‘When I try to go onto MLG Peppa Pig and you said I’m not allowed’: a qualitative sociological analysis of how the use of family surveillance products shape and are shaped by parenting and childhood in the UK

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In the digital age, parents are grappling with the demands of intensive motherhood and involved fatherhood, they are also trying to find ways to manage their children’s emergence into the wider world. Monitoring children is by no means a new practice, but it is increasingly becoming technologised through the use of family surveillance products. These products, whereby parents can monitor their children’s geolocation, their spending, their connected device usage, as well as their ‘screen time’, promise much in the way of allaying risks.

The objective of this thesis is to understand the emerging practice of intimate surveillance by examining how parents and children engage with family surveillance products, what their thoughts and feelings are, and how this is shaping both contemporary parenting and contemporary childhood. With primary data gathered through semi-structured interviews with parents and children from sixteen different families, and secondary data consisting of 1026 media clippings and 2162 app store reviews, I have found that parents use these apps in an attempt to shape and direct childhood into something they deem to be appropriate while trying to keep existential risks at bay, and that children find the use of these apps acceptable if it enables an interest of theirs; but if they find the app too restrictive, children can and will become disaffected.

This thesis contributes to academic research by extending technoculture into the sociologies of parenting and childhood and furthering the development of intimate surveillance as a family practice.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Barn, Ravinder, Supervisor
  • Harman, Vicki, Supervisor
  • Cappellini, Benedetta , Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Oct 2022
Publication statusUnpublished - 2022


  • surveillance
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • technoculture
  • intensive motherhood
  • involved fatherhood
  • monitoring
  • parenting
  • childhood

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