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Digital Controllers

Paradoxical use of digital technologies

How these families viewed the internet might seem paradoxical. On the one hand they were motivated to access leisure and entertainment opportunities online, while on the other hand, their cultural values worked counter to being online. They carried out necessary tasks online, and free time online was considered a luxury and often used as a disciplinary tool.

Culture of Digital Technology Use

Device time was often rationed but this was not elusively due to economic constraints. Withholding or limiting access to the internet was itself a mechanism to enforce cultural values such as being present in family rather than being accessible to others outside their family and community. Parents monitored children's internet interactions to guard against online risks such as bullying and crime.

Social media was extremely important to maintain social bonds with extended family but was not used to widen personal networks that might bring other capital benefits.

As a social or informational resource, the internet offered few opportunities to endorse their cultural values.

These families were more likely to have smartphone access to the internet. The absence of quality computers worked against any in-depth learning experiences online. This combined with a poor level of IT expertise,limited access to institutional IT support, and limited time online resulted in lower levels of digital knowhow, confidence and motivation to use digital technologies in ways that might build digital capital.


There was little mobilization of existing capital online. In viewing digital technology as largely scarcity and a luxury, online activities were random rather than purposeful.

Economic and social constraints resulted in limited opportunities for in-depth learning or engagement online, and consequently limited opportunities to build digital capital that might improve life circumstances. The one exception to this was their avid use of social media platforms which enabled constant connection to family, and dispersed whanau.

The children in these families aspired to practical, community based, non-digital jobs such as trades, community and personal service work. They tended to think about work in terms of how they might contribute to the safety and well-being of their communities.

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