Parents as coresearchers at home: using an observational method to document young children's use of technology

Lisa M. Given, Denise Cantrell Winkler, Rebekah Willson, Christina Davidson, Susan Danby, Karen Thorpe

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This article discusses the use of observational video recordings to document young children's use of technology in their homes. Although observational research practices have been used for decades, often with video-based techniques, the participant group in this study (i.e., very young children) and the setting (i.e., private homes) provide a rich space for exploring the benefits and limitations of qualitative observation. The data gathered in this study point to a number of key decisions and issues that researchers must face in designing observational research, particularly where nonresearchers (in this case, parents) act as surrogates for the researcher at the data collection stage. The involvement of parents and children as research videographers in the home resulted in very rich and detailed data about children's use of technology in their daily lives. However, limitations noted in the data set (e.g., image quality) provide important guidance for researchers developing projects using similar methods in future. The article provides recommendations for future observational designs in similar settings and/or with similar participant groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2016



  • preschool children
  • technology use
  • observational methods
  • video recordings
  • research design
  • participant coresearchers

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