This technology dependence is related to medical interventionism and hides a potential for discrimination. As empirical data on the influences and interactions of technology dependence are rare, ethical, clinical and legal considerations rely on opinion rather than empirical evidence. The EU-funded TechChild project aims to improve understanding of the coexistence of humans with technological augmentations across various health, legal and socio-cultural systems. The project intends to transform our conception of access to care and proposes a research perspective that considers cultural relativism in the cyborg era.


There is an increasing number of children with complex healthcare needs who require continuous technological support to sustain their lives. This technology dependence is initiated in an environment of medical interventionism, with potential for discrete discrimination. A scarcity of empirical data on the influences and interactions at the point of the initiation of technology dependence means that clinical, legal and ethical deliberations are driven more by opinion than empirical evidence. An evidence-based theoretical construct is required to articulate and contextualise the levers and penalties of the initiation of this technology. TechChild asks just because we can, should we? and how are the influences on the initiation of technology dependence understood in contrasting health, legal, and socio-political systems? Serendipitous findings from my research indicates parental concern regarding an absence of transparency, and parents are questioning patterns of family characteristics, when technology dependence is initiated. TechChild will be a step change in how we understand the coexistence of humans with an increasing availability of technological augmentations. This is urgent in a society where this debate predominantly happens in the public domain with limited opportunity for healthcare professionals to offer their perspective. TechChild will revolutionise how we conceive access to care and offers a research horizon that questions cultural relativism in a cyborg era. This is a scholarly ambitious project involving Paediatric Intensive Care Units in four international sites using a Bayesian framework to elicit the probability of factors likely to influence the initiation of technology dependence, leading to the development of a theory of technology initiation. This ground-breaking exploration will inform technology initiation across the lifespan with implications for healthcare, bioethics, education, parenting, policy making, and legal.



Net EU contribution
€ 507 185,69
4 Dublin

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Ireland Eastern and Midland Dublin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (2)