Preparing for a Digital Future

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Researchers in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science are conducting a three-year research project on Preparing for a Digital Future, supported by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation from 2014-2017. The research team, led by Professor Sonia Livingstone working with Dr Julian Sefton-Green and Dr Alicia Blum-Ross, is undertaking a series of qualitative case studies to investigate how children and young people, along with their parents, carers, mentors and educators imagine and prepare for their personal and work futures in a digital age.

This research builds on the findings from The Class, led by Professor Livingstone and Dr Sefton-Green and funded by the MacArthur Foundation from 2011-2014, an ethnographic study that examined the emerging mix of on- and offline experiences in teenagers’ daily learning lives. This research was published as part of a new book series on ‘Connected youth and digital futures’ from NYU Press as The Class: Living and Learning in a Digital Age in 2016 (summaries of some of the findings can be found here).

NOTE: we regularly update our research blog www.parenting.digital with observations from our research, publications, and contributions from guest bloggers working in research and advocacy roles in a variety of fields relating to children, families and digital media.

Preparing for a Digital Future has two interlinked strands:

Parenting for a digital future

  • How do parents and carers approach the task of bringing up their children in the digital age?
  • What is their vision of their children’s future and that of the wider society?
  • What risks or opportunities do they see opening up for them and their children?
  • How then do they conceive of being a ‘good parent’ and how do they evaluate the learning and socialisation resources available to their children?
  • And how do their children view and respond to their parents’ hopes, fears and values regarding digital media?

From the days of early films and comics to today’s social networks, tablets and multiplayer online games, technology has always entered into the discourses of parenting, raising new hopes and fears and necessitating shifts in parenting practices. Yet the pace of recent advances in digital media – not to mention talk about smart homes, geo-location apps, driverless cars and the internet of things – leaves many parents and carers increasingly anxious about what these changes will mean for their children, now and in the future. Parents are left unsupported by the polarised public debate about the detrimental effects of ‘screen time’ on the one hand, and the visions of digital media as offering radically-new pathways to academic achievement, or self-expression on the other. To aid parents and policy-makers in assessing the available evidence, we have written a policy brief and a series of blog posts on the current state of research on ‘screen time’ including case studies from our own research.

To understand parental conceptions of the ‘digital future,’ we invite participants to reflect on imagery of the future as well as the changing nature of childhood since their own youth. Parenting discourses often foreground notions of ‘best practice’ or ‘ideal pathways’ or, more prosaically, what ‘most people do’. But in reality, we are finding that parents and carers are highly diverse, so we are exploring the different economic, religious, social and cultural contexts in which parents negotiate these choices and also highlight the diversity in parents’ orientations to the digital future.

See our blog for updates.

Preparing for creative labour

  • What are the barriers and enablers to young people’s transition from participation in semi-formal creative learning organisations to paid work in the cultural and creative industries?
  • How can young people learn about and take advantage of progressions between and across different forms of social structure, qualifications infrastructure and institution to be able to develop organised careers in an increasingly-precarious economic landscape?
  • How and in what ways do the generic properties of ‘digital creativity’ create different kinds of opportunity for employment and movement across traditional work roles?
  • What notions of learning identity and continuous ‘professional’ development support or hinder entry into work?

We will engage both with young ‘filmmakers’, to reflect with those who have started careers about the influences that shaped them, and with educators and mentors from non-formal learning organisations in the UK and other English-speaking countries to consider the supports they put in place to help their young people explore these career trajectories. Working directly with learning organisations, including the British Film Institute’s Film Academy, this research will provide recommendations how to support young people effectively, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to use their newly-developed skills and experiences as they begin to enter the ‘world of work’; and to map the complex mix of pathways, life-skills, barriers and opportunities that young people have to navigate and learn as they move from leisure interests to paid employment.

Funding

This research is part of the Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN), funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative, which examines how children and young people connect their learning experiences in school, home, with peers and in interest-driven activities. CLRN and the Connected Learning Alliance advocate for parents, schools and government to support learning that reflects and is embedded in children and young people’s social worlds and interests, and helps create equal educational, economic and political opportunity.

Research Team 

Principal Investigator: Professor Sonia Livingstone

Principal Research Fellow: Dr  Julian Sefton-Green

Research Officer: Dr Alicia Blum-Ross

Contact

For more information, please contact: a.blum-ross@lse.ac.uk

Twitter

@Livingstone_S

@aliciablumross

Related research

CLRN’s agenda for research and design

Digital Media and Learning Research Hub

LSE’s Media Policy Project

EU Kids Online

Makerspaces in the Early Years (MakEY)

The Digital Literacy and Multimodal Pracices of Young Children (DigiLitEY)

Blogs

Publications

Videos

In the News

Presentations

Updates

Call for Regulation on Securing Children’s Data in Personalised Reading

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Book Review: American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

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Online Child Protection in Rural Kenya

Caleb Ndaka is a project lead in Kenya, working for Kids Comp Camp. As Kenya focuses on initiatives to bring billions more online, Caleb  asks: how can we prepare for child protection online and also make use of the learning opportunities it will bring? Kids Comp-Camp is an organisation which seeks to reach out to children aged 8–15 in marginalised communities, to equip them with computing skills. Since it was set up in 2014, it has engaged more than 6,300 children, and for 90%, this was their first

The ‘Joys’ of Digital Media in New Parenting

Maja Sonne Damkjaer explores how new parents are using digital media in their transition to parenthood. As new parents engage with media such as pregnancy calendars and social media such as Facebook, Maja suggests that it is now necessary for parents to decide on a parental communication strategy as they navigate these digital contexts. Maja is a research assistant at the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark, and her PhD project is part of the research programme, The Mediatization

Is There a ‘Family Factor’ in Mediation? A Jamaican Perspective

How do different family types influence the parent’s role in a child or teen’s life online? Anthea Edalere-Henderson looks to Jamaican family relations to understand online engagement. Anthea works at CARIMAC, The University of the West Indies, Mona where she is interested in the development of a critical Caribbean scholarship for understanding 21st century information technologies. Her research is focused on communication and media studies, with a special emphasis on the globalised forms of media techn

Researching Childhood in a Digital Age: New Book Chapter

In the new edition of one of the key methods texts in childhood research – Research with children: Perspectives and practices, edited by Pia Christensen and Allison James – Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross argue that paying attention to the digital reveals a lot about children’s identities and relationships. The previous 2008 edition barely mentioned mobile phones, social networking, online identities or digital games, with researchers implicitly prioritising face-to-face interaction. Yet as chi

BBC Interview Dad, and the Joys and Perils of Parenting on the Internet

Alicia Blum-Ross takes a closer look at the infamous ‘BBC interview dad,’ and the representation of parenting on the internet to explore the delicate and unique balancing act of those families who achieve unintended viral success. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. In addition to her work on the Parenting for a Digital Future research project, she is interested in youth media production. Header image credit: Screenshot of BBC website Unless you’

Creating the Future of Digital Learning in the US

The 2016 National Education Technology Plan has just been released in the US, and Renee Hobbs reviews some key ideas from it, discussing how it aligns with digital and media literacy education. Renee is Professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Media Education Lab, Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island, USA.Image credit: B. Flickinger, CC BY 2.0 I’ll be the first to admit that I have not been a fan of the US federal government’s approach to educati

What Is ‘Play’ and ‘Playfulness’, and What Does It Mean to Join Either Term Together With Learning?

Julian Sefton-Green explores what play is and what play is not, and whether it truly is ‘the work of the child’. Julian is an independent scholar working in education and the cultural and creative industries. He is currently leading the project Preparing for Creative Labour and is a principal research fellow at the Department of Media & Communication, LSE, a research associate at the University of Oslo and visiting professor at The Playful Learning Centre, University of Helsinki.Image cr

‘Space Invaders’: Are Smartphones Really Transforming Parents and Adolescents’ Ways of Communicating?

Marina Everri takes a closer look at the ways in which smartphones impact family life in Italy, and whether they are changing the ways in which parents and adolescents interact. Marina is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.Image credit: M. Paradis, CC BY-NC 2.0 Recent surveys show that teenagers mainly access the internet through their smartphones, with the use of other mobile devices, s

Supporting and Developing Parents’ Strategies for Children’s Use of Digital Media at Home

Natalia Kucirkova explores the inherent difficulties in balancing children’s media use and concludes that there is no magic formula for a balanced media diet. Natalia is a Senior Research Fellow at the University College London. She researches innovative ways of supporting children’s reading engagement with digital books and the role of personalisation in early years. Image credit: M. Kwan, CC BY-SA 2.0 Children’s use of technology is often homogenised and described in generic terms of either

Making the Familiar Strange: Studying the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Meryl Alper shares insights from her new book, Giving voice: Mobile communication, disability, and inequality. She discusses how her study of parents raising children with disabilities in the digital age also became a snapshot of the global Syrian refugee crisis. Meryl is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University and Faculty Associate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.Image credit: P. Marioné, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 You don’t have

Bridging Time Between Home and the Mine: Parenting Through Social Media in Northern Chile

The necessity of parents working away from home has an impact on the children left behind, and many parents are using digital media to keep in touch. Nell Haynes looks at the particular case of miners in Chile and their ways of parenting from a distance. Nell is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University. She works in partnership with the Why We Post project at University College London. Her work focuses on popular culture, media, gender and race in Andea

Bringing Social Media Into the Curriculum: New Ways of Teaching and Learning?

Laura Pountney reflects on new ways of teaching and learning, where social media platforms have become part of A level sociology and anthropology curricula. Laura is a teacher of anthropology and sociology at Colchester Sixth Form College, senior examiner for A level anthropology, and author of several textbooks. She has been involved with curriculum development, teacher training and projects such as the UCL Why We Post research.Image credit: F. Osorio, CC BY 2.0 Many parents are interested in how

Digital Skills Matter in the Quest for the ‘Holy Grail’

As part of the European Commission Study on the impact of marketing through social media, online games and mobile applications on children’s behaviour, Sonia Livingstone and her colleagues published an analysis of a survey of 6,400 European parents to see whether they are finding the ‘holy grail’ of managing their children’s internet use. Today is Safer Internet Day, and Sonia takes a closer look at how European parents try to optimise their children’s online opportunities while also minimisi

The Controversial Named Persons Provision in Scotland

Wendy M. Grossman discusses the problems surrounding the Named Persons provision in Scotland and the state’s role in children’s lives. She argues that the controversy surrounding this policy is exceptionally hard for parents to navigate. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music. Image credit: B. Flickinger, CC BY 2.0 Sonia Livingstone has previously written a

The Internet of Toys

With the rapid expansion in ‘smart’, interconnected toys, what is being done to regulate, for example, the data they generate? Giovanna Mascheroni looks into some of the hopes and concerns surrounding the internet of toys. Giovanna is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Università Cattolica, Milan and visiting fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at the LSE. She part of the EU Kids Online research team and of the COST Action DigiLitEY.Image credit: L. Proppe, CC BY-NC 2.0

Micro-Microcelebrity: Famous Babies and Business on the Internet

Crystal Abidin explores lifestyle Influencers and babies as the new ‘micro-microcelebrity’. Crystal is an anthropologist and ethnographer who studies vernacular internet culture. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at the National University of Singapore, Affiliated Researcher at Media Management and Transformation Centre (MMTC) at Jönköping University, and co-investigator with the Science, Technology and Society (STS) cluster at the Asia Research Institute (ARI).Image credit: C. Rahan

When Is a Toothbrush Not Just a Toothbrush?

Joanna Adler looks into the fast-changing world of technology, connectivity and digital resilience. She writes this post in a personal capacity and tells us about a bluetooth enabled toothbrush for children, which raised a lot of questions about security vulnerabilities, protecting our privacy and data. Joanna is Professor of Forensic Psychology and Director of Forensic Psychological Services at Middlesex University. Her research is interested in violence, hate and safety and in young people’s experien

ClassDojo Poses Data Protection Concerns for Parents

Ben Williamson and Alasdair Rutherford raise a series of concerns about the globally popular classroom management app ClassDojo. They argue that as ClassDojo has grown into a new social media site for schools, it poses a number of risks in relation to data protection and child privacy, and to how children, teachers and parents interact. Ben and Alasdair are both based in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling, UK. Ben is a Lecturer in Education, and led the ESRC funded project Code Act

What Are the Effects of Touchscreens on Toddler Development?

Should you let your toddler use an iPad? Do we know how touchscreen devices affect infants and toddlers? Celeste Cheung is a postdoctoral researcher at Birkbeck University of London and works on the TABLET project, which investigate how 6- to 36-month olds use touchscreen devices, and how these may impact their brain, cognitive and social development. Celeste discusses how preliminary study findings indicate that time spent on a device, as well as the content and context of screen use matter. In Aug

The Peculiar Joylessness of Neuroparenting

Jan Macvarish interrogates the ‘new’ science of neuroparenting, and the idea that parents are the ‘architects’ of their babies’ brains and therefore of their future happiness and life chances. She argues that this assumption has a persistent cultural and political power, and explores the role of expert advice and parental instincts. Jan is a researcher and lecturer with the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, University of Kent. Her research interests are located in sociology, and social

Follow the Money

Martin Schmalzried, a Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE), explores the power and control of private companies over internet access and usage. His piece follows a special workshop¹ convened by the Media Policy Project and Parenting for a Digital Future on ‘Families and “screen-time”: challenges of media self-regulation’ and the publication of a policy brief about families and “screen time”, authored by Alicia B

The Need for Parity of Protection

Julia Fossi explores the diverse interests of children and the rich lives they lead online. She argues that to reflect the modern experiences of children, steps must now be taken to equally protect them online and offline. Julia is Acting Head of Child Safety Online at the NSPCC, where she is responsible for all policy and the charity’s related programme of work in relation to child safety online. This includes issues such as online child sexual abuse, online harassment, hatred and bullying, and chil

An Example From Flanders on How to Inform and Support Parents in Media Education

Sofie Vandoninck, Marije Nouwen and Bieke Zaman investigate parents’ and children’s experiences, attitudes and feelings about digital media, as well as how families deal with the current challenges they are facing. They were involved in the development of content for MediaNest, an online platform for parents recently launched by Mediawijs, the Flemish Knowledge Centre for Media Literacy. Sofie and Marije are researchers at the Meaningful Interactions Lab (Mintlab) and Bieke Zaman is Professor in Human-c

How Brexit Could Affect Media Content for Children and Families

Wendy M. Grossman provides a non-lawyer’s first stab at thinking though what the UK can and cannot change if and when the government pulls the trigger to begin exit negotiations from the EU. She discusses how children may grow up in a vastly different national landscape than the one we know today. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music. As even Leave campaigners h

Opportunity for All? Digital Equity in the Lives of Lower-Income U.S. Families

Vikki Katz shares key insights into how lower-income families in the U.S. with children in school are meaningfully connected to the internet. She argues that this is especially important to ensuring equal access to learning opportunities. Vikki is an Associate Professor at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information, and Senior Research Scientist at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. She is also principal investigator in the Digital Equity and Opportunity for All project,

When Parents Choose ‘Screen Time’ – Real Lives Behind the New AAP Guidelines

Alicia Blum-Ross discusses how the newly revised ‘screen time’ recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are actively trying to address the diversity of parents, but the conversation around ‘screen time’ still lacks counterbalance to the negative messages parents often receive about digital media. She argues that research findings from the Parenting for a Digital Future project tell a more nuanced story of digital technologies and family life. Alicia is a researcher at the

New ‘Screen Time’ Rules From the American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just revised its stance on screen time. Sonia Livingstone takes a closer look at the new recommendations and their evidence base. She argues that while the new guidelines fit better with the current circumstances of family lives, the AAP faces a dilemma: there isn’t yet a robust body of research on the effects of digital media on children, yet parents want guidance now. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communic

Digital Parenting or ‘Just’ Parenting?

Has ‘digital parenting’ simply become another dimension of parenting, as ‘traditional’ parenting spills over into the ‘online’ world, with social skills, sexuality education, a healthy balance in children’s activities, social and emotional learning, and values such as respect all be transposed to online settings? Martin Schmalzried, a Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE), explores the dilemmas of modern parenting. His 

YouTube in The Class

Most children love YouTube, but what do they love about it? Sonia Livingstone unpacks the individual stories behind the shared fascination. Together with Julian Sefton-Green, she followed a class of London teenagers for a year to find out more about how they are, or in some cases are not, connecting online. The book about this research project¹, The Class: living and learning in the digital age, just came out. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications 

Where and When Does a Parent’s Right to Share End Online?

Alicia Blum-Ross shares insights from the Parenting for a Digital Future project and how parents assess the risks and benefits of ‘sharenting’. She discusses how parent bloggers decide what is OK to share online, where and with whom, as well as how they imagine their children will think about what they have chosen to share when they grow up. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. In addition to her work on the Parenting for a Digital Future research project,

Book Review: Reclaiming Conversation – the Power of Talk in a Digital Age

Wendy M. Grossman reviews Sherry Turkle’s most recent book, Reclaiming conversation: The power of talk in a digital age. Wendy explores how human connection has changed and how families must negotiate how they allow technology to disrupt their lives. She writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music. [Header image credit: Peggy, CC BY 2.0] Last year’s six-person Chris

The Content and Context of Screen Use Is More Important Than the Amount of Screen Time

Mark Griffiths reflects on the realities, implications and consequences of “screen time” in the context of gaming. He argues that it is not about the amount of screen use, but rather about its content and context. His piece follows a special workshop¹ convened by the Media Policy Project and Parenting for a Digital Future on ‘Families and “screen-time”: challenges of media self-regulation’ and the publication of a new policy brief about families and “screen time”, authored by Alic

School Census Changes Add Concerns to the Richest Education Database in the World

Jen Persson  discusses the background and implications of the Department for Education’s policy and practice on collecting and sharing the personal data of 20 million children in the National Pupil Database. There has been no public or parliamentary consultation on recently proposed changes to collect pupils’ country of birth and other personal data, and this raises significant questions of trust and privacy invasion. Jen is coordinator of defenddigitalme, which campaigns for children’s privacy

Why do educators advocate for digital media and learning, and whose interests are served?

Parents turn to educators for advice on how they should integrate digital media into their children’s learning. Yet educators are not in agreement about what digital media can offer to children and young people’s learning. Summarising the key findings from an article written with Alicia Blum-Ross, published this week in a special issue of the Journal of Digital and Media Literacy, Sonia Livingstone examines how educators’ hopes for digital media have, over time, moved from ‘voice’ to ‘entreprene

Do You Ever Grow Out Of Digital Parenting?

Lelia Green takes a closer look at how parents’ attitudes to children’s digital media use change as they move towards adulthood. Lelia is Professor of Communications in the School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia. Her current research investigates the different influences of parents and peers on young people’s internet use. Leslie Haddon’s and my recent research with parents of four 17-year-old male online gamers indicates that the high level of skills and com

Beyond Digital Immigrants? Rethinking The Role Of Parents In A Digital Age

Do parents find the new digital age a frightening place to be? Sonia Livingstone considers recent media stories and what might really be going on in family’s homes. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She directs the EU Kids Online project and is the lead investigator of the Parenting for a Digital Future research project. Is anxi

Book Review: Parenting Out Of Control

Charlotte Faircloth discusses Margeret Nelson’s book Parenting out of control and discusses how class affects parents’ use of technology. Charlotte is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Roehampton, London, UK. She is also a Visiting Scholar and founding member of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS) at the University of Kent. At a recent CPCS forum at the University of Kent, the book Parenting out of control by Margaret Nelson was discussed. This

#Parentfails and Triumphs – Favorite Podcasts and Learning from Others

Alicia Blum-Ross tells us how she, as a researcher and mum, keeps up with debates on parenting and technology. She listens to podcasts on her daily commute and she shares some of her favourite ones. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is part of the Parenting for a Digital Future research project. One of the things we wanted to illustrate through this blog is that there is no single ‘right way’ to pare

Hello From the Other Side of Music Video Regulation

If we were rating music videos from the 80s, would Boy George’s be considered too subversive? The scantily clad women on Addicted to Love not for our children’s eyes? Or should common sense prevail? Rafal Zaborowski is an LSE Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications. He is interested in music reception and social practices of listening, the co-evolution of media audiences and media institutions as well as in critical, qualitative methods of academic inquiry. He tweets via @myredtowel. P

​Mining Data and the Database State

It used to be ‘Big Brother is watching you’, and we worried about CCTV, but today’s children are being watched in their ‘real’ lives as in their virtual lives. So what right do they have to privacy? Wendy M. Grossman takes a closer look at this issue, with some startling findings. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music. “But she has no data”, Katie Bond p

Book review: Kids in the middle

Wendy M. Grossman takes a closer look at Vikki Katz’s work on how children of immigrants ‘broker’ for their parents, focusing on Hispanic families in Los Angeles. In particular, she explores the impact of digital technology, and how this is helping or hindering in the brokering process. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music. ‘The family home has long been a

Why We Post – Why people use social media around the world

Nine anthropologists from University College London simultaneously spent 15 months in Brazil, Italy, India, China, Trinidad, Turkey, England and Chile to study how people around the world use social media. Alicia Blum-Ross takes a closer look at the Why We Post project and finds that it demonstrates that what young people do online has meaning, and is consequential to themselves and to others. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth med

What Are Pre-Schoolers Doing With Tablets And Is It Good For Them?

The undeniable reality is that ever younger children are gaining access to tablets, becoming proficient tablet users, but is this really in their best interests, developmentally? Sonia Livingstone highlights the findings of a recent report looking into young children’s digital play and opportunities. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She i

Are the Trolls Winning?

Guest blogger Wendy M. Grossman finds that it’s hard for parents and teachers to guide children to avoid bullying (online and off) when so many adults behave so visibly so badly. She takes a closer looks at bad behaviour online, and how to avoid ‘feeding’ the trolls while maintaining ‘freedom of speech’. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music.Are the troll

Reading the Runes to Anticipate Children’s Digital Futures

Technology use is changing fast, which makes things difficult for parents trying to prepare their children for the future. Sonia Livingstone looks at the recent CHILDWISE report¹ and provides four key messages to help predict what’s coming. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She is the lead investigator of the Parenting for a Digita

Book Review: Disconnected: Youth, New Media and the Ethics Gap

Guest blogger Wendy M. Grossman wonders whether it is right to be optimistic about our digital futures? She discusses Carrie James‘ new book Disconnected: youth, new media and the ethics gap in which the author suggests caution, emphasising time for reflection rather than disconnection. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music. Probably every parent in every g

What Parents Need to Know: Latest Trends in Children’s Internet Use

Alexandra Chernyavskaya takes a critical look at Ofcom’s latest Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report and outlines three current trends in children’s internet use, and why parents need to know what their children are doing online. Alexandra is a postgraduate student in the Department of Media and Communications at the LSE and she works as Project Support Assistant for the EU Kids Online project.When looking at the structure of the contemporary media ecosystem, it is hard to deny t

Teenagers Just Seem To Get Bad Press

Guest blogger Diane Levine looks at the delicate and often sensitive balance between prying or protection, and offers some useful tips for how parents and their teenagers can journey together in the online world. Diane has worked in government research on technology in education, and recently completed her PhD in the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick. She is a mother of two.According to a recent BBC News story, there is a debate ‘raging’ in South Korea about how much contr

Reasons to love parenting in the digital age

Of course parents are often the most acute observers of emerging ‘digital’ practices in their families, as we’ve noted before on this blog. But parents also discover and embrace technology for themselves. Judith Livingstone¹ recently had her first child and provides a humorous insight into her technological life, post-baby. After her maternity leave, she returned to her job as an associate at a London-based law firm, specialising in structured finance and regulated industry financing.Muc

Digital deception: legal questions surround new “YouTube Kids” app

As the YouTube Kids app was launched in November 2015 in the UK and Ireland, nine months after it hit the US market, Dale Kunkel discusses how Google is stirring the debate on what is and what isn’t acceptable when it comes to advertising to children. In April 2015, Dale partnered with a coalition of 10 public interest and child advocacy groups to file a formal complaint with theFederal Trade Commission against YouTube Kids. Dale is Professor of Communication at the University of Arizona and he studies th

Parents Are Now ‘Digital Natives’ Too – Thoughts from the 2015 Family Online Safety Institute Conference

Last week, we shared a range of insights from our Parenting for a Digital Future project at the 2015 Family Online Safety Institute Conference, which focused on the many benefits, opportunities, and challenges our online lives can offer. Alicia Blum-Ross reflects on the mixed messages that industry and research often provide to parents, as they are now increasingly ‘digital natives‘ themselves. She finds that monitoring and protection are important aspects of digital parenting, but so are fun and enj

Is Using Technology for Learning a Good Idea?

Monica Bulger takes a critical look at a recent OECD report about the benefits and drawbacks of using computers and technology to aid children’s learning. She concludes that talking to children about what they like to learn and how is the best way forward to support them. Monica leads the Enabling Connected Learning initiative at the Data & Society Research Institute specialising in children’s rights in digital and learning spaces. As parents are equipping their homes with technology to support

When is sexual content online more a right than a risk? And how can parents figure this out?

Sonia Livingstone shares the core findings and recommendations from her new report on young people’s sexual rights and risks online. She argues that we can no longer plead embarrassment or worries about pornography as the reasons why we as a society fail to educate, support and provide young people with the sexual information they have a right to. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a

Children’s Internet Use is More Personal, Mobile and Even Fair – While Parents Pick Up the Cost

Sonia Livingstone takes a closer look at the 2015 report by Childwise, a research agency that has been tracking UK children’s media use for almost twenty years. Sonia argues that the findings demand a steep learning curve from parents to keep up with the latest trends, but also challenges them to reach for their wallets.Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on chil

Is There Such a Thing as ‘Good’ Screen Time for Young Children?

As the ParentZone holds its 2015 Digital Families Conference in London today, Sonia Livingstone reflects on her research with British families, the role of digital technologies in their lives and the challenges parents face to manage young children’s media use. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She is the lead investigator of the

Online ‘baby role-playing’: between casual fantasy and real-life obsession

Guest blogger Wendy M. Grossman discusses the Instagram trend of ‘baby role-playing’, how parents might think about this and the legal and ethical challenges of sharing social media photos of children that are not your own. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music.How do parents think about online “baby role-playing”? Although the BBC and the Daily Mail s

Headphones in or out? (De)prioritising the social in digital media and learning

Alicia Blum-Ross reflects on recent ethnographic fieldwork for the Preparing for a Digital Future project, as she noticed striking variations in how social interaction, teamwork and collaboration are faciliated and encouraged in various digital media youth projects in the UK. She wonders whether young people’s headphones are literally or metaphorically in or out impact on their learning. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media pr

Parental Education & Digital Skills Matter Most in Guiding Children’s Internet Use

Sonia Livingstone looks at cross-national variations in how actively engaged parents are in their children’s online activities and finds that parents’ own skills shape the support they provide for their children. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She directed EU Kids Online until 2014 and is the lead investigator of Parenting for

Alan Kurdi and Parents as Witnesses

As a mother herself, Alicia Blum-Ross reflects on the upsetting and powerful images of three-year old Syrian refugee Alan whose body was washed onto a beach in Turkey last week. She finds that Alan’s death triggers our own sense of vulnerability as parents which is also a call to action. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is part of the Parenting for a Digital Future research project.It has been a fe

Parenting for a Digital Future – recent media appearances

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted one of three major press stories featuring our research on parenting and technology last week.Sonia was featured in an article in the Telegraph on Cyber safety: How protected are your children online? In it, journalist Zoe Brennan worried about the heavy reliance she and her children (teenagers and a toddler) have developed on ‘screen time’ during the school holidays. Brennan discussed maintaining a balance between outdoor activities and time spent on devices, and

Media literacy in Europe: inspiring ways to involve parents

Parents have a responsibility for supporting their children’s media literacy, but should be supported to do so, argues Tim Verbist. He is the Director of Media Meets Literacy and has been working for the Evens Foundation for more than 10 years, where he developed and leads the Media Program. This program focuses on initiating and supporting projects that enhance media literacy in Europe. It awards the biennial Evens Prize for Media Education for whichParenting for a Digital Future’s Sonia Livingstone s

Book review: It’s complicated – The social lives of networked teens

Guest blogger Wendy Grossman looks at our understanding of teenagers’ lives as ‘networked’, as ‘digital natives’, in light of danah boyd’s recent book ‘It’s complicated’. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a number of books, articles, and music.At the May 2015 Internet Policy Forum, sponsored by Nominet, Emma Mulqueeny discussed her part in writing January’s Digital Democracy report

Online extremism: why we need to be concerned and what we can do

Following the latest Better Internet for Kids Bulletin, guest blogger and independent eSafety consultant Karl Hopwood discusses the role of role parents, carers and other awareness raisers in trying to respond to online extremism and protect children and young people. Online extremism is getting a great deal of attention, especially as David Cameron recently announced a five-year plan to tackle Islamic radicalisation in Britain. The fear seems ever present that young people could be groomed online by vio

Why study parenting from a media studies perspective?

Sonia Livingstone discusses how traditional research disciplines have long caused a division of theories, ideas and conversations that fragmented the field. She argues that the internet brings all of these forms of scholarship together and how it makes media studies a potent approach to investigate parenting for a digital future. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus

What does it mean for children to have a ‘voice’ in research?

  Adults such as researchers, parents, teachers, etc. often speak for children and it is important, despite difficult, to figure out effective ways to hear children’s voices directly. Alicia Blum-Ross is part of a group that has brought together researchers from across the LSE to discuss children’s voice and she reflects on the diversity of perspectives. Over the past year we’ve brought together researchers from across the LSE to talk about practical approaches to and issues that emerge from re

E-Safety – It’s not just for teens

While E-safety initiatives often proritise older children, there are increasing efforts to make sure that internet safety is a priority for younger children as well. This and other debates from the recent UK Child Internet Safety Summit are discussed by Alexandra Chernyavskaya, a postgraduate student in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, who also draws on her background as the hotline manager for the Internet Association of Kazakhstan where she led the project dedicated to combating crimina

Young children and digital technology in Europe: important but not dominating

Credit: P. Put, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Alongside other researchers from seven countries across Europe, Svenja Ottovordemgentschenfelde recently contributed to a European Commission pilot study that investigated young children (0-8), families and digital technology. While the study found many common trends, Svenja highlights some country differences in parental management of media goods, contents and practices at home. She is a doctoral researcher at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and contribu

Book Review: Distrusting educational technology – Critical questions for changing times

Guest blogger Wendy M. Grossman reflects on Neil Selwyn’s recent book “Distrusting educational technology” and highlights its key arguments that counter the hype and optimism that typically surround educational technologies. She assesses Selwyn’s call for distrust of such technologies as fair, but finds that they still offer choices and opportunities. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award and she has released a num

Unwrapping the unboxing craze

What is this new phenomenon of ‘unboxing’? How can we explain its increasing popularity? Guest blogger Jackie Marsh explores the attraction of ‘unboxing’ videos on social media, in an attempt to understand more fully contemporary childhoods. Jackie is Professor of Education in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is interested in the relationship between childhood cultures, play and literacy in the digital age. For some, ‘unboxing’ was an unfamiliar phenomenon until

‘Sharenting:’ Parent bloggers and managing children’s digital footprints

Alicia Blum-Ross reflects on ‘sharenting’ and blogging as increasingly accepted parts of parenthood, and the ramifications of such practices for children as they grow up. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is part of the Parenting for a Digital Future research project. ‘Sharenting,’ is the slightly awkward term for when parents share photos and stories about their kids online, via social networks and blo

As ever younger kids go online, how is the family responding?

Tablets beat all other devices in terms of popularity amongst small children. Sonia Livingstone discusses her recent research on uses, skills and the family context of technology users who are yet too young to read or write. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She is the lead investigator of the Parenting for a Digital Future rese

Are social networking sites doing enough to keep children safe?

Guest blogger Julia Fossi, Senior Analyst in the Child Safety Online Team at the NSPCC, explores whether the numerous stakeholders involved in child protection are doing enough to keep children safe in the online world. She introduces a new asset to help parents stay up to date with the latest sites, apps and games, Net Aware. Julia’s work focuses on social networking sites, peer-on-peer abuse online, and inappropriate and violent material.  Every child should have the right to explore the world an

How parents make the future

Alicia Blum-Ross looks at children’s digital ‘future’, and the ‘intense anxiety’ experienced by some parents in finding a balance between maximising their children’s opportunities and future prospects, and limiting, for example, their ‘screen time’. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is part of the Parenting for a Digital Future research project. What does the future hold? That abstract destination

Young juries want a fair internet: deliberating over digital rights

Sonia Livingstone recently had the chance to listen to young people deliberate their online rights. Young people, just like adults, are trying to work out the digital environment for themselves and Sonia discusses some of their suggestions, anxieties and frustrations. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on children and young people. She is the lead investigator o

‘Barbie’: the smart choice of toy?

Robots are already far more pervasive than most people realise, from smart TVs to self-driving cars. As the introduction of ‘Smart Barbies’ could now also be invading our children’s privacy, Wendy M. Grossman explores the impact of such smart technology, and how we must not underestimate its risks. Wendy writes about the border wars between cyberspace and real life. She is the 2013 winner of the Enigma Award. Her website has an extensive archive of her books, articles, and music. The arrival of ‘Sm

What foster and adoptive parents need to know about digital media PART 2: The risks

In this second blog looking at digital opportunities and challenges for looked-after children and young people, Alicia Blum-Ross discusses how digitisation may exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, increase the risk of private information becoming more accessible, and challenge the responsibility to make sure children and young people feel protected, secure and that they belong. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is pa

Playing games together or hiding the tablet in the cupboard: What works when managing kids’ media use?

Alicia Blum-Ross is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is part of theParenting for a Digital Future research project. Alicia presents five parental strategies to manage children’s media use. She discusses what works, deconstructs some common myths and highlights that there is no perfect answer to family’s questions around media use. As technology changes, and families’ attention has shifted away from one big screen t

Five tips for doing research with schools, charities and NGOs

Conducting research on children, young people and learning often requires access to and help from schools, charities or NGOs. Alicia Blum-Ross draws on both struggles and success from previous projects with learning institutions and presents five key strategies to build meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is part of the Parenting for a Digital Future research p

What foster and adoptive parents need to know about digital media PART 1: The benefits

Looked after children are particularly vulnerable and Alicia Blum-Ross discusses some of the opportunities of digital media for foster and adoptive children. She finds that these can help young people to hold on to precious memories and relationships, to seek support and community, and to enjoy and learn. Alicia is a researcher at the LSE’s Department of Media and Communications. She is interested in youth media production and is part of the Parenting for a Digital Future research project. Childr

How do parents influence their children’s attitudes to life?

In December 2014, the government’s Horizon Scanning Programme published a report on the Social Attitudes of Young People. Svenja Ottovordemgentschenfelde takes a closer look and shares insights into the significant roles that parents play in shaping their children’s take on life. Svenja is a doctoral researcher at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and contributes to the Parenting for a Digital Future research project. From the moment a child is born, parents wonder (and worry)

Not just playing games: Moving on from hobbies to digital jobs

Julian Sefton-Green shares insights from his research on young people’s interest in digital technologies and how their formal and informal learning journeys helped them transformed their passions into genuine creative and digital opportunities. Julian is an independent scholar working in education and the cultural and creative industries. He is currently principal research fellow at the Department of Media & Communication, LSE, a research associate at the University of Oslo and visiting professor

iRights – advocating for children’s rights online

Sonia Livingstone thinks that promoting children’s rights in the digital age is an idea whose time has come. She discusses why it is difficult to tell who is a child online, how these and other issues can be addressed, and how the iRights initiative and its five simple claims attempt to deliver children’s rights online. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particular focus on

Now that kids are diversifying away from Facebook, how can parents keep up?

  As kids seem to be leaving Facebook, they turn to a range of other social media platforms. Sonia Livingstone discusses the latest research findings on which sites are safe and what more can be done to make them safe. She urges parents to talk to their children, but says it is time that policy makers keep an eye out for families. Sonia is Professor of Social Psychology at LSE’s Department of Media and Communications and has more than 25 years of experience in media research with a particu

UK research team launches “Parenting for a Digital Future” blog for international audience

Sonia Livingstone, Alicia Blum-Ross and Svenja Ottovordemgentschenfelde from the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science are conducting a multi-year research project on ‘Parenting for a Digital Future’. Alongside their research, they have just launched a blog of the same name to explore and share insights on the task of parenting for a digital future – both in the UK and internationally. Our research on Parenting for a Digital Fut

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