Graphic design websites are one of the most popular ways for children to learn about the world around them.

They can be great for teaching and building interest in subjects they might otherwise not have studied, or even for entertaining them.

But according to research conducted by a team of Australian researchers, children’s visual media literacy is lower than adults, even if they are exposed to different kinds of media.

Key points:Researchers looked at data from the 2013-2014 Australian Research Council study of more than 2,000 children aged between four and 10 years.

The researchers found graphic design websites were more likely to be used by children who are reading books and other media than adults.

“The findings of this study highlight the need to explore new and interesting ways to promote the digital literacy of children,” Dr Peter Smith, senior author of the research from the University of Sydney’s Institute for Educational Technology, said in a statement.

“By developing a visual literacy approach to graphic design, educators and parents can encourage the next generation of visual learners to take up the arts, and create a brighter future for their children.”

The researchers used a data set known as the National Centre for the Study of Learning and Development (NCSL) and Australian Centre for Teaching and Learning (ACTL) data to identify the types of graphic design media that children were most likely to have access to in the past.

Among the categories were: books, magazines, posters and comics.

Children who were exposed to graphic designs in the context of graphic books and magazines were also more likely than those who did not to read the latest issue of the National Geographic or any other graphic design publication.

This could be because of their age, as children tend to be more interested in reading and thinking about their favourite books, or because they were exposed via the media early on, like television and movies.

“While graphic design can be a useful way to engage with the world in a way that children and adults are not yet capable of, it’s important that we look beyond just that to understand what makes these types of design particularly engaging for children,” Professor Smith said.

According to the researchers, graphic design is one of a number of “subcategories of digital media” that are “likely to be relevant to the development of children’s digital literacy”.

“The main focus of this research is to identify areas where digital literacy can be enhanced through the use of visual media, including digital design, interactive design and digital illustration.”

The findings are published in the journal Science and Technology of Education.