When parents “spy” on their children via the smartwatch

When parents “spy” on their children via the smartwatch

Many parents see a smartwatch as the perfect alternative to a smartphone for their child, especially at the start of secondary school.

The child can make and receive calls from a set of contacts that parents choose, send and receive voice mail, and press an SOS button that alerts parents in an emergency.

But that’s not all. Thanks to a GPS tracker, Mama and Papa can follow the child’s location on their smartphones.

They can also keep tabs on who the child speaks with on the watch phone.

Media experts warn against excessive supervision, however, such as using a smartwatch voice-monitoring feature that allows parents to hear ambient noise without being heard themselves.

“This infringes on the child’s freedom and privacy,” says Kristin Langer, a media coach for a Ger-man group that is backed by the federal government and public broadcasters, that advises parents and teachers on children’s use of digital media.

She says teachers have told her that some parents even listen in on their child’s classes.

“It’s illegal to tap into schools, which aren’t public spaces,” Langer points out, adding that starting school is a step towards independence for a child, and entering secondary school a further step.

“Children who learn that their parents are eavesdropping on them via the watch or reading their chats, or who are questioned, ‘Who were you gabbing with on the corner for 15 minutes,’ feel it to be a major betrayal of trust,” she warns.

Langer recommends that parents configure the smartwatch together with the child and that they jointly decide on the features to be used.

“If the child can confidently use the internet and behave responsibly, he or she can also use a childproofed smartphone,” she says. – dpa

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