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Ethical Research Involving Children

To do or not to do: practical and ethical concerns in online research with children and young people during crises.

Khan, M., Spinney, J., & Monsur, M. (2023). To do or not to do: practical and ethical concerns in online research with children and young people during crises. Children’s Geographies, Published Online Ahead of Print, pp. 1-16.

Abstract: This article contributes to an ongoing discussion regarding the ethics of online research involving children and young people (CYP) during crises. The paper critically reflects on our experience of designing, approving and conducting a multi-country study utilising an online diary to investigate how social, physical and virtual conditions shape and are shaped by CYP’s everyday experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our reflections identify four key ethical and practical areas of concern induced by the physical immobility of researchers and the need to research at a distance: (1) the ethics of doing and not doing research in times of crisis and rupture; (2) the digital divide and accessibility of tools; (3) ethical issues induced by institutional safeguarding procedure (e.g. issues of trust and rapport) and how these intersect with digital technologies and online platforms; and (4) the ethical issues that arise from breaching the ‘social contract’ to give voice to those CYPs who have provided data. We conclude that ethical restrictions and academic standards intended to minimise the harm of using online tools during a crisis can instead have the effect of silencing children and young people’s voices. Accordingly, greater consideration and deliberation between researchers and ethics committees are required to find more reflexive ways to conduct research with CYP during crises. (Abstract © Taylor & Francis, reprinted by special permission from Taylor & Francis Group, a division of Informa UK, http://www.tandf.co.uk).

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