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 (FSPs). 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. This paper seeks to propose that FSPs are the means through which intimate surveillance (Leaver 2015, 2017) is enacted in everyday life.
This paper, comprised of data from the author’s PhD thesis, provides an original contribution to the field by taking into account the perspectives of both parents and children in the same work. Diverse members of sixteen different families were invited to participate in semi-structured interviews, with the resulting data analysed through the precepts of grounded theory. In addition to this, 1026 media clips and 2162 app store reviews for FSPs used by families were also gathered and analysed, in order to situate families’ reasons for using these products in a wider social context. Insights into surveillance, gender, risk, consumption, contemporary parenting, and contemporary childhood will be offered.