Thursday 9 April 2019  – 1pm to 3pm
LG11, David Hume Tower,  Edinburgh  EH8 9JX

Sonia Livingstone
London School of Economics and Political Science

Parents have to imagine several decades into the future, for their children will grow up in a world not yet known, to do jobs not yet invented. How do they think about this, and plan for this, in the present? For the “Parenting for a Digital Future” project I and my colleagues have conducted in-depth research with some 70 families. We find that, through their construction of parenting philosophies which vest effort and values in ordinary tasks, enacting an everyday calculus of what is worth doing and what is problematic, parents are finding ways to navigate the uncertain path between the present and the future. Our fieldwork also reveals a considerable diversity in parenting practices and imaginaries, rendering alternative lifestyles ‘ordinary’ while the supposedly typical proves relatively elusive, perhaps itself part of the imaginary of parenting. The project is framed within theories of late modernity and the risk society as a way of critically examining how, on the one hand, parents are increasingly burdened yet isolated, tasked with moral responsibility not only for their child but for the future of society as it rests upon today’s children, and, on the other hand, how the digital is positioned – by governments and commerce as well as by parents, teachers and children themselves – as a vital (though not sole) route to a better future.

Sonia Livingstone DPhil (Oxon), FBA, FBPS, FAcSS, FRSA, OBE is a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She researches media audiences, especially children’s and young people’s risks and opportunities, media literacy, and rights in the digital environment, and is author of 20 books including “The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age.”.

She currently directs the projects “Children’s Data and Privacy Online,” “Parenting for a Digital Future” and “Global Kids Online” (with UNICEF). Since founding the33 country EU Kids Online research network, Sonia has advised the UK government, European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe, OECD and UNICEF, among others, on children’s internet risks, safety, media literacy and rights in digital environments. She blogs at See

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