Parental fear has led to heavy surveillance and the belief that online spying is an imperative to good parenting.
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Safety, together with convenience, appear to be the major selling points for monitoring technologies. In a paper Footnote 15 about Danish parents who enrolled their children in a nursery that allowed webcam access over the Internet, many parents reported feelings of being together with their children, as well as of protecting them.
Outside the home, children are subjected to surveillance by the state. Typically, this is carried out for purposes of control, such as detecting and discouraging anti-social and outside-the-norm behaviour. For example, schools use monitoring tools to prevent absenteeism and cheating on exams. Municipal governments install security cameras to deter vandalism and other forms of crime. Online, children are monitored by companies who want to market to them in a way that maximizes profit.
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Footnote 16 These tracking tools follow children as they surf the Internet and collect data about their behaviour and personal interests which are then used for marketing purposes. Surveillance using technology is a relatively recent phenomenon and there exists only a limited amount of research on its long-term effects on children. At the opposite end of the parenting spectrum are parents who stress independence and freedom to make decisions. Most parents fall somewhere between the extremes of helicopter parenting Footnote 17 and free range parenting.
Footnote 18 The decision whether to monitor children and to what extent is a common parental dilemma. A Globe and Mail article Footnote 19 set out both supporting and opposing arguments about webcams in daycares. A mother who is in favour of such monitoring stated:. The mother opposed to videocams in daycares worried about the negative effects of monitoring for both children and parents. She said:. Most of the research relevant to the topic of surveillance addresses the degree of independence children are given by their parents and how that affects their development.
Trust is fundamental to promoting self-control and healthy development in children, and trust issues are commonly identified by research examining the effects of surveillance on children. Although no supporting research was found, one would imagine that the risk of trust being undermined by intensive surveillance is less of an issue in the case of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, who require intensive parental involvement because they are not developmentally capable of making many decisions for themselves. As children get older, trust can become an issue if parents rely on technology to obtain information about their child rather than speaking with the child directly.
Study participants aged 11 and 12 accepted parental monitoring of their online activities as a necessary precaution because, in their view, the Internet is a dangerous place and any strangers they might encounter are not trustworthy. Teenage participants, on the other hand, resented parental monitoring and most used privacy settings and other methods to block nosy relatives.
The study found that:. In another recent study Footnote 22 of nearly adolescents and their parents, youth who perceived their privacy as being invaded became even more secretive with their parents. When surveillance is interpreted to mean lack of trust, this can result in secrecy and subversion on the part of children and youth, as well as a reluctance to share information with parents. For example, one teen used song lyrics to convey a message to her friends, knowing that her mother would interpret the message in a completely different way.
Tonya Rooney Footnote 24 suggests that surveillance technologies as a substitute for more nuanced discussion and education can have a negative impact on children because the ultimate aim of such technologies is to create a risk free environment. This does not reflect the real world, where we are constantly faced with risks and we must learn how to evaluate and manage risk ourselves in order to function effectively.
According to Dr. Rooney, if parents consistently overestimate and overreact to risk, it is difficult for children to learn how to negotiate an appropriate balance between trust and risk. There is agreement among researchers that surveillance decreases opportunities for children to exercise autonomy and independence. Footnote 26 The caveat here again is that young children require near constant supervision because developmentally they are unable to safely navigate their environment and look after themselves.
According to the paper, surveillance is often experienced by children as a form of control that limits their choices and inhibits their ability to act autonomously. It also serves to direct behaviour through punishment and reward, which means that children will make decisions based on the risk of punishment rather than as a reflection of their values and ethics. When children are directed in their actions, they are denied opportunities to experiment with making critical and ethical choices, leading to lower ability to self-regulate and self-direct their behaviour.
Both Dr. It is perhaps worth exploring whether surveillance technologies can be used in a limited and age-appropriate manner to promote safety and security without the negative impacts on children and youth. Digital literacy is defined as the ability to navigate the online world in an effective and safe way. Proponents of digital literacy such as Howard Rheingold Footnote 28 argue that developing digital literacy skills requires that children have the freedom to learn what information is worthy of their attention.
Organizations like MediaSmarts and the Family Online Safety Institute offer resources aimed at educating and empowering children and youth to make the right choices online. Surveillance in childhood can have a profound effect on understanding privacy later in life. Children learn through experience, and if they do not grow up in an environment where privacy is practiced, they may not learn how privacy works.
If children are not afforded privacy in their home life or their daily lives, they will not know how to appropriately establish and advocate for their own boundaries and privacy or recognize those of others as they become adults. Cory Doctorow, who has long campaigned against the ubiquity of surveillance in the U. To date, the OPC has investigated one complaint involving video surveillance of children or youth. The complaint involved a daycare that had installed webcams in classrooms and made the feed available to parents over the Internet.
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Footnote 31 According to the daycare, it had introduced the webcam service so it could monitor classrooms for security purposes and provide parents with assurances about the classroom environment. The case largely turned on the issue of safeguards.
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The OPC undertook to continue to monitor the issue and conduct further research, which was the impetus for this paper. Surveillance of children and youth has also been addressed in the context of web tracking and profiling. In , the OPC published a policy position on online behavioural advertising Footnote 32 that set out restrictions on the tracking of children. Recognizing that obtaining meaningful consent to tracking from children, especially at a young age, is a great challenge, the OPC advises organizations to avoid knowingly tracking children and tracking on websites aimed at children.
Practices need to correspond to cognitive and emotional development. What is appropriate will also depend on the specific context. Forgot your password? Over the past year, Retina-X Studios has begun to implement steps designed to enhance our security measures which had the positive outcome of restricting data obtained by the hackers in the most recent intrusion. No personal data was accessed, but some photographic material of TeenShield and PhoneSheriff customers has been exposed.
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We will be offering pro-rated refunds to any customers who currently have a contract with Retina-X Studios for these services. If you are an active subscriber of any of these services, you will receive an email from us with information about how to obtain a pro-rated refund and access to your data during this process. Retina-X Studios is sharing information about the illegal hackings and cooperating with the appropriate authorities. The perpetrators of these illegal acts have been motivated by their unfounded opposition to the private activities of parents and employers on devices they own and with the consent of users of the devices.
The perpetrators, who will likely never be identified or brought to justice, have shared their actions with online publications to gain attention. They are cowards who work in the dark and use the media to promote their agenda. Retina-X apologizes to our customers for any inconvenience this situation has caused, but our first priority is to you.
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