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Parenting for a Digital Future

How Hopes and Fears about Technology Shape Children's Lives

Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross

Publication Date - 01 July 2020

ISBN: 9780190874698

274 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

Drawing on qualitative and quantitative research in the UK, this book offers conclusions about parenting in the digital age and insights relevant to parents, policymakers, educators, and researchers everywhere.


In the decades it takes to bring up a child, parents face challenges that are both helped and hindered by the fact that they are living through a period of unprecedented digital innovation. In Parenting for a Digital Future, Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross draw on extensive and diverse qualitative and quantitative research with a range of parents in the UK to reveal how digital technologies characterize parenting in late modernity, as parents determine how to forge new territory with little precedent or support. They chart how parents often enact authority and values through digital technologies since "screen time," games, and social media have become both ways of being together and of setting boundaries. Parenting for a Digital Future moves beyond the panicky headlines to offer a deeply researched exploration of what it means to parent in a period of significant social and technological change.


  • Critiques popular screen time advice and offers an alternative vision of digital families
  • Links parenting studies to social influence of class, which is often under-discussed in relationship to the impact of technology
  • Based on robust new qualitative and quantitative research, rather than one method alone

About the Author(s)

Sonia Livingstone is a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has published 20 books, including The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age.

Alicia Blum-Ross is a researcher, educator, and advocate who has worked in academia, industry, and civil society to study and create opportunities for children, youth, and families to more safely connect, create, and learn online.


"IParenting for a Digital Future offers a compassionate deep dive into the changing and increasingly challenging role confronting adult caregivers as they negotiate their way forward with the aim of supporting children's digital futures ... Sonia Livingstone and Alicia Blum-Ross forensically investigate what it is to be a parent trying to do the best possible job of raising children in a digital context. They bring the book to life with descriptive anecdotes and verbatim quotes that transport the reader into the refugee bedsit and the park-adjoining mansion. This book meets and introduces parents and children as the complex people they are, with hopes, fears and ambitions complicated by social, emotional, educational and financial pressures." -- Lelia Green, Journal of Children and Media

"The authors have assembled a well-written, systematic appraisal of parental responses to the digital challenges of the present; their book is no less relevant to American audiences than it would be for those from any postindustrial society ... Parents puzzled by how to respond to the digital technological future with their children will find this book enlightening." -- W. Feigelman, CHOICE

"It is education professionals who are more likely to know more than average about this topic. We would definitely like to see the book in their hands, but also in the hands of other trusted professionals parents go to for advice (paediatricians, social workers, NGO workers). It is an essential read for all advocates of child rights who want to have an impact on legislation and methodology tackling all implications of digital technology and digital realities. Bearing in mind that parents are the most impactful educators of their children, this book is a must-read for those who wish to empower the primary educators for a bright future of our children - that nearly certainly will be digital." -- Parents International

"In this rare parents-eye view over the digital landscape, Livingstone and Blum-Ross cut through polarized debates and one-size-fits all solutions. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of how digital technology intersects in unexpected and varied ways with the everyday lives of diverse families." -- Mimi Ito, Director of the Connected Learning Lab, University of California, Irvine

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1 - Expectations
    Chapter 2 - Family life in the digital age
    Chapter 3 - Social inequality
    Chapter 4 - Geek identities in the digital family
    Chapter 5 - (Dis)abilities
    Chapter 6 - Parents and digital learning
    Chapter 7 - Imagining the future
    Appendix - Research methods

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