Watson, Lindsey Jane (2015) Attitudes and Emotions to Internet Safety: Trust and Digital Literacy in Mothers of Reception Aged Children. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Although there is a vast amount of literature available on child internet safety, most of this concentrates on older children over the age of eight (Holloway, Green & Livingstone, 2013). Research that has focused on younger (under seven) children often omits to include the parents’ perspectives, which are pivotal to child internet safety management within the home (Livingstone, Haddon, Gorzig & Olfasson, 2011). This study focuses on this gap by exploring the views of parents of children under seven in relation to internet safety management. It provides insight into factors that affect how parents manage access to digital technologies within the home. In particular, the factors considered are, parents’ attitudes and emotions to the internet, their level of digital literacy, and how trust affects parents’ attitudes and emotions towards child internet safety. The research is based on a small scale study of parents’ experiences and perceptions. Data was collected from six parents of younger children using in depth semi structured interviews and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The study argues that the notion of trust is central to understanding younger children’s internet safety. Parental levels of trust in digital systems were found to play an important role in how child internet safety was managed within the home. Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) Ecological Systems Theory was used to interpret the complex relationships that surround family digital activities. The findings suggest that parental levels of digital literacy were significant in forming parents’ opinions and decisions, about how they managed internet safety. In addition, findings revealed trust was subjective and complex and often elicited a need for parents to feel in control. This study proposes a model to understand how trust, digital literacy and child internet safety strategies used by parents might be understood, which has been called the Digital Trust Window.

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