Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Complex Online Harms and the Smart Home: A Scoping Review

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Shola OlabodeORCiD, Becca Owens, Nijia Zhang, Dr Jehana Copilah-Ali, Dr Cristina NeeshamORCiD, Dr Lei ShiORCiD, Professor Deborah ChambersORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Technological advances in the smart home have created new opportunities for supporting digital citizens’ well-beingand facilitating their empowerment but have enabled new types of complex online harms to develop. Recent statistics have indicatedthat ‘smart’ technology ownership increases yearly, driven by lower costs and increased accessibility. Research on smart homes hasalso developed, focusing on technology perspectives at the expense of a user-centric approach sensitive to the smart home’s harms,risks, and vulnerabilities.Objective: This scoping review addresses the information gap where there exists a paucity of information regarding the complexonline harms and their relationship to the ‘smart home’ technologies and citizens’ agency.Design: Three online databases were utilised to identify papers published between 2017 and 2022, from which we selected 235publications written in English that addressed harms, risks, vulnerabilities, and agency in the smart home context. By mappingcontemporary literature to identify the existing dearth of knowledge to identify opportunities for further research.Results: This review identified emerging themes of ’risks’, ’vulnerabilities’, and ’harms’ in that order of frequency within theliterature on smart homes. The usage of terms is skewed towards computing science and information security as that comprisedthe majority of the literature at 54.6%, human-computer interaction papers accounted for 24.4%, social sciences at 16.2%, and theminority being in law at 4.8%.Conclusion: Risks, harms and vulnerabilities within smart home ecosystems and IoTs are ongoing issues with complexitiesthat necessitate research. Privacy, security, and well-being are key themes that embody the scope of complex harms affecting smarthome devices in the broad literature. This review establishes disciplinary research gaps, especially in user-centred perspectives, dueto a heavy technology focus in the existing literature. We argue that further research is needed to address emergent risks, harms andvulnerabilities of smart home devices and understand how user agency and autonomy can complement the design, interface andsociotechnical aspects of smart home systems.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Olabode S, Owens R, Zhang N, Copilah-Ali J, Kolomeets M, Wu H, Malviya S, Markeviciute K, Spiliotopoulos T, Neesham C, Shi L, Chambers D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Future Generation Computer Systems

Year: 2023

Volume: 149

Pages: 664-678

Print publication date: 01/12/2023

Online publication date: 18/08/2023

Acceptance date: 14/08/2023

Date deposited: 03/04/2023

ISSN (print): 0167-739X

ISSN (electronic): 1872-7115

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.future.2023.08.019


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name