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Evidence Base

Parental controls: reimagining technologies for parent-child interaction

Publication details

Year: 2017
DOI: 10.18420/ecscw2017-28
Issued: 2017
Language: English
Authors: Bieke Zaman ; Nouwen M.; Jafarinaimi N.
Type: Report and working paper
Topics: Social mediation; Learning; Online safety and policy regulation
Sample: Two co-design sessions with Belgian parents and their children aged 9 to 12 (3 parents, 3 children) and 13 to 15 (4 parents, 4 children)
Implications For Parents About: Parental practices / parental mediation


This article questions existing approaches in designing parental controls and puts forward a hypothesis to reimagine technologies to mediate parent-child interactions. First, we present an overview of the current parental controls. Second, we explain the gradual shift away from the idea of ‘harmful’ digital media in parental mediation studies and introduce previous work in CSCW and HCI that has proposed solutions to support discussions about digital media between parents and children. Then, we hypothesize that an emphasis on collaboration and mutual learning might help researchers and designers to rethink and reimagine technologies that support parent-child interactions with and through digital media. Finally, we share our findings of two co-creation workshops with children and parents on ways to instill parental involvement in children’s digital media use. The workshop yielded insights on the differing views between parents and children about how technologies might instill long-term negotiations based on parents’ and children’s experiences, enriched by real-use data.


"We provided an overview of the current parental controls parents can use to keep their children safe online. These parental controls are successful in convincing parents who support a top-down management of digital media at home. We introduce the gradual shift away from the idea of ‘harmful’ digital media in parental mediation studies. The shift towards designing technologies to support parents in attaining mutual media agreements concerning screen time and the appropriateness of digital content. We put forward a hypothesis to support designers and researchers to reimagine how technologies can mediate parent-child interactions with and through digital media and to understand how technology might stimulate parent-child interactions." (Nouwen et al., 2017, pp. 12-13)

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