I started to become incredibly interested in questions about children’s digital traces when, two and a half years ago, I had my daughter. During the first year of my daughter’s life, I was writing the book Activism on the Web: Everyday Struggles against Digital Capitalism, and I was exploring key questions about online privacy, digital surveillance and big data.
As you can imagine, writing a book, whilst being on maternity leave entails a lot of juggling. Between a feed, a nap, and the writing up of a chapter, I was introduced to the extraordinary world of new parents.
We would meet regularly and enjoy different parent/child activities; we would organise picnics and eat a lot of cake. Meeting up with other new parents (and guys if you are reading this, thank you!) was not only life saving because I could share the ups and downs of early motherhood, but it was also life changing because it has enabled me to see things from a different perspective.
As days went by, and my maternity leave was coming to an end (as well as my book), I started to realise how much personal information of children is produced from the moment in which they are conceived. Not only my fellow peers (and myself included) were recording important medical data on mobile apps, but we were extensively sharing photos of our children online through public and private social media platforms.
As I was writing about online privacy, surveillance and data cultures in the context of activism, I realised that we have very little understanding of what is going on within family life.
How are children’s digital traces produced? How do parents negotiate with online privacy, data mining or digital profiling? What impact might the digital traces that we produce today have on the future of our children?
It is to address these questions that I designed the Child | Data | Citizen Project. In this website I want to share not only my key findings with you, but I also want to create a space full of resources and ideas that can enable you to make an informed decision about how to protect your children’s privacy online.