Behind the Screens – The Unseen Marketing

by Hanna Seglem Tangen

What do we know about what youth see on their mobile phone? Our mobile phones and social media are highly private and mostly for good reasons. It is our own alternative and digital world. Youth spend hours and hours daily on their mobile phones exploring this world. Unfortunately, there are some cons of this privacy. Our data is not private to commercial actors, and our time and following of different profiles on social media is a part of a huge digital economy. As we do not see what other people see on social media, it is not that easy to regulate unhealthy content, such as the marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks. Furthermore, children often use consumer goods to belong in a group (Pugh, 2011). This phenomenon was demonstrated last summer when popular YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI promoted the sports drink PRIME Hydration in Norway. Thousands of children turned up to the event and the sports drink was flying of the shelves for a long period of time (Eriksen et al., 2023). The sports drink was primarily promoted in social media.

Icons of a phone and people analyzing the content on the phone
credit: pexels | WebTechExperts

Food Environments

Lately, the term Food Environments has been coming up as a relevant subject. From the Public Health Institute of Norway comes the following definition: “Food environments are the physical, economic, political, and sociocultural contexts in which people interact with the food system when making choices about acquiring, preparing, and consuming food. This includes both physical and digital/virtual environments.” (Uldahl & Torheim, 2023). This also means that the foods and drinks we see on social media are a part of our Food Environment. Studies do indicate that advertising for unhealthy food and drink can influence children and adolescents’ choices, as well as change their attitudes and preferences towards different foods and drinks (Buchanan et al., 2018; Cairns et al., 2013; Coates et al., 2019; Harris et al., 2021; Kucharczuk et al., 2022; Lykke & Selberg, 2022; Mc Carthy et al., 2022; Sadeghirad et al., 2016; Smith et al., 2019).

Somebody taking a picture of plates of foods with a phone
credit: pexels | Roman Odintsov

Marketing for unhealthy foods and drinks in Norway

The Norwegian government is now planning to implement a new legislation to regulate marketing towards children and youth under the age of 18 (Innst. 398 S (2022-2023), 2023). However, our understanding of the amount of marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks on social media remains limited because the research methods are still insufficient. Social media platforms are rapidly changing alongside the forms of marketing. This makes it hard to follow the evolution of marketing on social media based on the existing methods. Formerly, my colleague Alexander Schjøll and I explored how much marketing a selection of influencers posted on social media over a period of three months (Tangen & Schjøll, 2023). Our findings revealed that nearly a quarter (24%) of all posts were marketing. The most frequently marketed categories were food and drinks, primarily sports and energy drinks, followed by clothing and accessories. Still, these results can just indicate the current situation, not generalize anything. Other Norwegian studies have shown different types of marketing to be more common (Retriever, 2022; Steinnes & Haugrønning, 2020).

Influencer promoting a drink
credit: pexels | ivan samk

In our study, even though we looked at popular influencers, we do not know what children and adolescents see on their own phones. We could not look into the ads, both traditional and personalized, that are displayed to each person based on their algorithms. Similar studies to ours have been done, but to this author’s knowledge, no other studies have been able to measure marketing in children’s and adolescent’s mobiles in a satisfying and precise way.

Influencer eating a slice of pizza
credit: pexels | ivan samk

Making the unseen marketing visible

Therefore, we are currently working on a project to monitor marketing on social media in cooperation with WHO and The Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Adolescents aged 13-18 are going to download an application developed by WHO. This application will monitor and capture screenshots from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube when our respondents use it. In this way we can capture and count the real exposure of marketing adolescents witness on social media. SIFO researchers Steinnes & Haugrønning (2020) conducted a study with a former version of the application, where the initial version processed the content of photos and returned text-based data. Their study provided promising results for further development and use of this method. Now, the application is further developed to take screenshots, sort out sensitive images by using AI and includes an analyzing tool who tags brands and commercials. Our continuation of Steinnes & Haugrønning’s (2020) method and a newer version of the application will provide us with new insights into unseen marketing on social media and youths digital food environments.

children sitting looking at a phone
credit: pexels | katerina holmes


Hanna Seglem Tangen is a research assistant at Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), belonging in the research group Sustainable Textile and Food Consumption. Hanna’s research interests include sustainable food consumption, public health, advertising and marketing, politics, policy, and evaluation. She applies with both qualitative and quantitative methods in her work.


Buchanan, L., Yeatman, H., Kelly, B., & Kariippanon, K. (2018). A thematic content analysis of how marketers promote energy drinks on digital platforms to young Australians. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 42(6), 530–531.

Cairns, G., Angus, K., Hastings, G., & Caraher, M. (2013). Systematic reviews of the evidence on the nature, extent and effects of food marketing to children. A retrospective summary. Appetite, 62, 209–215.

Coates, A. E., Hardman, C. A., Halford, J. C. G., Christiansen, P., & Boyland, E. J. (2019). Social Media Influencer Marketing and Children’s Food Intake: A Randomized Trial. Pediatrics, 143(4), e20182554.

Eriksen, D., Sørnes, A. J., Haugen, K., & Klokkerud Odden, F. (2023, June 27). Tusenvis av fans møtte Youtube-stjerner i Oslo. NRK.

Harris, J. L., Yokum, S., & Fleming-Milici, F. (2021). Hooked on Junk: Emerging Evidence on How Food Marketing Affects Adolescents’ Diets and Long-Term Health. Current Addiction Reports, 8(1), 19–27.

Innst. 398 S (2022-2023). (2023). Innstilling fra helse- og omsorgskomiteen om Folkehelsemeldinga – Nasjonal strategi for utjamning av sosiale helseforskjellar. Helse- og omsorgskomiteen.

Kucharczuk, A. J., Oliver, T. L., & Dowdell, E. B. (2022). Social media’s influence on adolescents′ food choices: A mixed studies systematic literature review. Appetite, 168, 105765.

Lykke, M. B., & Selberg, N. (2022). Usund digital markedsføring. Effekten af digital markedsføring af fødevarer med et højt indhold af fedt, salt og sukker på børn og unges fødevarevalg – en kortlægning af den videnskabelige evidens. Hjerteforeningen.

Mc Carthy, C. M., de Vries, R., & Mackenback, J. D. (2022). The influence of unhealthy food and beverage marketing through social media and advergaming on diet‐related outcomes in children—A systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 23(6),

Pugh, A. J. (2011). Distinction, boundaries or bridges?: Children, inequality and the uses of consumer culture. Poetics, 39(1), 1–18.

Retriever. (2022). Hva kommuniserer norske og utenlandske influensere til norske ungdommer på sosiale medier? Medietilsynet.

Sadeghirad, B., Duhaney, T., Motaghipisheh, S., Campbell, N. R. C., & Johnston, B. C. (2016). Influence of unhealthy food and beverage marketing on children’s dietary intake and preference: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Obesity Reviews, 17(10), 945–959.

Smith, R., Kelly, B., Yeatman, H., & Boyland, E. (2019). Food Marketing Influences Children’s Attitudes, Preferences and Consumption: A Systematic Critical Review. Nutrients, 11(4), Article 4.

Steinnes, K. K., & Haugrønning, V. (2020). Mapping the landscape of digital food marketing: Investigating exposure of digital food and drink advertisements to Norwegian children and adolescents. Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), OsloMet.

Tangen, H. S., & Schjøll, A. (2023). Eksponering for markedsføring av usunn mat og drikke. Reklame rettet mot barn og unge i sosiale medier. In 55 (Report SIFO-rapport;14-2023). Forbruksforskningsinstituttet SIFO, OsloMet.

Uldahl, M., & Torheim, L.-E. (2023). Metoder og indikatorer for kartlegging og overvåkning av matomgivelser i Norge. Folkehelseinstituttet.

How do smartphones shape belonging in a digitalized childhood?

by Øyvind Næss

In Norway, when something is said to have an ‘affective value’ (affeksjonsverdi), it is meant to convey how a thing can have a value that is disconnected from its economic or practical value within a system of exchange. Therefore, ‘affective value’ is a subjective value that always exists in a relation to a specific individual. The term is typically used for objects with an emotional significance or meaning attached to them. For example, you might have an old broken watch that you cannot get yourself to throw away. That probably means it has ‘affective value’. Throwing it away will come with an emotional cost.

picture of a smartphone with a child taking a selfie with a filter on Snapchat
credit: pexels | cottonbro

Not sure how to translate affeksjonsverdi into English, I asked my university’s AI chatbot for a translation and it proposed translating it into sentimental value. But connecting the term to sentimentality creates a binary between a subjective sentimental value and an objective practical, logical, and economic value. Such a binary division is rarely a good way to gain knowledge in a messy world. Instead, I will propose to understand the term as an emotional manifestation produced at the convergence of what Vanessa May on this blog calls the relational and material dimensions of belonging. Then the term instead conveys how value-laden objects draw events, materialities, and bodies together on an individual emotional register – and in doing so, help create a sense of who a person is by what it deems important. In short – where a person belongs. And that is not a question of sentimentality, that is a question of affect.

picture of a child laying on a couch with headphones looking at their phone.
credit: pexels | shkrabaanthony

In my fieldwork with younger children in digitalized childhoods, this convergence of events, materialities, and bodies is in many ways the central pivot that my interlocutors’ lives gravitate around. Even though I don’t engage directly with the concept of belonging in my research, I do engage with how smartphones create shared social experiences – joint spaces where children experience belonging and have their individual feelings of belonging recognized by their peers. For the children in my project, these feelings of belonging induced by digital entities are also connected to a heightened sense of agency through the opening up of novel digitalized ways to explore, be creative, and experiment within the heterogeneous assemblage that contemporary digitalized childhoods draw together.  

Picture of three children hanging out on a couch looking at a phone
credit: pexels | shkrabaanthony

An important part of my PhD project is to explore how children’s social experiences are tied to what I call gravitational forces that emerge as a result of digitalized childhood embeddedness in a global system of economic growth. In a language that perhaps aligns better with other posts on this blog, I explore how the potentialities of belonging are facilitated and constrained by the digital materialities deployed into contemporary digitalized childhoods.

picture of two people on a video call on a phone
credit: pexels | gabby k

One of the things I have found is that in childhood as in life in general, no one can escape gravity. All one can do is to act on it. And that is exactly what the children do. Smartphones laden with ‘affective value’ in digitalized childhoods do not exist in extrinsic relations with their owners. By turning to a Foucauldian view of power, these objects should rather seen as intrinsic parts of children’s identities by being situated as the mediators and catalysts of social connections. Thus, for the children I encountered in my fieldwork, the gravitational power enveloped in digitalized childhoods is not felt as a ‘power over…’ but as a ‘power to…’. However, this should not be taken to mean that no external power is present in digitalized childhoods (Massumi, 2015). It just means that power moves from extrinsic to intrinsic and from constraints to identity. By seeing smartphones and gaming consoles as objects of ‘affective value’, it is now possible to see how individual feelings of belonging in a contemporary childhood are ordered emotions, made to resonate with larger economic logics outside of childhood. Thus, for better and for worse, the potential for belonging in digitalized childhoods is always in-formed by the connections that it is possible to make between the materialities deployed in digitalized childhoods and the children that reside there on account of their social classification (Næss, forthcoming).

picture of two children sitting back to back each on a phone
credit: pexels | ron lach

Bio: Øyvind Næss is a PhD candidate at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. His research explores digitalized childhoods at the intersection of politics, individual experiences, and materialities through a theoretical framework informed by Deleuzeian affect theory.   

Massumi, B. (2015). Politics of affect. John Wiley & Sons.
Næss, Ø. (2025). A matter of logics, reasons, and practicalities: connecting spaces in a digitalized childhood. Forthcoming

Up and-coming belonging and youth research

Monika Marie Bergflødt

Read on and learn more about the exciting research of PhD candidate Monika Marie Bergflødt.

Place Attachment and Identity Exploration in Youth’s Everyday Lives

Picture of Oslo
credit pexels | naren-yogarajah

In recent years, there has been a surge in gendered narratives about boys and girls growing up in neighborhoods facing reputational challenges. The stories often revolve around minority communities and urban street cultures, attributing boys’ school struggles and involvement in crime and substance abuse to poverty, street culture and social stigma. Conversely, girls’ challenges are often seen in the context of patriarchal social control within minority communities (Rosten 2017; Smette et al, 2021; Sandberg & Pedersen, 2006). As scholars have shown, these narratives tend to oversimplify and obscure the intricate and constant evolving social realities of youth growing up today.

In my doctoral project, I seek to explore the ways in which boys and girls in stigmatized areas connect with people and places while navigating their identities in various social settings, both offline and online.

Picture of three teenage boys who are friends
credit | pexels cottonbro

A phenomenological and ethnographic approach

To grasp various layers of boys’ and girls’ everyday lives, I will combine interviews with participatory methods and fieldwork in a phenomenological and ethnographic study.

Phenomenological research aims to provide in-depth descriptions of experiences rather than definitive answers. Merleau-Ponty (1963) and Simone de Beauvoir (1949) both view the body as intricately connected to broader social, cultural and historical contexts. They emphasize that our experiences and interactions within these contexts also shape our understanding of ourselves.

Until now, perspectives on embodied experiences have largely been overlooked in the debates about youth in so-called “troubled neighborhoods”.  In my project, I seek to follow boys and girls in various aspects of their daily lives. By letting the participants lead the way and observing their interactions, I hope to capture the dynamic and embodied aspects of their social identities, gaining insights into how they understand themselves in different situations.

 “At-risk youth” and “troubled neighborhoods”

Picture of a housing block front
credit | pexels – pixabay

As researchers, it is important that we critically examine the concepts and categories we employ and consider whether they truly reflect the experiences of those we study (Staunæs, 2003). In recent years, numerous empirical studies have delved into the experiences of youth in stigmatized neighborhoods, drawing on Loïc Wacquant’s theory of territorial stigmatization (Rosten, 2017; Jensen & Christensen, 2012; Sernhede, 2011; Andersson, 2003). These studies reveal that narratives surrounding growing up in the «wrong place,» as well as the ways in which boys and girls relate to and negotiate these spaces, shape different experiences based on gender. Additionally, young people often encounter labels related to ethnicity, religion, and culture, even when they don’t see them as personally significant (Kindt & Strand, 2020).

Labelling children and young people as «vulnerable» or «at-risk» extends beyond mere descriptions of their circumstances. These labels may also serve as mechanisms of power, shaping perceptions of and responses to them in society (Gullestad, 2006). Essentially, labels don’t just mirror reality; they actively shape it, often unfairly.

In my project, I hope to grasp how boys and girls not only are influenced by the gendered narratives that surround them, but also how they interpret and redefine these narratives in various contexts.

A group of children reading a magazine
credit | pexels cottonbro

Digital platforms: new arenas for identity exploration

Being young today also involves growing up in an era where digital advancements have opened doors to new ways of self-expression and visibility, consequently making digital platforms significant arenas for identity exploration.

According to American sociologist Rogers Brubaker (2023), digital hyperconnection, as he refers to it, has changed how we relate to others and our sense of time and place. He suggests that living in a digital world, constantly connected to people and information, has not only changed how we see ourselves but also how others see us. However, Brubaker’s view is quite broad and impersonal. In my project, phenomenological and feminist perspectives may offer deeper and more nuanced insights into the complex dynamics unfolding in the lives of boys and girls living in situated yet “hyperconnected” digital lives.

credit | pexels wendywei

About Monika

Monika Marie Bergflødt is a PhD Candidate in Social Sciences at OsloMet, affiliated with the Department for Childhood, Family and Child Welfare (NOVA). Bergflødt’s research interests encompass social inequality, childhood, and the sense of belonging within multicultural and digital societies.


Andersson, M. (2003). Immigrant youth and the dynamics of marginalization. Young, 11(1), 74–89.

Beauvoir, S. d. ([1949] 2000). Det annet kjønn. (Christensen, Overs.). Pax Forlag.

Brubaker, R.. (2023). Hyperconnectivity and Its Discontents. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Christensen, A.-D., & Siim, B. (2006). Fra køn til diversitet–intersektionalitet i en dansk/nordisk kontekst. Kvinder, køn & forskning(2-3).

Gullestad. (2006). Plausible prejudice: everyday experiences and social images of nation, culture and race. Universitetsforlaget.

Jensen, S. Q., & Christensen, A.-D. (2012). Territorial stigmatization and local belonging: A study of the Danish neighbourhood Aalborg East. City, 16(1-2), 74-92.

Kindt, M. T., & Strand, A. H. (2020). Hele mennesker–delte tjenester.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1965). Phenomenology of perception. Routledge.

Rosten, M. G. (2017). Territoriell stigmatisering og gutter som «leker getto» i Groruddalen. Norsk sosiologisk tidsskrift, 1(1), 53-70.

Sandberg, S., & Pedersen, W. (2006). Gatekapital. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Sernhede, O. (2011). School, youth culture and territorial stigmatization in Swedish metropolitan districts. Young, 19(2), 159-180.

Smette, I., Hyggen, C., & Bredal, A. (2021). Foreldrerestriksjoner blant minoritetsungdom: omfang og mønstre i og utenfor skolen. Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning, 62(1), 5-26.

Staunæs, D. (2003). Where have all the subjects gone? Bringing together the concepts of intersectionality and subjectification. NORA: Nordic journal of women’s studies, 11(2), 101-110.

From digital playground to dark patterns

by Clara J. Reich & Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes

Video games are important social arenas for children and adolescents in Norway. Playing video games is one of the most popular leisure activities (Medietilsynet, 2022) where young people can meet and hang out with their friends, have fun, learn new skills, feel a sense of belonging, relax, and explore.

In contrast to the positive aspects of video games, recent concerns have emerged about the understudied economic elements that children are required to navigate (e.g. Grimes, 2021). The literature highlights ongoing trends within the video game industry toward developing new revenue models through an increased sale of virtual products (Wardyga, 2023). New revenue strategies and in particular “dark patterns” have been argued as problematic. But what are dark patterns? How can they be researched and what do they look like? And what can be done about them?

gaming controller
credit: pexels | cottonbro

Dark patterns

The Norwegian Council (2022) writes that dark patterns, also referred to as manipulative design, aim to guide, deceive, or pressure consumers to make choices that are mainly beneficial for the business and not the consumer. The OECD (2022) uses a similar term which they term «dark commercial patterns». They describe them as an economic practice that uses elements of digital choice architecture to hinder or disrupt consumer’s choice, autonomy, and ability to make informed choices. This often intends to encourage the consumer to leave more time, money, and personal data in digital platforms than planned. In video games, this is also called «dark game design patterns” which are used intentionally by game developers (King & Delfabbrio, 2018).

Researching manipulative design in video games

In the “Pay-to-Play” project, manipulative design in video games was studied through a nethnographic approach. Specifically, three commercial video games that are popular among children and adolescents in Norway were mapped. This involved a mapping of the items for purchase and an analysis of the game interfaces related to purchasing. To better understand young people’s perspectives, 19 play-along interviews were conducted. The participants were aged 10-15 and lived in different parts of Norway.  

Three kids gaming
credit: pexels | gustavo fring

What does manipulative design in video games look like?

In the games, thirteen manipulative design strategies were mapped. These were grouped into four major categories.

  1. Visual design
  2. Unclear labeling
  3. Time-based elements
  4. Gambling mechanisms

This illustrates that manipulative design can take many shapes and be combined with various techniques to make players spend more time and money than intended in video games. Yet, it should be noted that not all video games have (all) manipulative design strategies and sometimes it can be challenging to distinguish between manipulative and engaging design. Further, it should be noted that some video games have fair design or what can be called “anti-manipulative design”.

What to do about dark patterns?

As video games are an important social arena it is important to ensure that young people can safely navigate them. Here are three suggestions that might contribute towards this goal:

  1. Increasing both parents and their children’s level of digital competence especially their critical consumer competence to better navigate unpleasant social encounters and manipulative design in video games.
  2. There is a need for policymakers to regulate manipulative design to better protect consumer rights. As many popular commercial video game companies are international, we suggest that laws should be developed across national borders to ensure their effectiveness.
  3. Further research is needed to gain a more detailed understanding of how manipulative design works in different games, which effect it has, and how it can be distinguished from engaging design.

Interested in more?

Check out the Norwegian report or extended English summary of the report mapping manipulative game design and the report on the role of kids’ consumption in video games and how it influences social relations. You can also read Kamilla’s piece on Pay-to-play? Belonging through consumption in commercial games on the Belong blog.

Authors’ bio

Clara Julia Reich and Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes are Ph.D. candidates at Consumption Research Norway. They research young people’s digital everyday lives from a consumption research perspective.


Forbrukerrådet. (2022). Insert Coin How the gaming industry exploits consumers using loot boxes.

Grimes, S. M. (2021). Digital playgrounds: the hidden politics of children’s online play spaces, virtual worlds, and connected games. University of Toronto Press.

Medietilsynet. (2022). Spillfrelste tenåringsgutter og jenter som faller fra – Slik gamer barn og unge.

King, D. L., & Delfabbro, P. H. (2018). Predatory monetization schemes in video games (e.g. ‘loot boxes’) and internet gaming disorder. Addiction, 113(11), 1967-1969.

Wardyga, B. J. (2018). The Video Games Textbook: History • Business • Technology. Milton: A K Peters/CRC Press.

Stedstilhørighet og lovovertredelser

Anita Borch

Luam Kebreab har vært knyttet til Belong-prosjektet der hun våren -23 leverte sin masteroppgave i barnevern ved OsloMet – storbyuniversitet, Fakultet for samfunnsvitenskap. Oppgaven har tittelen «Oppfatninger om lovovertredelser og deres årsaksforklaringer. Kvalitative intervjuer av unge i Oslo øst». Kebreab ble engasjert av Belong-prosjektet for å studere sammenhengen mellom lovovertredelser og tilhørighet blant unge.


Tesen var at unges tilhørighet til mennesker, steder, aktiviteter og ting i varierende grad forutsetter tilstrekkelig økonomi og tilgang til klær, utstyr og annet. Dersom disse økonomiske og materielle inngangsportene mangler, kan enkelte unge være villige til å begå lovovertredelser for å skaffe seg dem. Hvis så, kan økt kunnskap om unges tilhørighet bidra i utviklingen av mer effektive, politiske tiltak med mål om å redusere ungdomskriminalitet blant unge.

picture of housing blocsk
credit: pexels | vetrova z

Om studien

Ser en bort fra pandemiårene, har nemlig ungdomskriminaliteten økt i Oslo siden 2014. Hvorfor det er slik, vet vi lite om. Som tittelen tilsier, avgrenser oppgaven seg til å omhandle unges oppfatninger om lovovertredelser og deres årsaksforklaringer. Studien baserer seg på intervjuer av seks 16-18-åringer bosatt på Oslo øst. Etnisk/territoriell tilhørighet er blant årsaksfaktorene som studeres, ved siden av økonomi og sosial ulikhet, sosial status og anerkjennelse.


Studien viser at unges syn på lovovertredelser er et resultat av et komplekst samspill mellom økonomiske, sosiale og territorielle faktorer. Blant annet fremkommer det at lovovertredelser anses som normalt blant unge og at slike overtredelser i enkelte miljøer kan være en kilde til sosial status og anerkjennelse. Trang økonomi og sosial ulikhet bidrar til å legitimere lovovertredelser. Også stedstilhørighet synes å påvirke unges syn på lovovertredelser fordi den skaper et skille mellom «oss» og «de andre», blant annet mellom «dem som har for mye» (stort sett bosatt på vestkanten) og «dem som har for lite» (som regel bosatt på østkanten). Kiving om ressurser av mer eller mindre lovlydig art (f.eks. salg av narkotika) kan også forekomme blant territorielt forankrede grupperinger av unge på østkanten.

Sharenting in Norway

By Clara Julia Reich, Live Standal Bøyum, and Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes

Children in Norway will have on average 1165 pictures of themselves on the Internet by the time they are 12 years old, according to UNICEF (2020). This shows that a lot of content is shared about children in Norway, often by their family members and friends. The practice of parents sharing information about their children is referred to as sharenting, a termderived from the words sharing and parenting. This practice is common both internationally and in Norway (Blum-Ross & Livingstone, 2017; Elvestad et al., 2021; Jorge et al., 2022; Otero, 2017). Analyzing sharenting from the perspective of both children and parents and bringing forth young people’s views is understudied (Lipu & Siibak, 2019; Verswijvel et al. 2019). Further, there is a lack of research in a Norwegian context (Bhroin et al., 2022).

Somebody taking a picture of a family meal
credit: pexels askar abayev

Researching sharenting

The project “Sharenting – in the best interest of the child?” was conducted by Clara Julia Reich, Live Bøyum, Helene Fiane Teigen, and Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes, and the results build on the report they published (2023). The project aimed to fill the identified research gaps by conducting three focus groups and a workshop:

  1. ten children aged 9-12;
  2. seven adolescents aged 13-18;
  3. nine guardians aged 34-47 and
  4. a workshop where five parents brought along one child each to discuss sharenting.

Why do Norwegian parents share?

In the project, we found a variety of motivations behind why parents share. Parents mainly share to collect memories of valued moments, keep in touch with friends and families, show off their kids, and get feedback. Parents may also share to mark special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, or the first day at school.

A mother taking a picture of her child and partner.
credit: pexels | kampus production

What are the issues?

Children and adolescents are particularly worried about any potential negative effects on their lives from sharenting. They wish to control their own digital identities and are concerned about sharenting leading to bullying. The views on what “good” content is differ between children and their parents which can lead to conflicts. Moreover, parents and their children also acknowledged that sharenting can lead to risks due to the possibility of it being misused in criminal activities such as deepfakes, sexual abuse, or kidnapping. Further, the participants were worried about potential abuse of the shared content in the future. However, parents pointed out that they do not want to harm their children and have good intentions when sharing.

How to improve sharenting?

Children and adolescents want to be asked for consent before parents share content about them. They would like to know what, with whom, and where content about them is shared. Further, children and adolescents would like their parents to ask for their consent from an early age and wish that their parents respect their boundaries when they disapprove of sharing. The young participants also suggested a need to increase their parents’ digital competence, for instance through school programs in Norway. Further, they wish to reduce the amount of sharing to a few selected special moments.

In collaboration with Tenk, a parent meeting guide for Norwegian schools was developed to inspire parents to be good role models in content sharing. The material is free to use and aims at inspiring dialogue and reflections between parents and children Foreldremøte om bildedeling på sosiale medier | Tenk (

A woman and a child taking a selfie.
credit: pexels | rdn stock project

Authors’ bio

Clara Julia Reich, Live Standal Bøyum, and Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes are all Ph.D. candidates at Consumption Research Norway and have an interest in digitalization and everyday lives.


  • Blum-Ross, A., & Livingstone, S. (2017). “Sharenting,” parent blogging, and the boundaries of the digital self. Popular Communication, 15(2), 110-125.
  • Bhroin, N. N., Dinh, T., Thiel, K., Lampert, C., Staksrud, E. & Olafsson, K. (2022). The Privacy Paradox by Proxy: Considering Predictors of Sharenting. Media and communication (Lisboa), 10(1S2), 371-383. Doi:
  • Elvestad, E., Staksrud, E. & Ólafsson, K. (2021). Digitalt foreldreskap i Norge. Institutt for medier og kommunikasjon, UiO/Universitetet i Sørøst-Norge
  • Lipu, M. and Siibak, A. (2019). ‘“Take it down!”: Estonian parents’ and preteens’ opinions and experiences with sharenting’, Media International Australia, 170(1), 1–11. Doi:
  • Elvestad, E., Staksrud, E. & Ólafsson, K. (2021). Digitalt foreldreskap i Norge. Institutt for medier og kommunikasjon, UiO/Universitetet i Sørøst-Norge.
  • Jorge, A., Marôpo, L., Coelho, A. M., & Novello, L. (2022). Mummy influencers and professional sharenting. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 25(1), 166–182.Doi:
  • Otero, P. (2017). Sharenting… should children’s lives be disclosed on social media. Arch Argent Pediatr, 115(5), 412-413.
  • Reich, C. J.; Bøyum, L.; Fiane Teigen, H.; Steinnes, K. K. (2023). «Sharenting» – til barnets beste? Personvern og kritisk medieforståelse knyttet til foreldres deling av egne barn i sosiale medier. SIFO rapport 9- 2023. «Sharenting»- til barnets beste? Personvern og kritisk medieforståelse knyttet til foreldres deling av egne barn i sosiale medier (
  • UNICEF (2020). 6 råd om deling av bilder av barn. Hentet fra:
  • Verswijvel, K., Walrave, M., Hardies, K., & Heirman, W. (2019). Sharenting, is it a good or a bad thing? Understanding how adolescents think and feel about sharenting on social network sites. Children and Youth Services Review, 104, 104401. Doi:

School belonging

by Mathilde Bjørnset – OsloMet

Children spend more and more time in school. By the turn of the 20th century, many countries had made schooling compulsory, as mass schooling had accompanied the industrial revolution (Leonard, 2016). In Norway, there has been a drastic increase in yearly teaching hours from 6,904 in 1997 to 7,686 in 2022 (Moen, 2023). This is both due to the enrollment of six-year-olds in school in 1997, lowering the starting age by one year, and due to the average school day consisting of more teaching hours. This development has led to Norwegian children spending five times as much time in various educational institutions before they turn ten, compared to 40−50 years ago (Nordahl, 2012).

Kids walking at a school yard
credit: pexels | norma mortenson

A feature of late modernity is its high degree of dynamism, characterized by rapid change, growth, and innovation brought about by cumulative social, technological, and cultural acceleration (Rosa et al., 2016). This ever-increasing production and consumption, demand an acceleration in knowledge. As a lack of education can bar someone from the labor market, schools have evolved from a selection system for some and a retention system for many to a selection system for all (Frønes, 2018). Never before have more individuals dedicated so much time, resources, and energy to becoming educated, as in this “schooled society” (Baker, 2014). The downfall of late modernity’s high pace is desynchronization, causing individual burnout.

Two kids standing in front of a blackboard
credit: pexels | max fischer

The core goal of the education system is to prepare children for their future, as an investment in human capital. A sense of belonging in school has been found to have a positive impact on academic achievement (Hodges et al., 2018; Slaten et al., 2016), being an important predictor of future outcomes. When spending as much time during childhood in school, belonging also matters for how children are doing in the present, not only a matter for the future. When school belonging is found to be decreasing (Allen et al., 2018; Bakken, 2023; OECD, 2019), this should be of concern both for children’s future and children’s lives in the present.

What is school belonging?

In 1993, Goodenow and Grady defined the term school belonging as: «the extent to which pupils feel personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others in the school social environment». Since then, school belonging has been described using various definitions and terminology, such as bonding, engagement, and connectedness (Allen et al., 2018). Goodenow and Grady’s definition emphasizes the multiple features of school belonging, and the various definitions tend to share three similar aspects:

(i)        School-based relationships and experiences with peers

(ii)       Pupil-teacher relationships

(iii)      Pupil’s general feelings about school as a whole

Two children walking home after school
credit: pexels | pragyan bezbaruah

These aspects do not simply exist within the individual. Previous research on school belonging has been focused on individual and personal factors, but recent years have highlighted the importance of understanding context (Allen et al., 2018). There is the influence of family, teachers, and peers, and the interactions between these people and the school’s social and organizational culture. Schools exist within a neighborhood, and external contexts influence school belonging. Parents’ workplace could both affect the family economy and how much time a child spends with their parents, and socioeconomic background and parent-child relationships are found to influence numerous aspects of children’s lives. The macrosystem brings in aspects from the development in society, understanding the school system not as an isolated institution, but as a part of this greater society. Policies, norms, and values are gradually shifting. A recent example of a temporal aspect that influences the system, and potential school belonging, is the COVID-19 pandemic. The policies and restrictions in this regard changed everyday life almost overnight, and after some time these restrictions were repealed, changing it again.

Three kids at a table in a class room.
credit: pexels | mikhail nilov

Studies find that school belonging is connected to several arenas in children’s lives, both in the present and in the future. It can affect well-being and mental health, as studies find it connected to reducing depression and anxiety (Allen et al., 2018; Shochet et al., 2011), and Parr et al. (2020) even find it to be the largest known correlate with adolescent depression. It’s also been found to increase life satisfaction, trust, and tolerance of others (O’Connor et al., 2011), and diminish doctor’s visits and chronic health conditions later in life (Caspi et al., 2006). Regarding school, it has been found to have a positive impact on academic achievement (Hodges et al., 2018; Slaten et al., 2016), being an important predictor of future well-being. As these are only a selection of studies that find school belonging in connection to other aspects of life, this clearly states the importance both for children’s well-being in the present and in the future.

Decreasing school belonging

Since PISA started measuring school belonging in 2003, it has shown a decrease (OECD, 2019). On average, one in four adolescents have low levels of school belonging (Allen et al., 2018). In Oslo, the same trends are found in the Ungdata survey among pupils in secondary school and high school. The first aspect (i) of school belonging can be measured by the claim “I feel like I fit in among the pupils at school”, which has decreased from 87 % in 2015 to 81 % in 2023. The second aspect (ii) can be measured by the claim “my teacher cares about me”, has decreased from 88 % to 80 % in the same years, and third (iii) “I enjoy school” has decreased from 95 % to 88 % (Bakken, 2023). As the variables that relate to school belonging positively have decreased, the variables related negatively have had a similar increase in the Ungdata survey. Pupils agreeing with “I often dread going to school” has increased from 16 % in 2015 to 26 % in 2023 (Bakken, 2023). Although research has found that school belonging significantly declines during adolescence, there is less research trying to explain this downfall.

Girl standing thinking in front of a black board.
credit: pexels | max fischer

One possible key to understanding the decrease in school belonging could be through a better understanding of why school-related stress is increasing. School-related stress is very widespread among young people (Haug et al., 2020), and the experience of stress depends on socioeconomic conditions (Frydenberg et al., 2017). A study from Sweden shows that the decline in school belonging was driven by students from disadvantaged social backgrounds, low-achieving students, and foreign-born students (Högberg et al., 2021). The authors of this study emphasize the fact that the decline coincided with a major educational reform, characterized by an increased use of summative evaluation, and an overall stronger performance orientation. How pupils manage stress and regulate emotions depends on their social and emotional skills. This skill is not something that simply pupils possess but is affected by contexts and processes of interactions and relationships. This increased stress, categorized as negative stress, is of concern in schools, as this is put in the context of increased testing in schools, increasing involuntary school absences, and general increases in mental problems among pupils.

Two girls working in a classroom
credit: pexels | mary taylor

Modern society is speeding up, but the motor of this acceleration is not human desire alone, it’s a systemic necessity. The downfall of this acceleration is desynchronization, causing individual burnout. There is a knowledge gap in the research explaining the reasons for declining school belonging, and one key to understanding this could be the increased stress. Given that children spend a significant amount of their childhood in school, it is crucial to comprehend the concept of decreasing school belonging to bring resonance into children’s lives in the present, as well as in the future.

Author’s bio: Mathilde Bjørnset is a PhD Candidate in Educational Sciences at Oslo Metropolitan University and a researcher at the Department for Youth Research at NOVA. In her PhD, she investigates school belonging and well-being through Ungdata Junior, a nationwide survey among middle schoolers in Norway ( grade).

A child writing
credit: unsplash | annie spratt


Allen, K., Kern, M. L., Vella-Brodrick, D., Hattie, J., & Waters, L. (2018). What Schools Need to Know About Fostering School Belonging: a Meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 30(1), 1-34.

Baker, D. P. (2014). The schooled society: the educational transformation of global culture. Stanford University Press.

Bakken, A. (2023). Ung i Oslo 2023. Ungdomsskolen og videregående skole. (NOVA-rapport, Issue. 6/23.

Caspi, A., Harrington, H., Moffitt, T. E., Milne, B. J., & Poulton, R. (2006). Socially Isolated Children 20 Years Later: Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 160(8), 805-811.

Frydenberg, E., Martin, A. J., & Collie, R. J. (2017). Social and Emotional Learning in Australia and the Asia-Pacific. Perspectives, Programs, and Approaches. Springer.

Frønes, I. (2018). Den krevende barndommen. Om barndom, sosialisering og politikk for barn. Cappelen Damm Akademisk.

Haug, E., Robson-Wold, C., Helland, T., Jåstad, A., Torsheim, T., Fismen, A.-S., Wold, B., & Samdal, O. (2020). Barn og unges helse og trivsel: Forekomst og sosial ulikhet i Norge og Norden (HEMIL-rapport 2020. Institutt for helse, miljø og likeverd – HEMIL. Universitetet i Bergen, Issue.

Hodges, A., Cordier, R., Joosten, A., Bourke-Taylor, H., & Speyer, R. (2018). Evaluating the psychometric quality of school connectedness measures: A systematic review. PLOS ONE, 13(9), e0203373.

Högberg, B., Petersen, S., Strandh, M., & Johansson, K. (2021). Determinants of Declining School Belonging 2000–2018: The Case of Sweden. Social Indicators Research, 157(2), 783-802.

Leonard, M. (2016). The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation. Sage: London.

Moen, O. M. (2023). Skolens omsorgssvikt (Vol. 2). Cappelen Damm AS.

Nordahl, T. (2012). Dette vet vi om klasseledelse. Gyldendal Akademisk.

O’Connor, M., Sanson, A., Hawkins, M. T., Letcher, P., Toumbourou, J. W., Smart, D., Vassallo, S., & Olsson, C. A. (2011). Predictors of positive development in emerging adulthood. J Youth Adolesc, 40(7), 860-874.

PISA 2018 Results (Volume III),  (2019).

Parr, E. J., Shochet, I. M., Cockshaw, W. D., & Kelly, R. L. (2020). General Belonging is a Key Predictor of Adolescent Depressive Symptoms and Partially Mediates School Belonging. School Mental Health, 12(3), 626-637.

Rosa, H., Dörre, K., & Lessenich, S. (2016). Appropriation, Activation, and Acceleration: The Escalatory Logics of Capitalist Modernity and the Crises of Dynamic Stabilization. Theory, Culture & Society, 34(1), 53-73.

Shochet, I. M., Smith, C. L., Furlong, M. J., & Homel, R. (2011). A prospective study investigating the impact of school belonging factors on negative affect in adolescents. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol, 40(4), 586-595.

Slaten, C. D., Ferguson, J. K., Allen, K.-A., Brodrick, D.-V., & Waters, L. (2016). School Belonging: A Review of the History, Current Trends, and Future Directions. Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 33(1), 1-15.

To game is to belong

Anita Borch

In August 2023, my colleague, Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes, and I published a SIFO report addressing male gamers’ (16-18 y.o.a.) relationship to loot boxes (Borch and Steinnes, 2023). Loot boxes can be defined as “mystery packages” of digital content in video games that give them advantages (e.g., skills like being stronger and running faster) or cosmetic items (e.g., a nice sword or  shining armour) for use within the context of the game. Most loot boxes cost money. If so, gamers spend sums of money for a chance to receive a desirable reward (Forbrukerrådet (FR), 2022).

Picture of two boys gaming
credit: pexels | cottonbro studio

Young people and loot boxes

The report was financed by the Norwegian Media Authority (Mediatilsynet) with money reserved for gambling research. The funding must be seen in the context of a growing concern regarding the sale and marketing of loot boxes in games played by children and youth, especially on mobile phones (Steinnes, 2022). The first loot boxes were launched in 2004 (Vito, 2021). In 2020, the gross turnover of loot boxes was 15 billion US dollars (FR, 2022). In 2022, the estimated gross turnover had increased to 50 billion US dollars (Uddin, 2021). Children and youth are regarded as vulnerable consumer groups who need special protection by law (FR, 2022). Currently, national governments around the world discuss if and, if so, how lootboxes should be regulated. In Belgium and the Netherlands, loot boxes are perceived as a form of gambling and regulated accordingly (FR, 2022).

picture of gaming equipment
credit: pexels | lucie liz

Findings from a Norwegian context

Special attention was in this report paid to the young gamers’ knowledge, experiences and attitudes associated with loot boxes, as well as their opinions about how loot boxes should be regulated by law. An observation from this study is that gamers have high knowledge about loot boxes and that this knowledge primarily is based on their own experiences as gamers obtained without guidance from adults. Most gamers bought their first loot box at the age of 12 and became more critical of loot boxes as they got older. From their point of view, loot boxes should not be forbidden, but more strictly regulated. For example, an age limit should be set, and the loot boxes should be bought with real money rather than in-game currency. When paying for loot boxes, it should be more difficult to use the bank account number of their parents without their consent, and the extra sum that often remains after loot boxes are bought should be forbidden as the money only can be spent on more loot boxes. The loot boxes’ use of gambling mechanisms to trigger sales is easily recognizable. Among others, the gamers do not know what they get. Whether they win or lose, they are predicted to play more, respectively to exploit their winning luck, or to win back some of the loss. The excitement of buying loot boxes increases over time (it takes up to 10 seconds to open a loot box), and many loot boxes are designed to create a “near-winning”-illusion triggering gamers to try once again if they lose.

Thre young men gaming
credit: pexels | pavel danilyuk

Belonging and loot boxes

However, as a “belonging researcher”, I was not primarily struck by the gamers’ knowledge and opinions about loot boxes, nor the obvious gambling mechanisms underpinning them. No, what struck me most were the social aspect and the strong motivation to belong that seemed to lay behind the young gamers’ purchase of loot boxes. I have never bought a loot box myself. Nor am I a gamer. Before we did the research, I had the understanding that gamers primarily played and, hence, bought loot boxes because they wanted to be entertained and/or to compete. Now, I got the impression that they, ultimately, did it to belong to other gamers – mostly friends they also met in their physical lives. In gaming theory, games are often categorized as either multi-player or single-player, in which the former games are played together with others and the latter are played alone. Symptomatically, loot boxes are only offered in multi-player games. If they were offered in single-player games, very few would buy them because they have no one to show their new skills or looks to. To belong, people need to be visible to others (Pugh, 2009). From this point of view, gamers may buy loot boxes to become visible to others either by showing them that they possess the same skills and cosmetics as them. For some, having the same skills or cosmetics is not enough. They need better skills or better cosmetics, either because they want a higher position in the group, or because they think they need to be better to deserve a position in the group at all. In the latter case, being better is not necessarily a sign of self-esteem and strength, but rather the opposite.

Two gaming controllers
credit: pexels | cottonbro

Games as social arenas

Games are not only a social arena in which gamers meet friends. They are also arenas about which people can socialize by being a common topic of conversation. The research on young gamers was based on focus group interviews. Researching young men in potentially unwell situations like this is not always easy. In this case, however, it was. Seldom have young people talked more freely and engaged in focus groups. At one point in the conversation, I asked them if gaming is “the new football” in the sense of being a topic for conversation about which all can talk, for example when eating lunch at the canteen. The answer was something like “We know what you mean. Yes, but no. It isn’t that wide yet”. If gaming is “almost football”, gaming has the potential to become a common cultural phenomenon with the power of binding people together and thereby be one of many components building cultures that go far beyond that of a game or a group of friends. Loot boxes may not be a key component in these conversations, but definitely part of it. For this reason, the role of loot boxes in society should not be underestimated. A report from the Norwegian Media Authority (2022) shows that children start gaming in early age. 9-10 y.o.a. 95% boys and 88% girls report that they are gaming. This indicates that gaming plays an important role in children’s everyday life. For most children, loot boxes represent an innocent introduction to gambling-like entertainment. Further for some children, however, they may be the first stepping stone to a long career as “gambling addicted”.  It makes me sad thinking about the possibility that it, ultimately, was the children’s fundamental need to belong that released this career – triggered by innovative gaming businesses exploiting their vulnerability as (minor) human beings, and by politicians letting them do so.

a young man gaming at a gaming convention
credit: unsplash | florian olivo


Anita Borch er prosjektleder av Belong-prosjektet. Hun er utdannet sosiolog ved Universitetet i Oslo og tok sin doktorgrad ved Universitetet i Helsinki. Borch er i dag ansatt som forsker I ved SIFO. Hun har jobbet med en rekke tema, blant annet kjøpestopp, matsikkerhet, energiforbruk i hjemmet, julegavegiving, forbrukerkunnskap blant unge, økonomisk likestilling, digitale medier og barn og reklame.


Borch, A. and Steinnes, K. K. (2023) Unges forhold til kjøp av overraskelsespakker (lootboxes) i dataspill. SIFO-Rapport 4 – 2023. Forbruksforskningsinstituttet SIFO OsloMet – storbyuniversitetet.

Forbrukerrådet (2022) Insert coin. How the gaming industry exploits consumers using loot boxes. Forbrukerrådet, 31.5.2022.

Medietilsynet (2022) Spillfrelste tenåringsgutter og jenter som faller fra. Slik gamer barn og unge. Barn og Medier 2022. November 2022.

Pugh, A. (2009) Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children and Consumer Culture. University of California Press, Berkley, CA.

Pugh, A. (2010) Distinction, boundaries or bridges?: Children, inequality and the uses of consumer culture. Poetics, 39, 1-18.

Steinnes, K. K. (2022). “Free to play – pay to win”: How games are designed to incentivize consumption of virtual goods in-game. Submitted manuscript.

Uddin, S. (2021). Loot the children: The need to regulate predatory loot box mechanics in video games that target young audiences. Family Court Review 59(4): 870-885.

Vito, J. (2021) The Evolution of Loot Boxes, Crates, and UT Cards,

Children’s unequal use of digital technology – the nuanced role of (socioeconomic) context

A contribution by Leo Röhlke

Television, digital devices, and the Internet have been part of our lives for a considerable time. Their relevance continues to grow, and there is no indication that this trend will slow down soon. Since the advent of television, families worldwide have grappled with common questions, such as:

  • When should children begin consuming screen media?
  • What constitutes suitable content for children, and how much screen time is appropriate?
  • What are the consequences of unsupervised technology use by children?
  • Can children develop technology “addiction”?
  • What educational value can children derive from their use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)?
Picture of a family with video game controllers.
credit: pexels | ketu subiyanto

New developments and ambiguities

During the 2010s, three interconnected developments have increased the significance of such questions for families: First, the introduction of portable touchscreen devices has enabled children to engage with ICTs long before they acquire reading and writing skills. These mobile devices can be used in various settings, both inside and outside the home, such as in the backseat of a car, at a restaurant, or in a waiting room.

Second, an explosion in the development of learning applications and software for all age groups has greatly expanded the opportunities for children’s educational ICT use. This growth offers nearly limitless possibilities for accessing tailored content to suit individual needs. Third, both the educational and occupational systems increasingly require (and foster) the use of ICTs. In combination with ICT-related societal debates (e.g., around fake news), there has emerged a widely accepted social imperative for young people to become “digitally literate”.

As many qualitative studies have reported, parents often perceive high pressure around their children’s ICT use. Calls for fostering children’s digital literacy clash with moral panics around screen time and the dangers of social media and the Internet. Given these ambiguities and the increased salience of the issue, it is an exciting endeavor to investigate the different ways in which children use ICTs. In a way, such differences represent the answers that families give to the questions raised above, given the different contexts and circumstances that they are confronted with.

Boys fixing a computer.
credit: pexels | cottonbro studio

Children’s ICT (non-)use and their social context

Families are unequal, and so are their incorporations of technology into children’s lives. This contribution draws on recently collected survey data from Switzerland, a technologically advanced and wealthy country, where access barriers to ICT (the primary-level digital divide) have largely vanished. My research is focused on middle childhood (7-10 years).

In my exploration of the diverse types of ICT usage among Swiss 8-year-old children, a significant portion falls into the category of non-users. These children have limited interaction with ICTs beyond watching television. Are they simply late starters? To some extent, yes.

However, what makes them intriguing is that their circumstances differ significantly from the other children in my study: Their parents are more critical towards technology, less confident about their digital abilities and they own fewer digital devices. Importantly, the latter cannot be attributed to socioeconomic factors, as non-users tend to come from more, not less advantaged backgrounds. An interesting observation is that non-users frequently tend to be the oldest siblings. This suggests that how children grow up regarding ICTs is determined by a complex combination of influences.

Mother and son in front of a computer.
credit: Julia M. Cameron

Embracing new opportunities

In Switzerland, there appears to be a second group of children who embrace educational usage, while exploring the large diversity of use opportunities of digital media: They use learning apps and games, but also try out video calls, or take pictures and videos. Can these children be expected to be the digital elite of tomorrow? At least these children are mostly from very well-educated backgrounds, and their parents themselves are very confident about their own digital skills and optimistic about the educational opportunities of technology use for their children.

Finally, a relatively small group of children can be considered heavy users. They heavily engage with games and entertainment activities, but also with educational apps or games. Again, this use type is strongly related to children’s broader social context. Their parents are often low-educated, and they are less likely to pursue structured leisure activities, like attending sports clubs.

Mother and child lying in bed with an iPad.
credit: pexels | Nicola Barts

Complex technologies, complex inequalities

An interesting takeaway from a social inequality perspective is this: Yes, socioeconomic background matters, in making certain patterns of ICT use more likely. Regarding the use of educational apps and games, these differences resemble the patterns we have been observing in the past: Children in advantaged contexts tend to play video games less, watch more educational TV, and are more likely to use the computer to support schoolwork. However, when we only look at families with highly educated parents, there are very different ways of children’s ICT use, even on a very general level.

Beyond the digital divide

After the dismantling of most access barriers (the “primary-level digital divide”), the non-use of technology among pre-adolescent children has apparently changed from affecting the less privileged to being a matter of privilege. Arguably, this voluntary disengagement from ICT up to a certain age is in line with a larger development in the 21st century: Since (almost) everybody is connected all the time, being able to disconnect, either from time to time or in this case, up to a certain age, represents the new privilege.

Finally, children’s different ways of using ICT across all levels of parental education mirror the ambiguities around them: There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach in sight, and families lack the unambiguous expert guidance that they may sometimes wish for. Consequently, even the most advantaged families apply different strategies that work best in their individual circumstances.

To what extent these patterns hold for other geographical and societal contexts, remains to be studied. Swiss children tend to start very late with technology use in comparison to children in other countries. In any case, the world that today’s children grow up in is a world full of technology. How to prepare children best for life in this world is a difficult question, and the answers that families as the primary socialization institution give to that question, are fascinatingly varied. Whether certain answers will pay off more for children’s future educational and occupational outcomes, is an important research question to be addressed in the future.

Author’s bio

Leo Röhlke is a Ph.D. student (Sociology) at the University of Bern, Switzerland. In his dissertation, he studies social inequalities in young people’s use of ICT, with a special emphasis on education and learning. As a member of the DigiPrim research team he investigates the ongoing digitalization of Swiss primary schools. He has previously worked on issues of family and educational sociology, with a focus on socioeconomic inequalities.

child drawing from an iPad.
credit: pexels | John MarK Smith


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Bli kjent med Signe vår nye masterstudent i Belong

Portrettbilde av Signe Sveen Andresen
credit: Signe Sveen Andresen

Hvem er du?

Jeg heter Signe Sveen Andresen, er 25 år og utdannet sykepleier siden 2021. Nå studerer jeg master i helsevitenskap, studieretning helsesykepleie ved OsloMet. Jeg blir ferdig utdannet helsesykepleier til jul 2023, og skal skrive masteroppgave våren 2024. Ved siden av studier tar jeg ekstravakter som sykepleier ved Oslo Universitetssykehus. 

Hva skal du skrive masteroppgave om, og når skal den leveres? 

Jeg skal skrive masteroppgave om helsesykepleiers rolle i fremming av skoletilhørighet blant skolebarn oppvokst i lavinntektsfamilier. Jeg skal intervjue helsesykepleiere som arbeider i skolehelsetjenesten i bydeler i Oslo med høy andel lavinntektsfamilier, om hvordan de arbeider med å fremme skoletilhørighet og å forebygge utenforskap. Masteroppgaven skal leveres i mai/juni 2024.

Hvorfor ble du interessert i temaet? 

Under helsesykepleierstudiet har vi hatt mye fokus på sosial ulikhet i helse som en utfordring for folkehelsen i Norge. Særlig innad i Oslo er ulikhetene store over korte avstander. Betydningen av dette fremkommer blant annet i årets folkehelsemelding som har utjevning av sosiale ulikheter i helse som formål, samt i årets helsesykepleierkongress med tema «barn som vokser opp i lavinntektsfamilier».  

Sosiale ulikheter i helse knytter seg til sosioøkonomiske forskjeller der de med høy utdanning og høy inntekt statistisk sett har bedre helse enn de med lav utdanning og lav inntekt. Det er også kjent at sosial ulikhet ofte går «i arv» og øker risikoen for psykiske plager og utenforskap. Skolen er i flere tilfeller utpekt som en viktig arena for utjevning av sosiale ulikheter, og her mener jeg at helsesykepleiere som arbeider i skolehelsetjenesten kan ha en avgjørende rolle. Helsesykepleiere arbeier helsefremmende og forebyggende rettet mot barn og ungdom, og fremming av skoletilhørighet vil være en sentral del av dette arbeidet. 

Når jeg sier «tilhørighet», hva tenker du på da? 

Jeg knytter det til det psykososiale og tenker umiddelbart på det å føle seg «hjemme», samt å oppleve å være en del av et fellesskap hvor man har en betydningsfull plass.