May 152015
 

In light of recent news and conversations about training and monitoring kids’ use of cellphones, I was interested to read this report about South Korea. YoukYung Lee of AP reports:

Lee Chang-june can be miles from his 12-year-old son but still know when he plays a smartphone game. With the press of an app he can see his son’s phone activity, disable apps or totally shut down the smartphone.

The app, “Smart Sheriff,” was funded by the South Korean government primarily to block access to pornography and other offensive content online. But its features go well beyond that.

Smart Sheriff and at least 14 other apps allow parents to monitor how long their kids use their smartphones, how many times they use apps and which websites they visit. Some send a child’s location data to parents and issue an alert when a child searches keywords such as “suicide,” ”pregnancy” and “bully” or receives messages with those words.

Does that go too far, though? Could it, as some argue,  infringe too far on privacy and free speech? Could it produce a generation inured to intrusive surveillance?

“It is the same as installing a surveillance camera in teenagers’ smartphones,” said Kim Kha Yeun, a general counsel at Open Net Korea, a nonprofit organization that is appealing the regulator’s ordinance to South Korea’s Constitutional Court. “We are going to raise people who are accustomed to surveillance.”

Yeun may not be exaggerating. I didn’t know this but:

South Korea’s telecoms regulator has taken the sweeping step of legalizing the broad collection of personal, sensitive data that belongs to teenagers without any public consultation or consideration of the possible consequences.

“South Korea underestimated the chilling effect,” said Kang Jeong-Soo, director at Institute for the Digital Society.

Okay, that is concerning. Now we have the government collecting information/potentially spying on youth’s online activities. It’s one issue as a parenting issue. It’s  another issue when it’s the government collecting information, and I do hope organizations in South Korea are able to get that overturned.

But from a parenting perspective, how much monitoring is appropriate at different ages, or do we say it’s never appropriate? We could take the position that it depends on the individual child, of course, but then, how many parents really have no idea what their child is up to?

Read more on The State Journal.

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