“Digiduck’s screen went ping and he saw a new message from a friend”. Younger children’s perceptions of online safety: Findings from a pilot study examining the value of storytelling as a research method

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Research aimed at empowering children’s digital engagement often omits the voice of the child, despite the paradigm shift within early childhood research where ever younger children are viewed as competent research participants (Rayna & Laevers, 2011).This paper aims, therefore, to add to knowledge about younger children’s understanding of digital technologies, through consideration of their agency and how their voices can help to raise awareness of issues affecting them in their fast changing worlds. The paper discusses findings from a pilot study that used two creative and innovative research methods and tested their potential for providing children between the ages of four and five with more agency and autonomy in a larger research project. The study was part of work undertaken for a PhD and was based in a UK primary school. The first research method to be discussed will be storytelling sessions using age appropriate books regarding online safety. These sessions facilitated examination of younger children’s perceptions of online safety, risk, trust and danger. The paper will then go on to consider the second research method, role play based around the storytelling sessions, and how this enabled the children to become active research participants by giving them multiple opportunities to voice their experiences and knowledge of the digital world. The paper concludes by acknowledging the differing research viewpoints around children and digital
technologies and also considering issues of reliability and validity in research involving younger children (Chaudron, 2015). It thus seeks to illustrate how creative methodologies can encourage and identify children’s voices and, in the context of this research, provide insights into children’s understanding of online safety and how these can be used to support younger children’s safe engagement with digital technologies.
Period7 May 2018
Event titleChildhood and Materiality: VIII Conference on Childhood Studies
Event typeConference
Conference number8
LocationJyväskylä, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational