Focus Groups With Children: Practicalities and Methodological Insights




groups, children, moderator, ethics, pre-school, primary school children, prompts, digital technology


The assessments of adults are important in the study of the interests and needs of children, but children themselves should also be viewed as competent informants. Social research methodologies have typically been developed for use with adults, and children might challenge underlying assumptions. Particular demands are placed on research design and researchers when researching children, owing to their different needs and abilities. Although children are involved in a growing number of research projects, methodological considerations around their inclusion have been rarely explicated.

In a European study on digital devices in the lives of children, we planned and conducted focus groups with preschool (5-6 years of age) and primary school children (8-10 years of age). In this contribution, we share our initial rationales and methodologically reflect on our experiences in order to derive recommendations for conducting focus groups with young children. We concentrate on the setting, formal structure of the schedule, moderator behavior, group dynamic and age differences, skills, and ethical implications. We conclude by outlining strengths and weaknesses of employing focus groups with young children.


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Author Biographies

Susanne Vogl, Universität Stuttgart

Susanne VOGL is a professor of sociology at the University of Stuttgart with a focus on research methods. Her research agenda is centered on improving existing methods in social sciences and further developing techniques and methods. Based on her aim to contribute to a more inclusive research practice, she develops integrative strategies for data collection and methods of analysis. Her substantive fields of research include the sociology of deviance, children and young people, family, and life course.

Eva-Maria Schmidt, Universität Wien

Eva-Maria SCHMIDT is a sociologist and ethnologist and works as a senior researcher at the University of Vienna, at the Department of Sociology and at the Austrian Institute for Family Studies (OIF). She researches and publishes on the topics of unpaid and paid work, parental leave organization, gender roles, parenthood and social norms, intergenerational relationships in families as well as non-marital cohabitation, with a focus on qualitative-reconstructive survey and analysis methods.

Olaf Kapella, Universität Wien

Olaf KAPELLA is a social pedagogue and research coordinator at the Austrian Institute for Family Studies. His research interests include strategic family research in an international context, evaluation research (e.g., family policy measures or child and youth welfare), violence research, men's studies and the development of comprehensive models of sexual education. He has been research coordinator at the Austrian Institute for Family Studies (OIF) since 2006. In addition to his work at the OIF, he works as a counselor in a funded family counseling center, focusing on men's and sexual counseling as well as violence and prevention.


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How to Cite

Vogl, S., Schmidt, E.-M., & Kapella, O. (2023). Focus Groups With Children: Practicalities and Methodological Insights. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 24(2).