“I PREFER TO BUILD TRUST” – EXAMINING PARENTAL CONFIDENCE IN CHILDREN’S DIGITAL SKILLS
Keywords:Children, Digital skills, Parenting, Family, Social media
Digital and social media has become deeply intertwined into children’s mundane daily routines. Considered to be digital natives, young people are often assumed to be experts in using digital and social media. As they are indeed enthusiastic users of new devices and social media platforms, children might be quick in picking up on platform’s features and affordances. However, their ability for a strategic understanding of risks and opportunities is often questioned. Parental anxiety about children’s engagement with digital and social media stems from their lack of confidence in children’s ability to navigate online risk. While academic research attempted to identify and measure digital skills, less is known how these skills are negotiated in the family.
Drawing on separate home-based interviews with children and parents, this paper looks at the approaches parents use to govern children’s digital and social media use. It discusses how confidence in children’s abilities – or varying degrees of it – affects the parental approach and success in working with their children on developing safe digital practices. Three dominant parental approaches identified across the sample are practices where parents act as *watchdog*, *chaperon* and/or *collaborator*. Central to each of these approaches are varying degrees of trust in children’s ability to engage in safe practices online.