When we were youngsters, all we wanted were wheelies. But today’s children are a far tech-savvier and more demanding bunch. What children want today are mobile phones, which can be a pretty scary prospect for parents considering all the nastiness that’s out there, from pornography and graphic depictions of violence to cyber-bullying. Tariffic, which collates and compares cellphone contracts in South Africa, has just released a new contract offering called KidTech, aimed at ensuring parents can keep an eye on what their youngsters are doing on their mobile phones.
A KidTech contract includes a Huawei P8 Lite smartphone with a Telkom FreeMe 1GB Top-up contract preloaded with parental control and cyber-monitoring apps, including Kaspersky Safe Kids (for restricting websites, restricting phone access, locating the device, and restricting time access), Keepers (for monitoring messages to identify cyber-bullying or sexually-inappropriate content and behaviour), Google Photos (to provide parents with access to the photos on their child’s device) and a selection of educational games and apps.
Parents will also be able to see all WhatsApp and Messenger chats alongside any images taken with the handset, which should let them nip sexting or other potentially worrisome behaviour in the bud. Of course, it’s a fine line between being a concerned parent and an overprotective one, and there’s an argument to be made for respecting children’s agency and giving them the freedom to make mistakes. Teenagers are unlikely to be thrilled knowing mom and dad are watching their every digital move, but for younger children this sort of visibility and control over their digital lives could be invaluable.
KidTech’s solution uses algorithms that sort through all potential unsafe webpages or other content that includes pornography or violence, or suggest a sexual predators is trying to communicate with your whipper snapper. Of course, it might just take one child-genius to figure out how to hack through the security and firewalls (and flog the solution to their peers), but until then, this is a logical, practical and affordable way to safely monitor your young one’s phone activity.
Now, those TV watchers among you may recognise some similarities between KidTech’s solution and a recent episode of dystopian tech show Black Mirror‘s episode entitled “Arkangel”. In the episode, a child-monitoring system is implanted into children at a young age which gives parents the capability to monitor what their children see and do and where they go. This may sound like an amazing idea, but in typical Black Mirror fashion, we’re quickly shown how it could go terribly wrong.
Black Mirror tends to depict the worst possible outcomes, and we’re not suggesting you keep your children offline or track their every move. That’s not going to make for a happy home environment. As with all things tech, moderation is probably best. We want our children to be comfortable using the latest technology, and we don’t want to limit their social development… but we also don’t want them to have to contend with the predators and weirdos that are certainly out there. Like it or not, mobile phones mean the creeps have direct access to anyone with a smartphone, and children can make for easy targets, unfortunately.
So what do we do? For starters, we talk to our children about the dangers of digital life, and we encourage them to talk to us about anything strange they encounter. Failing which, thanks to solutions like KidTech, we can keep an eye on what they’re doing… hopefully until such time as it doesn’t feel necessary anymore.
To take a look at KidTech’s offerings, head over here.