Protection or punishment? relating the design space of parental control apps and perceptions about them to support parenting for online safety

by   Ge Wang, et al.

Parental control apps, which are mobile apps that allow parents to monitor and restrict their children's activities online, are becoming increasingly adopted by parents as a means of safeguarding their children's online safety. However, it is not clear whether these apps are always beneficial or effective in what they aim to do; for instance, the overuse of restriction and surveillance has been found to undermine parent-child relationship and children's sense of autonomy. In this work, we investigate this gap, asking specifically: how might children's and parents' perceptions be related to how parental control features were designed? To investigate this question, we conducted an analysis of 58 top Android parental control apps designed for the purpose of promoting children's online safety, finding three major axes of variation in how key restriction and monitoring features were realised: granularity, feedback/transparency, and parent-child communications support. To relate these axes to perceived benefits and problems, we then analysed 3264 app reviews to identify references to aspects of the each of the axes above, to understand children's and parents' views of how such dimensions related to their experiences with these apps. Our findings led towards 1) an understanding of how parental control apps realise their functionalities differently along three axes of variation, 2) an analysis of exactly the ways that such variation influences children's and parents' perceptions, respectively of the usefulness or effectiveness of these apps, and finally 3) an identification of design recommendations and opportunities for future apps by contextualising our findings within existing digital parenting theories.


Mobile Apps for Children's Health and Wellbeing: Design Features and Future Opportunities

Mobile health apps hold great potential for promoting children's health ...

On the conformance of Android applications with children's data protection regulations and safeguarding guidelines

With the rapid development of online technologies and the widespread usa...

"Money makes the world go around”: Identifying Barriers to Better Privacy in Children's Apps From Developers' Perspectives

The industry for children's apps is thriving at the cost of children's p...

From Parental Control to Joint Family Oversight: Can Parents and Teens Manage Mobile Online Safety and Privacy as Equals?

Our research aims to highlight and alleviate the complex tensions around...

SkillBot: Identifying Risky Content for Children in Alexa Skills

Many households include children who use voice personal assistants (VPA)...

Self-Control in Cyberspace: Applying Dual Systems Theory to a Review of Digital Self-Control Tools

Many people struggle to control their use of digital devices. However, o...

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset