Sukk, Marit, & Andra Siibak (2021, July). Caring dataveillance and the construction of “good parenting”: Estonian parents’ and pre-teens’ reflections on the use of tracking technologies. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1515/commun-2021-0045) (Link: https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2021-0045)

Abstract: Digital parenting tools, such as child-tracking technologies, play an ever-increasing role in contemporary child rearing. To explore opinions and experiences related to the use of such tracking devices, we conducted Q methodology and a semi-structured individual interview-study with Estonian parents (n=20) and their 8- to 13-year-old pre-teens (n=20). Our aim was to study how such caring dataveillance was rationalized within the families, and to explore the dominant parenting values associated with the practice. Relying upon communication privacy management theory, the issues of privacy related to such intimate surveillance were also studied. Three factors relating to the use of tracking technologies were extracted from both parents (Tech-Trusting Parent, Cautious Parent and Careful Authoritarian Parent) and pre-teens (Compliant Child, Autonomous Child, and Privacy-Sensitive Child). Tracking technologies were viewed as parental aids that made it possible to ease anxieties and provide assurance to parents and children alike. Although children did not associate the use of tracking technologies with intrusion on privacy, they expected to have a chance to coordinate their privacy boundaries.

Marit Sukk <marit.sukk@ut.ee> and Andra Siibak <andra.siibak@ut.ee> are in the Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.

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