As the youngest of five children, I don’t recall a great deal of regulation surrounding my use of media and devices. I don’t think I was ever allowed to watch TV in the mornings before primary school, but that’s mainly because my brother and I would mess around for too long and there wouldn’t be enough time. The Simpsons was fairly off limits, but not because of the content, simply because my mum thought it was a stupid show and didn’t want to have to watch it. Dad on the other hand loved the Simpsons, so if we were home with dad and mum wasn’t around to watch TV, there was no stopping us. Our afternoons were generally spent playing but we would often watch TV as well, as I don’t recall our TV hours being restricted.
At school, games and certain websites were blocked, so our access was fairly restricted. As I got older, I began using the Internet at home; by the age of 10 I was using MSN to chat with friends who I’d just spent all day with at school. I suppose my time on the internet was regulated as our computer was in a communal area of the home and shared between three, so my hours were restricted. When I was in year eight, I got my own laptop which lived in my bedroom so I think it’s fair to say from this point onwards – there was no regulating my online activity.
I suppose it varies from family to family and depends on the setting – home, school, friend’s place – as to how our media consumption and use of devices is regulated. Today with the strong presence of technology and numerous devices making access to media so much easier, it is even more difficult to regulate children’s access to, and use of, media and devices. The age at which children are getting their first mobile phone and access social media sites, seems to be getting younger and younger. My 10 year old niece for example, has her own Facebook account, Instagram and mobile phone – who knows what else! I do know however, that when she first created a Facebook account, she wasn’t allowed to use it, unless under the watchful eye of mum. I assume now that she has her own mobile, things have changed but I say her time on the computer and access to applications would be regulated to a certain extent.
I believe it is important to regulate children’s access to social media and other online platforms as the Internet can be a dangerous place for young, vulnerable people. Furthermore, I think it is important for children to have mobile phones for emergencies and safety reasons, however I think while still in primary school, mobile phone use should be regulated. With over 12million Australians now owning a smartphone (ACMA 2014), children with these phones have the potential to access anything at anytime. When I was in primary school, my brother and I would share a mobile, however there were regulations surrounding its use; it was only for emergencies.
Whilst I strongly believe in regulating children’s use of devices and media access, I also think they deserve some privacy and it is important to know the boundaries. A new app available on android and iPhone, TeenSafe, enables parents to monitor their child’s text messages (even those that have been deleted), Facebook and Instagram activity, without their child even knowing! Although How Life Works (2014) talks up the new app, claiming ‘TeenSafe could be your way to safely and anonymously observe them [your child] without being a helicopter parent. Gee, because I’d much rather my parents sneaking around behind my back and stalking my activity as opposed to actually talking to me about my decision.
In my opinion, these kinds of measures are taking regulation of children’s access and use of media and devices too far. It makes me uncomfortable, its an invasion of privacy and I just think it’s wrong. Let me know what you think. Do you think parents and guardians need more applications and tools to monitor and help regulate their children’s access and use of the media and their personal devices?
ACMA Editor 2014, m-Commerce: Mobile transactions in Australia, Research Snapshots, blog post, 24th June, viewed 8th September 2014, <http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/Research-snapshots/m-Commerce-Mobile-transactions-in-Australia>>.
How Life Works 2014, How to Spy on Your Kid’s iPhone or Android Text Messages, How Life Works, viewed 28th September 2014, <http://www.howlifeworks.com/technology/How_to_Monitor_Teens_Online_and_Texting_Activity_to_Keep_Them_Safe_701?ag_id=1236&wid=F14D5522-75BB-43C6-BA84-97B07EAB380D&did=132&cid=1005&si_id=4569&pubs_source=mpt&pubs_campaign=20140430-1236>.