Children’s and Parents’ Perceptions of Online Commercial Data Practices: A Qualitative Study

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Children’s and Parents’ Perceptions of Online Commercial Data Practices: A Qualitative Study


  • Laurien Desimpelaere Department of Communication Sciences, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Belgium
  • Liselot Hudders Department of Communication Sciences, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Belgium / Department of Marketing, Innovation and Organization, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Dieneke Van de Sompel Department of Communication Sciences, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Belgium / Department of Marketing, Innovation and Organization, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium


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Abstract:  Children’s personal data are often collected for commercial aims. Although regulations in different countries aim to protect children’s privacy (e.g., by imposing websites to request parental consent for the processing of children’s data for commercial purposes), concerns about protecting children’s online data continue to rise. This article therefore aims to get insights into parents’ and children’s privacy coping strategies and perceptions underlying these strategies. In-depth interviews with ten parents and nine children (8–11 years) were conducted. Findings show that although children engaged in avoidance (e.g., leaving the particular website) and confrontation (e.g., seeking support) strategies, they mainly did this to protect their privacy from malicious individuals—and not from commercial parties. Participating children also lacked general knowledge about both explicit and implicit data practices. To protect their children’s privacy, parents in this study mainly adopted restrictive mediation strategies, but lacked the knowledge to undertake concrete actions in the case of implicit data collection. Implications for policymakers are discussed.

Keywords:  children; coping; data collection; online privacy; parents; privacy literacy

Published:   10 November 2020


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v8i4.3232


© Laurien Desimpelaere, Liselot Hudders, Dieneke Van de Sompel. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.