'I had no credit to ring you back': Children’s strategies of negotiation and resistance to parental surveillance via mobile phones

Carol Margaret Barron


The monitoring of children in time and space, from a distance via the mobile phones, is a phenomenon never experienced in previous generations. Indeed, as frequently recited, the increased protection of children by monitoring them is a central characteristic of modern childhood (Rasmussen, 2003; Qvortrup, 1993) and the effects of this are not yet know. Equally our understanding of how children in middle childhood (8 – 12 years) negotiate and or resist this monitoring is unclear. This paper seeks to add to the emerging body of knowledge on the strategies employed by children in middle childhood to negotiate and resist the monitoring and surveillance of their physical selves in time and space using mobile phones. I suggest that the mobile phone can be transformed by children into a highly efficient device to enable them to both negotiate and resist surveillance thus increasing their autonomy and independent mobility. Children are not passive recipients of parental surveillance and power, rather they are increasingly playing an active role in negotiation with parents and actively resist monitoring of their everyday lives to both make meaning anew and produce culture.


Middle childhood, Mobile phones, Strategies of resistance play spaces

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