Examining Parent Versus Child Reviews of Parental Control Apps on Google Play

  • Turki AlelyaniEmail author
  • Arup Kumar Ghosh
  • Larry Moralez
  • Shion Guha
  • Pamela Wisniewski
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11579)


Mobile devices have become a ubiquitous means for teens and younger children to access the internet and social media. Such pervasive access affords many benefits but also exposes children to potential online risks, including cyberbullying, exposure to explicit content, and sexual solicitations. Parents who are concerned about their children’s online safety may use parental control apps to monitor, manage, and curate their children’s online access and mobile activities. This creates tension between the privacy rights and interests of children versus the legal, emotional, and moral imperatives of parents seeking to protect their children from online risks. To better understand the unique perspectives of parents and children, we conducted an analysis of 29,272 reviews of 52 different parental control apps from the Google Play store. We found that reviews written by parents differed statistically from those written by children such that it is possible to computationally automate the process of differentiating between them. Furthermore, latent themes emerged from the reviews that revealed the complexities and tensions in parent-child relationships as mediated by parental control app use. Natural Language Processing (NLP) revealed that the underlying themes within the reviews went beyond a description of the app, its features or performance and more towards an expression of the relationship between parents and teens as mediated through parental control apps. These insights can be used to improve parental control app design, and therefore the user experience of both parents and children.


Privacy Parental control apps User reviews Computational analysis Classification Parent-child relationships Google Play 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Turki Alelyani
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arup Kumar Ghosh
    • 2
  • Larry Moralez
    • 2
  • Shion Guha
    • 3
  • Pamela Wisniewski
    • 2
  1. 1.Stevens Institute of TechnologyHobokenUSA
  2. 2.University of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  3. 3.Marquette University MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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