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MANN: How far would you take ‘spying’ to protect your children?

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January 11, 2018 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


I think most parents would do anything to keep their children safe.

A few nights ago I watched an episode of Black Mirror. I’ve heard the name for some time now, but I hadn’t gotten around to actually sitting down and watching any of the science fiction anthology series.

My husband turned it on and I decided I would watch for five minutes before heading down to bed (sleep is a sought-after commodity in my life).

Five minutes turned into having to see the whole thing through.

*Spoiler alert — several in fact.

The episode was titled Arkangel — Arkangel is a implanted chip technology, giving parents a way to monitor their children’s whereabouts and observe important ‘levels’ in their bodies, such as iron and cortisol (a steroid hormone).

Imagine being able to not only know what your child is up to 24/7, but also use an iPad (or equivalent) to ‘see’ your child’s point of view of the world and have insight into what is upsetting them.

After single mother Marie loses her daughter Sara momentarily while at a playground, she opts to have the chip technology Arkangel implanted into Sara’s head.

At first it seems too good to be true. Marie can sleep easier knowing her daughter is safe and Sara is none the wiser. I mean clearly Sara knows something had been implanted in her head, but she doesn’t realize how unique her situation is.

The technology even has the capability to ‘fuzz out’ anything that may cause Sara any kind of distress. For example, instead of being afraid of the dog she has to walk by on her way to school every day, her mother is able to almost turn the vision of the dog into tiny pixels, nothing more than a blur of colour.

As the episode progresses, Marie comes to the realization that even with good intentions, her daughter is suffering in several ways. She is ostracized by her peers, and even becomes desensitized due to her lack of experiences.

Finally Marie decides she has to turn off the technology to give Sara a fair shot, and things improve…until Sara goes missing once again years later.

I won’t let you know how it ends, but what’s that expression… “Everything comes full circle.”

Parenting technology (and safety technology in general) is already advancing and IS always advancing to keep up with new threats, threats to our children — threats we haven’t even considered yet.

Whether it is programs for monitoring Internet usage, GPS watches or insisting children ‘check in’ via text message when they arrive wherever it is they are supposed to arrive, we are giving helicopter parenting a whole new set of standards, but it is a good thing or a bad thing?

A part of me applauded Marie for taking action to protect the love of her life, but I know there are fragile lines involving trust and privacy with our children and what can be said for personal autonomy?

Is Arkangel a glimpse of what’s to come, already happening, or part of a science fiction series because it is, for the time being, simply science fiction?

— Becky Mann is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking. She knows there is so much more to come and is looking forward to the continued adventure.


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