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“Developing Digital Privacy: Children’s Moral Judgments Concerning Mobile GPS Devices”

Recently in the sister blog:

New technology poses new moral problems for children to consider. We examined whether children deem object tracking with a mobile GPS device to be a property right. In three experiments, 329 children (4-10 years) and adults were asked whether it is acceptable to track the location of either one’s own or another person’s possessions using a mobile GPS device. Young children, like adults, viewed object tracking as relatively more acceptable for owners than nonowners. However, whereas adults expressed negative evaluations of someone tracking another person’s possessions, young children expressed positive evaluations of this behavior. These divergent moral judgments of digital tracking at different ages have profound implications for how concepts of digital privacy develop and for the digital security of children.

Video here.


  1. Anoneuoid says:

    Did they control for farting during the experiment? The smell of farts has been proved to significantly affect moral judgement. However, this was only shown in adults and not children afaik. So more farting in the children group may have paradoxically made them less morally judgemental.

  2. Al says:

    I’m very curious how Andrew would’ve analyzed these data, or how the Results section(s) of the paper would have looked like if he wrote the paper.

  3. Children are in a position where their well-being is provided for by caregivers. Their ability to make good decisions about things is limited by both their mental development and their relative lack of experience or knowledge about how the world works. It would make perfect sense for children to want the benevolent caregivers to have tools to do a better job of caregiving. If, on the other hand, you interviewed children who were long-time victims of abusive caregivers I assume you would get very very different moral assessments.

    Adults on the other hand are generally responsible for themselves, and any person GPS tracking their belongings would probably be doing it for nefarious purposes, so they would clearly have reason to disbelieve that it was a good thing to let others track their belongings.

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