Parents and Children’s E-Safety Education During the Pandemic

Theoretical Framework

The phenomenon of learning and knowledge is frequently described through the lens of one’s connection between the knowledge acquired and knowledge already existing within one’s cognition. The provisions of such a concept are described in the Constructivist theory, which outlines a hypothesis that the knowledge, instead of being directly provided to learners in a conventional didactic model, should be presented in the form of new information they could link to pre-existing beliefs and facts (Clark, 2018). As a result, when it comes to children’s education from a Constructivist perspective, parents are to actively engage with the children’s activities online to make sense of the Internet knowledge they already obtain. A prominent Constructivism scholar, Jean Piaget, outlines some of the primary principles of this theory, including the relevance of motivation, the personal aspect of receiving any information, and the power of context (Cohen & Waite-Stupiansky, 2017). I plan to use this theory in the present research, as I believe that the Constructivist theory can assist the understanding of how parents engage with their children in order to understand their unique experience of online education and constant Internet access and educate them based on the situation they see and not some established universal guidelines.


The Utilization of Photo Elicitation

According to Prosser and Loxley (2008), the use of visual materials when conducting research may become an asset in terms of provoking and eliciting additional information when collecting qualitative data from participants. In order to address the research question presented, I will utilize the research-found visual element, as this tool is recognized as essential in terms of data collection and evoking the respondent’s storytelling and analysis (Wall et al., 2013). The photos elicited for the research are the pictures used in Radesky’s (2021) CNN analysis of children’s screen time average during the pandemic. The researcher-generated photos, in this case, will be presented to the participant in order to provoke an emotive response. According to the latest research, the context of COVID-19 has modified the patterns of the parent-child relationships drastically, with families spending more time together and observing each other’s behavior (Francisco et al., 2020). For this reason, it would be reasonable to assume that when seeing photos of kids displaying interaction with gadgets and online services, the parent will respond to the pictures by subconsciously comparing their children to the ones in the pictures.

Four pictures from the source were chosen because they were previously used to visualize the content similar to the subject of the study. I thought they would prove useful when facilitating the interviewee’s response. The photos were chosen by the principle of content appropriateness, as both electronic devices and children had to be in them. With the help of using such keywords as “children,” “Internet safety,” and “technology,” the CNN article in question was found. The photos elicited for the interview, although related to the discussion, are rather abstract. According to Prosser and Loxley (2008), abstraction in images evokes reflection and critical analysis of the visual material, whereas the present research also seeks parents’ reflection on the matter of Internet safety education and the ways they present this knowledge to children. Thus, the visual samples will be found and not originally generated by the researcher because the photos in question were already associated with the research question (Pauwels, 2020). Indeed, one of the limitations of photo-elicitation concerns the fact that it would be considerably harder to secure a multisensory experience compared to video tools, but it will still be enough to evoke parents’ reflection on the topic (Pink, 2020). The photos, for their part, will serve as a contributor to a semi-structured interview as a major means of data collection.

The Structuring of the Interview

The researcher-found photos will be used in a semi-structured interview that will be conducted via Zoom. Considering the modern context of the pandemic and limitations on face-to-face interaction, the use of Zoom will be the most beneficial way to conduct an interview, given that the participant has a stable Internet connection (Archibald et al., 2019). The interview will last approximately 30 minutes, yet some exceptions could be made when faced with connection issues or any other disturbances.

During the interview, I will ask the participant sixteen questions created in advance (Appendix A). During some questions, I will draw the respondent’s attention to the elicited pictures (Appendix B) and ask how, in her opinion, these images reflect the need for educational intervention and whether the kids in the pictures are safe when using gadgets on their own. Account will be used to generate the response, which means that instead of connecting the pictures with her previous experiences, the participant will reflect on the possible interpretation of the visual materials provided (Pazdera & Kahana, 2018).


The participant chosen for the study is a 35-year-old woman who is a mother of two daughters: six and two years old. Since the start of the pandemic and lockdown in Saudi Arabia, schools and kindergartens have been closed, and women’s work has become remote. Thus, while she became a working-from-home mother, her children have been spending much time online watching some educational and entertainment content and studying remotely. Since she does not always have time to control what her children are doing online while she is working, I decided to examine how she educates her children on online behavior and Internet safety in general and whether she even regards this as an issue. Another significant criterion for choosing this participant was the fact that I was aware of her kids’ access to technology, and it was not uncommon for them to learn from kid-related YouTube content. Finally, the preschool age of hew kids played a significant role in choosing this candidate. She agreed on the participation, and we decided to conduct a synchronous Zoon interview in the Arabic language, during which I would ask her a series of open questions that may somehow deviate from a predetermined list of inquiries (Cole, 2018). Hence, this exact participant was chosen due to her explicit experience with children’s Internet safety during the pandemic.

Ethical Considerations

In order to meet the ethical requirements of scholarly empirical research, I will make sure to address all five ethical principles, including professional competence, “integrity, professional and scientific responsibility, respect for people’s rights, dignity, and diversity, and social responsibility” (Papademas & International Visual Sociology Association [IVSA], 2009, p. 252). Even though the photos elicited for the research are not the ones of the respondent, it would still be necessary to credit the source and make sure that people depicted in the pictures actually allowed such a source as CNN to use their images, or whether the stock website from which the pictures were elicited could provide such a guarantee. Moreover, I will make sure to define whether the research-found photos may not be potentially perceived as offensive or inappropriate (Cox et al., 2014).

As far as the data collection is concerned, it would be critical to make sure that sensitive data and the interview recording will not be accessed by anyone outside the circle of the study stakeholders. For the sake of the respondent’s safety, sensitive data, including her name, her children’s names, phone number, and address will be coded once mentioned (Papademas & International Visual Sociology Association [IVSA], 2009). Moreover, I will also create a separate hard drive to store the primary data related to the interview in order to avoid confidentiality breaches and information leaks. The respondent will sign a written consent form before conducting the interview.


Archibald, M. M., Ambagtsheer, R. C., Casey, M. G., & Lawless, M. (2019). Using zoom videoconferencing for qualitative data collection: Perceptions and experiences of researchers and participants. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18. Web.

Clark, K. R. (2018). Learning theories: Constructivism. Radiologic Technology, 90(2), 180-182.

Cohen, L. E., & Waite-Stupiansky, S. (Eds.). (2017). Theories of early childhood education. Routledge.

Cole, A. W. (2018). Online interviews. In The SAGE encyclopedia of communication research methods (Allen, M., ed., p. 1145). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Cox, S., Drew, S., Guillemin, M., Howell, C., Warr, D., & Waycott, J. (2014). Guidelines for ethical visual research methods. The University of Melbourne.

Papademos, D., & International Visual Sociology Association [IVSA]. (2009). IVSA code of research ethics and guidelines. Visual Studies, 24(3), 250-257.

Pauwels, L. (2020). An integrated conceptual and methodological framework for the visual study of culture and society. In The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (Pauwels, L., & D. Manny, Eds., pp. 14-36). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Pazdera, J. K., & Kahana, M. J. (2018). Modality effects in free recall: A retrieved-context account. Electronic dissertation: University of Pennsylvania [PDF document]. Web.

Pink. S. (2020). A multisensory approach to visual methods. In The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (Pauwels, L., & D. Manny, Eds., pp. 523-533). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Prosser, J., & Loxley, A. (2008). ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Review Paper: Introducing visual methods. Southampton: National Centre for Research Methods.

Radesky, J. (2021). Screen time and kids: What have we learned in the last year? CNN. Web.

Wall, K., Higgins, S., Hall, E., & Woolner, P. (2013). ‘That’s not quite the way we see it: The epistemological challenge of visual data. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 36(1), 3-22. Web.

Appendix A

  1. How would you describe your children’s Internet and technology utilization prior to the pandemic?
  2. What has changed in terms of your children using the Internet since the COVID-19 outbreak?
  3. To what extent, in your opinion, is it beneficial or disadvantageous for young children to learn from home?
  4. How would consider your awareness in terms of the Internet safety risks related to children’s online access?
  5. What are the major Internet safety risks for children online, in your opinion?
  6. Please, take a look at Picture 1. What is the Internet safety risk depicted here, in your opinion? Could it be somehow eliminated?
  7. How do you control your children’s Internet browsing and interaction patterns when working?
  8. Have you ever explained the dangers of sharing something or accessing inappropriate content on the Internet? If yes, what strategies have you tried?
  9. Look at Picture 2. What associations do you have with it? Does this often happen at your house? What do you think this kid is watching of doing with the tablet? Do your kids use tablets frequently at home? For what purposes do they use them?
  10. Why do you think Internet safety is an important topic to discuss with your children?
  11. You have two children aged six and two. How does Internet use differ for them?
  12. To what extent do you think your six-year-old daughter is a lot more considerate when accessing online data? Does she need much supervision?
  13. Look at Picture 3. What, in your opinion, maybe the outcome of such a widespread and consistent use of online media by preschoolers?
  14. Look at Picture 4. What are your associations with this picture? How, in your opinion, does learning how to use tablets and smartphones at an early age impact children?
  15. What measures should be taken in order to control and educate children on Internet safety in the nearest future?
  16. How, in your opinion, will the pattern of Internet access and screen time change once the pandemic ends?

Appendix B

All pictures are taken from the article by Radesky (2021) on the analysis of preschoolers and the increase in screen time after the pandemic outbreak.

Picture 1
Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 4