This paper examines the relationships between trust, privacy, children, and parents in the context of technologically mediated interactions. I defend a trust-based conception of children’s privacy from their parents and apply it to issues within digital parenting.
With digital parenting, tensions such as parental control and child self-regulation (Wisniewski, et al. 2017) come to the fore. Parents are presented with a panoply of apps to monitor their child’s device use (Livingstone and Byrne 2018; Willson 2018). While it is widely accepted that digital parenting implicates trust in the parent-child relationship, the connections between trust, privacy, children, and parents remain under-explored. Scholars moot the idea that trust in the parent-child relationship requires privacy, but do not examine the exact boundaries of what a trust-based conception of privacy requires (e.g., Rooney 2010; Shmueli & Blecher-Prigat 2011; Mathiesen 2013; Taylor & Rooney 2016; Siibak 2019).
I fill this gap by looking to the literature on philosophy of trust (e.g., Horsburgh 1960; Baier 1986; Mullin 2005; Jones 2012; Baier 1986). I argue that a trust-based conception of privacy has two privacy rules, which are each informed by separate aspects of trust. I argue that the relationship between the parent’s vulnerability and the child’s privacy grounds “content rules”. Content rules govern the actual information that the parent can obtain that are related to their vulnerability to risk while still exhibiting trust. I then argue that the relationship between the parent’s motivational set and the child’s privacy ground “acquisitive rules”. Acquisitive rules govern the ways in which information can be acquired.
I conclude by looking at how trust-focused privacy should influence the design of parental monitoring applications and parental decision-making.