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“Digital Parenting” Talk with Andra Siiback

Date: Fri. March 20th, 2020, 1:00 pm-2:00 pm
Location: Senior Classroom, TVUC
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Parents today are increasingly disciplined by a specific plugged-in parenting routine, leading them into the era of “transcendent parenting” (Lim, 2018). Although caring for children’s well-being and safety has always been one of the cornerstones of parenting, in contrast to the previous decades, the current “parental gaze has become technologized” (Howell 2010: 1). Various digital parenting tools –from pregnancy apps and baby monitors to parental controls and tracking devices –have been brought to the market in the hopes of responding to the concerns and anxieties of the parents.

Building on empirical research, this lecture will illustrate how the data religion cultivated by the tech industry, popular press, marketing discourses and general societal expectations of a “responsible parent” have normalized the constant techno-gaze of parents, feeding into the “data-veillance” of children. Findings from studies on the usage of digital parenting tools, such as tracking devices –and practices such as “sharenting” –illustrate how issues related to the digital rights and privacy of the child are almost entirely discarded. Overprotective and technologically moderated parenting actually leads us to both the commodification and the data-fication of childhood.

Speaker Bio: Andra Siibak, is a Professor of Media Studies and program director of the Media and Communication doctoral program at the Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her main field of research has to do with the opportunities and risks surrounding internet use, datafication of childhood, intergenerational relations on new media, tech-saturated workplace, privacy and new media audiences. In her most recent projects she is studying parental dataveillance of children; and datafication of employment (e.g. microchipped employees). Andra has been a member of various international research projects and networks (e.g. EU Kids Online, COST Action Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies, DigiLitEY), acted as expert consultant on Estonia for different projects initiated by the European Parliament, European Commission, European Council and OECD.

Partners: Cleveland Humanities Festival, CWRU Department of English

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