How Class Matters: Examining Working-Class Children’s Home Technology Environments From a Developmental Perspective

Vikki Katz, Brianna Hightower


Social class is seldom engaged by scholars as a lens for investigating variations in children’s digital technology engagement. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 33 working-class children in a postindustrial community, we examine how social class shapes these children’s digital technology experiences. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of child development guides our examination of children’s views on digital technology integration into their interactions with proximal influences (i.e., parents, siblings, and friends) and distal influences that indirectly shape their technology environments by affecting their parents’ circumstances. We find that working-class children’s experiences share key commonalities with both their lower- and higher-income peers, consistent with prior research. But we also uncover aspects of children’s technology experiences that are distinctively working-class. These include parents’ prioritization of raising self-sufficient children, including expecting children to self-regulate their technology use and exposure to online content.


children, technology environments, social class, working class, child development

Full Text: