There are many ways in which research impact can be defined – ranging from broader to more specific definitions. Essentially impact means finding ways to contribute to desired social changes by drawing on the research findings and working with stakeholders. Global Kids Online emphasises efforts to positively impact children’s well-being and rights in relation to the digital environment nationally and internationally.

Global Kids Online identifies five areas of potential impact:

  • Academic impact: this relates to contributing to the long-term scientific evidence base on children and the internet through publishing high-quality, relevant research in peer-reviewed books, journals and other relevant fora.
  • Conceptual impact: relates to influencing and reframing debate and dialogue among key stakeholders (academics, policymakers, NGOs, media) to affect their knowledge, understanding and attitudes about child rights in the digital age.
  • Capacity-building impact: this refers to building competence at individual, organisational or systemic levels in the country you work. It can be related to creating competence to generate, communicate, analyse, or use research on children and the internet and can serve multiple purposes – teaching, academic publishing, advocacy, policy development, engaging in new practices.
  • Collective impact: this type of impact relates to brokering new partnerships, networks or strategic alliances within and between countries. It aims to develop joint commitments and common agendas around child rights in the digital age to foster longer-term social change.
  • Instrumental impact: refers to being able to demonstrate a plausible contribution to changes in behaviour, policies, programmes and practice regarding child rights in the digital age within focal countries and across the international community more broadly.

When planning your knowledge exchange and impact, it is important to consider the full range of possible impact areas. Based on these areas, you can identify a variety of opportunities to create a positive change to children’s online experiences and well-being. Pay attention to identifying cause and effect from your activities and gathering the evidence for your impact, which can be challenging. Long-term impact may be difficult to capture within the lifespan of the projects. However, it is generally possible to capture ‘intermediate outcomes’ or ‘pathways to impact’ which signpost plausible longer-term impacts.

 Our future depends on your ability to positively impact the world. ­(LSE Impact)

Global Kids Online works as a partnership of affiliated but independent country projects. Our approach to impact is to create strategic collaborations based on common goals, cross-country comparisons, and shared lesson-learning. Sharing good practice also allows new countries to benefit from the expertise of others further along the research to policy and practice spectrum. We, therefore, monitor the uptake of our work in multiple ways, acknowledging a holistic range of intermediate impacts across our research.

Our approach follows several key guiding principles: the need for a holistic understanding of impact; planning for impact from the outset; seeing impact as a process as well as an output; focusing on contribution, not attribution; having an opportunistic mindset; learning from failure; and being able to do more with less.


Further resources:

Getting started with impact

Key steps in planning impact

Planning and monitoring impact

Engaging with stakeholders


Anyone may use the resources under the Attributive Non-Commercial Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC) crediting Global Kids Online as the source.

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