Children, Risks, and the Mobile Internet

Children, Risks, and the Mobile Internet

Giovanna Mascheroni (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy) and Leslie Haddon (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch111
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This article examines young people's use of smartphones, with a particular focus on opportunities and risks related to the mobile internet. Drawing on a review of mobile phones literature and internet studies, the article examines the emergence of a new research agenda in the study of children and mobile communication and outlines relevant empirical evidence of changes associated with smartphones.
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Overview: Research On Youth And Mobile Communication

Early research on mobile communication focused on young people as pioneers in the domestication of mobile phones and the creation of mobile cultures (Caron & Caronia, 2007; Ling, 2004; Goggin, 2006, 2013; Green & Haddon, 2009). Not only did teenagers and children adopt mobile phones extensively; they also experimented with new communicative practices, such as texting and beeping, and created specific sub-cultures expressed in and through mobile media.

One key framework in research on children and mobile communication is the ‘emancipation’ approach (Ling, 2004). This located mobile phones within the process of social emancipation by which teenagers and children develop autonomy from their family through socialisation with peers. This field has been articulated in two lines of research, the first examining the meanings and use of mobile phones within the parent-child relationship and the second investigating how mobile communication fitted into relationships with peers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sexting: Relates to the exchange of sexually explicit content online or via mobile phones and smartphones. It has been defined as the “exchange of sexual messages or images” ( Livingstone et al., 2011 ) and “the creating, sharing and forwarding of sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images” ( Lenhart, 2009 ). It may overlap with cyberbullying, e.g. when someone shares sexually explicit photos of their ex-girlfriend (more commonly) once they break up.

EU Kids Online: A multinational research network. It seeks to enhance knowledge of European children’s online opportunities, risks and safety. It uses multiple methods to map children’s experience of the internet. It sustains an active dialogue with national and European policy stakeholders. It has been funded by the EC’s Safer Internet Programme (subsequently renamed the Better Internet for Kids Programme).

Connected Presence: Refers to the particular sense provided by mobile communication that the tie with other in the intimate sphere can be activated anytime, anywhere. This sense of proximity is often maintained through frequent, short and continuous communication (Licoppe, 2004 AU58: The in-text citation "Licoppe, 2004" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Net Children Go Mobile: A research project involving 9 European countries and co-funded by the EC’s Safer Internet Programme (subsequently renamed the Better Internet for Kids Programme) to investigate the consequences of the changing conditions of internet access and use among European children. It uses multiple methods to map children’s and adults’ experiences of the mobile Internet.

Electronic or Digital Leash: This expression is used to describe the meaning of mobile phones for parents, as a tool for extending parental control outside the domestic environment and for keeping track of children’s movements ( Caron & Caronia, 2007 ; Ling, 2004 AU59: The citation "Ling, 2004" matches multiple references. Please add letters (e.g. "Smith 2000a"), or additional authors to the citation, to uniquely match references and citations. ).

Cyberbullying: Relates to aggressive and mean behaviour directed to harm others, which is conducted through ICTs such as social network sites, mobile phones etc. Compared to face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying can be anonymous, is more persistent - due to the persistence and replicability of digital communication - and involves wider audiences, including “invisible audiences”.

Safety Link: The anywhere, anytime connectivity provided by the mobile phone facilitated its role as a “safety link” ( Ling, 2012 AU60: The citation "Ling, 2012" matches multiple references. Please add letters (e.g. "Smith 2000a"), or additional authors to the citation, to uniquely match references and citations. ), especially in the parent-child relationship. The expression refers to the sense of personal safety and protection that arises from being able to dispense parental care at a distance - from the parents’ side - and to reach parents in case of problems - from children’s side.

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