Parental control applications are designed to help parents monitor their teens and protect them from online risks. Generally, parents are considered the primary stakeholders for these apps; therefore, the apps often emphasize increased parental control through restriction and monitoring. By taking a developmental perspective and a Value Sensitive Design approach, we explore the possibility of designing more youth-centric online safety features. We asked 39 undergraduate students in the United States to create design charrettes of parental control apps that would better represent teens as stakeholders. As emerging adults, students discussed the value tensions between teens and parents and designed features to reduce and balance these tensions. While they emphasized safety, the students also designed to improve parent-teen communication, teen autonomy and privacy, and parental support. Our research contributes to the adolescent online safety literature by presenting design ideas from emerging adults that depart from the traditional paradigm of parental control. We also make a pedagogical contribution by leveraging design charrettes as a classroom tool for engaging college students in the design of youth-centered apps. We discuss why features that support parent-teen cooperation, teen privacy, and autonomy may be more developmentally appropriate for adolescents than existing parental control app designs.
Circle of Trust: A New Approach to Mobile Online Safety for Families
Traditional parental control applications designed to protect children and teens from online risks do so through parental restrictions and privacy-invasive monitoring. We propose a new approach to adolescent online safety that aims to strike a balance between a teen’s privacy and their online safety through active communication and fostering trust between parents and children. We designed and developed an Android “app” called Circle of Trust and conducted a mixed methods user study of 17 parent-child pairs to understand their perceptions about the app. Using a within-subjects experimental design, we found that parents and children significantly preferred our new app design over existing parental control apps in terms of perceived usefulness, ease of use, and behavioral intent to use. By applying a lens of Value Sensitive Design to our interview data, we uncovered that parents and children who valued privacy, trust, freedom, and balance of power preferred our app over traditional apps. However, those who valued transparency and control preferred the status quo. Overall, we found that our app was better suited for teens than for younger children.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020)
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 1 to 14
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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