The conduct of social research into the daily lives and activities of children is important if we are to understand how children perceive themselves in relationship with the social institutions that matter most to them.
Ethically managed social research that undertakes to explore these perceptions by allowing children to speak for themselves, as informed and competent subjects, is vital if we are to truly understand their world, from their point of view.
The development of new technologies, in particular, the internet, has created a research context that impacts upon the ability of academics to conduct meaningful, qualitative social research with children. Regulatory bodies, such as education departments and institutional human research ethics committees, have become increasingly concerned with the fate of the collected research materials. How can we protect the privacy of children when there is increasing pressure for the data collected in the course of public funded research to be reused? How can we protect children from the consequences of the misappropriation of that material in the post-internet age?
This paper examines these issues in the context of social research in Australia on children’s play.
The paper was presented at the 'Watch this space: children, young people and privacy' conference in Melbourne on 21 May.