Family First NZ is welcoming a product that enables parents to monitor their child’s cellphone and texting use, and says that their protection is more important than privacy or so-called ‘rights’.
“Text bullying, the availability of offensive and risque mobile phone games and applications, and the use of mobile phones as the new ‘bike sheds’ are major concerns for both young people and parents,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Parents are already monitoring their children, and so they should. A survey of parents in 2010 found that nearly a third regularly check text messages on children’s mobile phones. This product will simply aid parents in protecting and monitoring their children.”
A UK survey found that more than a third of secondary school children have been sent messages containing sexual content. Girls were being bullied into taking, and sharing, explicit pictures of themselves.
Dr Emma Bond, an expert in childhood and youth studies at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich, whose conclusions were published in the international journal New Media and Society, said adults ‘need to take our heads out of the sand’ about what is happening to young, impressionable children. ‘The research shows how children are using mobile phones in obtaining sexual material, developing their sexual identities and in their intimate relationships with each other’.
“Text and online bullying can be more psychologically savage than schoolyard bullying because of the anonymity and absence of face-to-face contact,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“It is essential that we prevent children from getting access to pornography and sexually explicit material. It is essential that we do all we can to protect children from being bullied, and monitor whether they’re the ones doing the bullying. But with the cheap cost of phones, the accessibility to the internet, and the difficulty for parents to monitor such small devices which are easily hidden, the job has got that much harder,”
“Of course children have rights – the right to be protected by their parents.”