Parental surveillance and parenting styles: Toward a model of familial surveillance climates

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5 Scopus citations


This study examines parental surveillance of preadolescents based on location-tracking applications installed on their smartphones. Applying reflexive thematic analysis to 24 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with mothers of middle-school children, the study asks how mothers with different parenting styles describe their surveillance ideologies and practices, and what are the sociocultural imageries that motivate their use of location-tracking applications. The findings offer six criteria for evaluating different familial surveillance climates, organizing them in a three-tier model that demonstrates the multidimensionality of digital parental surveillance. Consequently, the study challenges the presumed link between parental surveillance and strict parenting styles (e.g., authoritarian, helicopter). Acknowledging the increasing normalization of digital parental surveillance, the study advances a balanced and pragmatic view of this trend while illuminating participatory methods of implementing what is often considered a suppressive practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-56
Number of pages19
JournalMobile Media and Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Diana Baumrind
  • GPS
  • location-tracking
  • parental surveillance
  • parenting styles
  • thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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