Marsh.Abigail.Thesis.pdf (3.19 MB)

An Examination of Parenting Strategies for Children's Online Safety

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posted on 01.08.2018, 00:00 by Abigail Marsh
Teenagers are using the internet for a variety of social and identity-based activities, but in doing so, they are exposed to risky situations. The work of ensuring teens' online safety largely falls to parents, many of whom are unprepared to understand the realities and norms of teens' online activity. In this thesis, we investigate how parents and teens perceive online risks, the eff ects of using current tools designed to keep teens safe online, and fi nally, the usability of currently
available online safety tools. We have conducted interviews with parents and teens to understand how they perceive digital privacy within their families, and in what situations teens' privacy should be preserved or denied. We investigated a specfii c case of online safety, peer-based online conflictamong teenagers, also called cyberbullying. We studied whether and how parents and teens defi ne
cyberbullying and a related concept, \drama," di fferently. We explore the pressures parents face to employ privacy-invasive and restrictive parenting practices, and their confusion about teens' digital communities that make some parents unsure about communication and education-based
interventions. We identi fied a set of seven parenting strategies through interviews with online safety
professionals. We explored these strategies through a longitudinal study of parenting software and behavior contracts in comparison to a control condition. Speci fically, we measured the impact of one month of using these tools on participants' perception of online risks and the usability challenges of these tools. Overall, this thesis highlights the importance of developing usable online safety tools built for both parents and children as primary users.




Degree Type



Institute for Software Research

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Lorrie Faith Cranor