Today's children are 'Generation Tagged' - born into a world where social media sharing and data exploitation have become the norm. But at what cost? Generation Tagged explores the medium- and long-term effects on young people of their depiction as children in broadcast and social media, and the legal and ethical implications. The project is run by the Centre for Information Rights, part of Law at Winchester.
Parental posting of children’s lives on social media ('sharenting')
The growth in the use of social media platforms such as (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) which has been accompanied by instances of parents exposing the daily lives of their own very young children, often for financial gain, through ‘vlogging’ activities on sites such as YouTube Families. Some parents are prepared to go to extreme lengths in order to increase the number of ‘hits’ and thus the revenue received from associated advertising and product placement.
Depiction of children on broadcast media
Over the last decade or so there has been a significant growth in the number of very young children depicted on broadcast media at the instigation of adults. Reality programmes such as Channel 4’s ‘The Secret Lives of 4-year-olds’ are illustrative of this. These programmes are routinely accompanied by live audience interaction via Twitter enabling the viewing public to pass unedited comment about the young child participants. The focus of the research is the lack of any robust regulatory framework to protect the children involved.
The purpose of the project is to find out how young people feel about their participation in a reality television programme as children. For example, we are interested in knowing more about the information they were given at the time, their experience of the process at the time, whether their consent was sought, whether they feel they benefited from the experience, and how they feel about their privacy and about any comments that were made on social media.
The project aims to interview older children who were involved in reality television programmes at a young age (and the parents/guardians of those children). Below you will find information for young people and their parents/guardians who are interested in being involved in the project.
The aim is to publish this research, which also forms a REF Impact Case Study. Visit the University's REF 2021 page and the Centre for Information Rights page to find out more about the wide-ranging impact this research has achieved.
Principal Investigator: Dr Emma Nottingham, Senior Lecturer in Child and Family Law and Director of the Centre for Information Rights
Co-Investigator: Marion Oswald, Founder and former Director, Centre for Information Rights
Participating in the Children in the Media Project
How to participate
Before you decide to participate, it is important you understand what the project involves and what you will be asked to do. If you are under 18 years old, it is important that both you and your parent(s)/guardian(s) agree to the research.
If you would like to participate in the research project, please contact the Principal Investigator. She will send you a stamped addressed envelope to return the completed consent form. The form, as well as an information sheet, are available for download below.
Taking part in the study is entirely voluntary and you are free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason and without penalty or disadvantage. You are free to decline to answer particular questions. You can ask for your information to be removed from the project for a period of 3 months from the interview, unless it is no longer practical to do so (for example we have already written up the report).
If you decide to participate in the study, you will be invited to participate in a face-to-face interview with the research team at a location of your choice. This interview is likely to last between 1 and 2 hours. The young person and his/her parent(s)/guardian(s) can decide whether to have separate interviews or a joint interview. We do not expect there to be any risks associated with the interviews. We will take written notes during the interview and will ask for your consent to make a digital audio recording.
The records of this study will be kept confidential. Electronic copies of the written notes and the digital audio recordings will be stored in a password protected file in a password-protected part of the researchers' online storage behind the University's firewall. Any hard copy notes that are retained will be stored in a secure cabinet on University premises. We will not include any information in any report we may publish that would make it possible to identify the young person or the parent(s)/guardian(s). We may wish to give academic researchers outside this team access to your interview notes but they will not be given your identity.
All team members have current and relevant criminal records disclosure certificates, which we can produce upon request. The project has been approved by the University’s Ethics Committee process (reference: RKEEC16013). If you feel there is something wrong about the study, you can contact either the Principal Investigator or the Chair of the University Ethics Committee on by emailing email@example.com.
You have the right to ask questions about this research study and to have those questions answered before, during or after the research. If you have any further questions about the study at any time, feel free to contact the Principal Investigator. You can request a summary of the results of the study.
Your signature on the consent form indicates that you have decided to participate as a research subject for this study, and that you have read and understood the information provided above. If you are a parent/guardian, your signature on the consent form also indicates that you have decided to allow your child to participate. You will be given a signed and dated copy of the consent form to keep, along with a copy of the information sheet.
If you incur any expenses as a result of participating in the project (for example travel expenses), you will be reimbursed.