Parental Mediation, YouTube’s Networked Public, and the “Baby-iPad” Encounter: Mobilizing Digital Dexterity

  • Darshana Jayemanne
  • Bjorn Nansen
Keywords: digital dexterity, parental mediation, mobilizations, YouTube, networked publics


This study collected a sample of YouTube videos in which parents recorded their young children utilizing mobile touch-screen devices. Focusing on the videos that received the greatest number of views and comments, the paper analyzes the ways in which babies’ “digital dexterity” is coded and understood in terms of contested notions of “naturalness” and the ways in which the display of these capabilities are produced for a networked public. This reading of the “baby-iPad encounter” helps expand existing scholarly concepts such as parental mediation and technology domestication. Recruiting several theoretical frameworks, the paper seeks to go beyond concerns of mobile devices and immobile children by analyzing children’s digital dexterity not only as a kind of mobility but also as a set of reciprocal mobilizations that work across domestic, virtual, and publically networked spaces.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2016.0006

Author Biographies

Darshana Jayemanne

Darshana Jayemanne is a researcher at Abertay University. His work has examined temporality and performance in video games, narrative form in navigable media, and the contemporary “post-digital” environment of distributed computing devices. His work has appeared in Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, Fibreculture, and The Refractory Journal.

Bjorn Nansen

Bjorn Nansen is a lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a member of the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces. He researches digital media and communications technologies, computer interaction, and network culture in the contexts of household, family, and everyday life. Utilizing a range of ethnographic, online, and visual research methods, his work focuses on technology adoption and use/non-use, home media environments, young children’s digital culture, mobile and tangible media, and interface studies. He currently holds an Australian Research Council–funded Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to study young children’s use of mobile and interactive media.

How to Cite
Jayemanne, D., & Nansen, B. (2016). Parental Mediation, YouTube’s Networked Public, and the “Baby-iPad” Encounter: Mobilizing Digital Dexterity. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 8(1). Retrieved from
Articles for Special Issue on Mobility