The Listening Project: giving parents their say on tech
At the end of 2022, Michelle Donelan, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, sent an open letter to parents. In this, she explained some core components of the proposed Online Safety Bill, and the outcomes this piece of legislation hopes to achieve for children and families.
Parent Zone believes it’s important to keep parents informed about legislation that affects families. But it’s equally important to listen to them too – from their concerns and worries, intuitions, to their more optimistic beliefs. And with just three passing mentions of parents in over 230 pages of the latest version of the bill, we take this to be quite an omission.
Parents aren’t just there to provide care. They’re also advocates for children. They provide systems of support – both financial and emotional. They are involved in their education from the start. They also, it goes without saying, know their children better than anyone else.
To get more of a handle on what (and how) parents think of the online world and regulation, Parent Zone, in partnership with Meta, undertook a piece of research: the Your Digital Family Listening Project.
A new research approach
The motivation behind this project was to better understand where parents stand on core digital issues facing children and families, including age-verification, the pros and cons of online anonymity, and the interplay between media literacy and misinformation.
This research was designed to be simple, accessible, and to help parents respond when it worked for them. It included three different survey formats:
- a Full Survey sent out as a direct link.
- a ‘Waiting Room’ Survey (abridged to three questions for quick submission) accessed by QR code.
- live quiz events with time scheduled to complete the survey.
The results are compiled from all three surveys, each made available in late 2022 through 52 UK-based organisations.
Strong beliefs, but a need for support
The research shows very strong opinions and high levels of agreement when it comes to certain facets of online life. In discussing age restrictions, 70% of parents believe they are the ones who should decide what is appropriate. Over 90% also support age-limits for online platforms.
Over 80% of parents say they don’t take steps to improve their children’s media literacy. But the parenting actions we see taking place suggest many parents want more media literacy support, as well as support for the digital environment they are raising their children in.
To read the full guide, including our conclusions and proposed action plan for tech companies and policy makers, visit Parent Zone’s research page.
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