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Title: Developing freedom : behavioural and social freedoms for children via mobile phones and internet devices
Author: Moyse, Karen Ina
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 2738
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2016
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Middle years children (7-12 years) engaging with mobile phones has become a very normal part of their behaviour in recent years. It is an important issue for psychologists to explore in relation to learning about children’s development and behaviour currently. The internet is part of the mobile phone, so one cannot be explored without looking at the other. Much of the evidence that exists has explored children’s use of the internet, but there is less evidence available about children using mobile phones. Only recently has evidence started to emerge. Questions were devised for this research project asking children (7 – 12 years) about the meaning of mobile phones / internet devices, as well as investigating children’s use of these devices on the parenting role. A qualitative research approach was taken in order to investigate children's views and parents' views, so that in-depth knowledge could be gained. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) theory on social development was incorporated as the underpinning theory for this research, to assist in understanding children’s social development in different social settings. Critical realism (Maxwell, 2012) was selected as the epistemological approach as it allowed participants' realities to be considered closely alongside established knowledge. As children's use of the mobile phone is a new behaviour for them, established knowledge and views from the field of young people’s use of mobile phones was included but separately; allowing children's realities to be considered and compared within a wider social context. A triangulated research design was thus adopted; comparing the views of these different groups of participants (children, parents and young people). Focus group interviews were undertaken with all participants, along with individual interviews for children. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2013) was applied to analyze all participants' views. Three main themes emerged: 1. Appropriate communications, where children's views about communicating appropriately on their devices were revealed; 2. Freedom, highlighting freedom as an emerging concept for children, where mobile phones particularly played an important role in creating opportunities for children to develop freedom both behaviourally and socially; 3. Time, the final theme shows how parents were thinking about children's use of these devices across time, as a way of understanding their social development. It was revealed that the mobile phone was used as a resource within the parenting role, helping parents to manage children’s behaviour. These themes together form a framework for exploring children’s use of mobile / internet devices. The research also explored some of the social processes underlying interactions between children and parents around children’s devices. It included the unique nature of this cohort of children as early users of mobile phones, as well as parents’ concerns about their children’s use of them. In conclusion this research project, by exploring children's realities alongside those of young people and parents, has helped to develop an understanding about children’s behaviour in a contemporary context through their use of mobile / internet devices, for one group of children. It has also demonstrated how freedom can emerge for children within different social settings (Bronfenbrenner’s settings, 1979). Further research will need to be undertaken with middle years children to see if similar findings are revealed.
Supervisor: Gross, Harriet ; Bretherton, Roger Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: C800 Psychology