How should parents manage their children’s use of digital devices? Why do parents hope for so much from the digital world and yet fear it? The rights and wrongs of “digital parenting” are hotly contested within families, among policymakers, and in the media? To answer these questions, this chapter introduces fieldwork grounded in the day-to-day experiences of families. We argue that “digital parenting” has become a crucial means by which society explores pressing dilemmas over how to live, what constitutes well-being, and what a “good life” is. The chapter explores how parents look backward to their childhood to reflect on how they were parented, and then forward to the conditions in which their children might themselves parent in the future. We begin by positioning parenting conceptually in relation to theories of late modernity and the risk society, but find we must give more emphasis to the importance of established (if changing) social structures and persistent social inequalities. Throughout the book, we reveal how it is through their everyday practices that families navigate between present desires and material constraints. The chapter then introduces three distinct genres for “digital parenting”—embrace, balance, and resist—as a way of understanding the particular constellations of practices, values, and imaginaries that are threaded throughout the stories of individuals and families that follow.
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