Through the Zoom window: how children use virtual technologies to navigate power dynamics in research

Hannah Fechtel, Sienna Ruiz, Julie Spray, Erika Waters, James Shepperd, Jean Hunleth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual technologies gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic for use in research, including research with children. As scholarship from the field of science, technology and society (STS) suggests, technologies are never neutral, but embedded with social values and, as such, used by people to navigate identities and relationships. Building on childhood studies research that has shown how children appropriate and use research tools, this article asks: How do child research participants use this virtual ‘window’ into their homes and their lives? Using observations from a virtual and in-person study in the United States, we show how children used virtual technologies to manage relationships, filter what researchers saw of their lives, and navigate issues of privacy and self-disclosure. We conclude that analysing children’s interactions with research technologies offers important indicators to guide researchers attending to ethical issues of power for both in-person and virtual research with children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • qualitative health research
  • research with children
  • Science, technology and society (STS)
  • virtual methodologies
  • zoom interviewing


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