From digital parent to liberated parent? Exploring experiences of digitally mediated parenthood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Parenting apps for smartphones and other mobile devices are an increasingly popular source of information and advice for new parents. A growing body of research has focused on the ways parenting apps provide support and reassurance for parents learning to care for a new baby. At the same time the use of these apps is raising concerns around issues of data security, surveillance and privacy.

This chapter contributes to these debates by focusing on parents who have made an active decision to reject these kinds of digital mediations. Drawing on qualitative data from interviews with ten sets of parents, the analysis explores their decisions to stop using parenting apps. While the monitoring and measurement of infant milestones has long been part of parenthood, these parents found the use of apps shaped their parenting practices in ways that were problematic and undesirable. The chapter discusses the conflict that the parents faced in their love/hate relationship with the apps they used; feeling that they have a sense of structure and security, but also exacerbating feelings of pressure, comparison and guilt.

In using digital objects and spaces to help navigate parenting, apps do not simply mediate but can actively shape the experience of parenting. Through the datafication of the infant body and in its representation in digital forms, apps create a digital double, a collection of data points, which frame the infant and parent in ways that can feel precarious.
The paper argues that in using digital objects and spaces to help navigate parenting, apps do not simply mediate but can actively shape the experience of parenting in ways that can feel precarious for some parents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigitising Early Childhood
EditorsLelia Green, Donell Holloway, Kylie Stevenson, Kelly Jaunzems
PublisherCambridge Scholars Press
Chapter5
Pages354-365
ISBN (Print)9781527518223
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • digital parenting
  • parenting/pregnancy apps
  • self-surveillance
  • monitoring
  • authenticity

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