Gendered mediation of children’s internet use: A keyhole for looking into changing socialization practices

Special issue: Mediation of Children´s ICT Usage

This study focuses on parental mediation of children’s internet use in the context of broader gendered socialization patterns. Analyses were carried out in three steps using quantitative and qualitative methods. Firstly, based on EU Kids Online survey data, gendered patterns in parental mediation across European countries were explored. Secondly, detailed analysis of mediation practices in Estonia, one country in the EU Kids Online survey, was carried out. As the last step, data from two focus group interviews were used for in-depth analysis of Estonian mothers’ everyday practices of mediating their children’s internet use. Quantitative analysis revealed significant correlations between the number of gender differences in parental mediation, and country-level variables of internet penetration and gender equality. In Estonia, as a country with low gender equality, but high internet use, mediation strategies do not depend purely on children’s gender, but on a more complex interrelation of gender and children’s and parents’ socio-demographic characteristics and parent-child interactions. This finding was supported and explained by qualitative analysis, showing that Estonian mothers’ methods for mediating boys’ and girls’ internet use differ in several aspects, reflecting the broader context of changing socialization practices, gender norms, and the generation gap in using digital technologies.

Parental mediation; socialization; gender ideologies; cultural values
Author biographies

Kairi Talves

Author photo Kairi Talves is currently working on her PhD thesis in Sociology at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Her main fields of research are related to gender studies, more specifically to gendered patterns of parental behaviour and their impact on socialization and intergenerational relations. She has participated in several international research projects, focusing on gender inequalities, and she has published a number of research papers in academic journals and chapters in edited volumes.

Veronika Kalmus

Kalmus VeronikaVeronika Kalmus is a Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her research focuses on socialization, inter-generational relationships, media use and cultural values. She leads several research projects, including “Generations and inter-generational relations in the emerging information society,” and participates in the project EU Kids Online. She has published extensively in international journals and collections, including Childhood, Children & Society, Discourse & Society, and Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

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