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University of Michigan School of Information


Giving families and children power to manage online identities

Friday, 02/05/2016

Today’s parents often begin building their children’s online identities through social media sharing even before birth. With a $549,820 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation, UMSI assistant professor Sarita Schoenebeck will look at how these identities are established and managed as children grow up. The "CAREER: Protecting the Future of Children's Online Identities" grant extends from August 1, 2016 to July 31, 2021.

While many parents share children’s personal information on social media sites beginning during pregnancy, children have little ability to control this information upon reaching adulthood. This issue is complicated by technologies such as tagging and facial recognition that enable this personal data to be searched and indexed.

The first part of Schoenebeck’s project will examine what information families share about children online, how families think about the availability of past and future identities online, and how technology companies manage data about children. A second phase of the project involves the design and development of prototypes of tools that support families’ decision-making about the preservation, access and control of their children’s online identities. 

previous NSF grant allowed Schoenebeck to study how children and parents use social media and examined how to help them develop healthy social media habits.

- UMSI News Service