Parental approaches to protecting children from online harm: Trust, Protectionism or Dialogue?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The European Commission and the UK Government, committed to protecting children from online harms, have proposed new legislation which will impose additional duties upon online platforms. Whilst parents believe such platforms have a role to play in making the internet safer, they nonetheless believe they have primary responsibility for protecting children online. This chapter uses family privacy theory together with original empirical research to explore the parental role in protecting children from online harms. Family privacy, is a long-established doctrine, which is conventionally understood to entail state non-intervention in family life and non-interference in parental decision-making (Fineman, 1999; Woodhouse 1999). Family privacy ideology views children as inexperienced, immature, and lacking judgment considering parents to have the knowledge and experience needed to educate, protect and make decisions in their children’s best interests (Fineman, 1999). This chapter confirms, however, that many parents lack the knowledge to support children’s safe online engagement. It identifies that parents may use laissez-faire, educative or protective strategies to manage children’s online interactions, outlining how both laissez-faire and protective approaches may negatively impact upon children’s rights and wellbeing. This chapter suggests more state intervention and support is needed to ensure parents understand the benefits and risks of digital technologies and have the knowledge and skills needed to engage in supportive dialogue with children and promote children’s safe online engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren, Young People and Online Harms
Subtitle of host publicationConceptualisations, Experiences and Responses
EditorsEmily Setty, Faith Gordon, Emma Nottingham
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783031460531
ISBN (Print)9783031460524
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2024

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