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Maja Sonne Damkjær

Parental Narratives of Smartphones in the Family: Negotiating Children’s Privacy, Safety and Autonomy

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Brief abstract Smartphones intersect with many anxieties for parents about their child’s increasing autonomy, their child’s safety and privacy. However, we know relatively little about parents’ perceptions of, experiences with and attitudes toward the role of smartphones in their children’s lives. Based on findings from in-depth interviews with 17 Danish families conducted in 2017, this paper examines and discusses parental narratives and beliefs about children's appropriation of smartphones, in order to foster nuanced discussions of how smartphones may challenge power structures and contribute to reconfiguring social relations. The analysis draws on affordance theory, the domestication perspective, surveillance studies and parental mediation theory.
Extended Abstract Smartphones sit at the intersection of many anxieties for parents about their child’s increasing autonomy, their child’s safety, privacy and the intrusion of the outside world into intimate family spaces (Clark, 2013; Lim, 2016). Simultaneously, parents themselves are immersed in intimate practices with smartphones, as the device for many has become an indispensable part of everyday life (Ling 2012; Mascheroni & Vincent, 2016). However, we know relatively little about parents’ perceptions of, experiences with and attitudes toward the role of smartphones in their children’s lives. This is the focus of this paper which examines and discusses parental beliefs about children's appropriation of smartphones, in order to foster nuanced discussions of how smartphones may challenge power structures and contribute to reconfiguring social relations. We draw on findings from in-depth interviews with 17 Danish families during six months in 2017, which focused on how the families implement and negotiate the use of digital technologies. Analytically, we interrogate the narratives constructed by parents to make sense of smartphones. We argue that these narratives can elucidate parents’ relations with smartphones, as well as how they interpret the relations their children form with them and the norms, values and aesthetics that underpin these understandings. In particular, we scrutinize parents’ perceptions of the risk and opportunities of children’s smartphone use and how intimate relations with the smartphone cause comfort and discomfort, and may inform decisions around smartphone use – especially parents’ incentives or disincentives to provide their children with smartphones. Theoretically, the analysis draws on affordance theory, the domestication perspective, surveillance studies and parental mediation theory. We introduce the concept of affordance (Hutchby, 2001) to highlight how parents perceive the smartphones’ capacity for action, especially what types of interaction it affords and constraints in the context of the family (Schrock, 2015). Further, we employ a domestication perspective to foreground the active role of the user when new technologies are adopted and how this domestic economy is coupled with society at large (Silverstone, Hirsch, & Morley, 1992; Hartman, 2006). This perspective argues the use and meanings of technologies are negotiated and (re)produced on the basis of the ‘the moral economy of the household’, which is the web of values, norms, and aesthetics that shape what is considered to be ‘the good life’ in different families. Lastly, we turn to digital media-focused surveillance studies (Albrechtslund 2008; Marwick 2012) and parental mediation theory (Clark, 2011) with the aim to scrutinize the strategies that the parents apply when they consider or make decisions about their children’s smartphone use. Specifically, we analyze and discuss how these choices are rooted in different conceptions of privacy, the line between care and control and what constitutes ‘good digital parenting’ in terms of setting restrictions for, monitoring or supervising their children’s technology use. We argue that the qualities of the smartphone and the practices associated with the device interact with existing, and emerging, parenting norms to reconfigure understandings of children’s privacy and agency in the context of the family. 
References Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online social networking as participatory surveillance. First Monday, 13(3). doi: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v13i3.2142Clark, L. S. (2011). Parental Mediation Theory for the Digital Age. Communication Theory, 21(4), 323-343. Clark, L. S. (2013). The parent app: Understanding families in the digital age. New York: Oxford University Press. Hartmann, M. (2006). The triple articulation of ICTs. Media as technological objects, symbolic environments and individual texts. In T. Berker, M. Hartmann, Y. Punie, & K. Ward (Eds.), Domestication of media and technology (pp. 80-102). London: Open University Press. Hutchby, I. (2001). Technologies, Texts and Affordances. Sociology, 35(2), 441-456.Lim, S. S. (2016). Through the tablet glass: transcendent parenting in an era of mobile media and cloud computing. Journal of Children and Media, 10(1), 21-29. Ling, R. (2012). Taken for grantedness: The embedding of mobile communication into society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Marwick, A. E. (2012). The public domain: Social surveillance in everyday life. Surveillance & Society, 9(4), 378. Mascheroni, G., & Vincent, J. (2016). Perpetual contact as a communicative affordance: Opportunities, constraints, and emotions. Mobile Media & Communication, 4(3), 310-326. Schrock, A. R. (2015). Communicative affordances of mobile media: Portability, availability, locatability, and multimediality. International Journal of Communication, 9, 1229-1246. Silverstone, R., Hirsch, E., & Morley, D. (1992). Information and communication technologies and the moral economy of the household. In R. Silverstone & E. Hirsch (Eds.), Consuming technologies: Media and information in domestic spaces (pp. 15-32). London: Routledge.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Udgivelsesår2019
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2019
BegivenhedSPT 2019: The Society for Philosophy and Technology 2019 Conference - Texas A&M University, Byran/College Station, USA
Varighed: 20 maj 201922 maj 2019

Konference

KonferenceSPT 2019: The Society for Philosophy and Technology 2019 Conference
LokationTexas A&M University
LandUSA
ByByran/College Station
Periode20/05/201922/05/2019

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