Accessing Children’s Digital Practices at Home through Visual Methods: Innovations and Challenges

Researching Children and Youth: Methodological Issues, Strategies, and Innovations

ISBN: 978-1-78714-099-8, eISBN: 978-1-78714-098-1

ISSN: 1537-4661

Publication date: 8 March 2017

Abstract

Inspired by the debates on participatory methods and drawing from research on “digital childhoods” in Portugal, this chapter aims to address the methodological innovations and challenges in collecting visual and digital data with children at their homes. As one of the stages of a research project on internet use, children were asked to take photos of their favorite objects at home and to collect screenshots of their most used webpages, followed by a conversation with the researcher. The use of photography allowed children greater expression and autonomy and gave researchers access to the children’s own perspectives on their home environment. It also provided unique information about the arrangement of digital objects at home and their different appropriations by girls and boys. Screenshots showed creative uses of the internet by children and gender differences. Ethical concerns were raised, due to the specific nature of working with children and with visual material (anonymization and dissemination). Entering the domestic setting provided a privileged access to children’s private sphere and to the in situ observation of their use of technology. However, the home is not a neutral place for a researcher and crossing the border into the private domain involves risks. These findings, illustrated by empirical examples from the research field, stress the importance of reflecting on and discussing the potentials, limitations, and ethical considerations of different methodologies, as well as their suitability to specific research objects, subjects, and contexts.

Keywords

Citation

de Almeida, A., Carvalho, D. and Delicado, A. (2017), "Accessing Children’s Digital Practices at Home through Visual Methods: Innovations and Challenges", Researching Children and Youth: Methodological Issues, Strategies, and Innovations (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 22), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 349-374. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1537-466120180000022016

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited

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