Empowering families and children to manage online identities

Today’s parents often begin building their children’s online identities through social media sharing even before birth.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, this project by UMSI professor Sarita Schoenebeck will look at how these identities are established and managed as children grow up.

Start date: 8/1/2016
End date: 7/31/2021

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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.

In this project, Schoenebeck will look at children's online identity formation and management. The first part of the 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. 

This grant continues Schoenebeck’s work under a previous NSF grant of $469,519, looking at how children and parents use social media and examining how to help them develop healthy social media habits.


CAREER: Protecting the Future of Children's Online Identities, National Science Foundation: $99,453


The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense