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How far do you watch your children? Advice from a psychologist


Tracking watches, secret microphones… let them live! The opinion of Vanessa Lalo, psychologist specializing in digital uses.

Apple AirTag, "Locate" on iPhone, tracking watches... Geolocation apps and gadgets are multiplying: millions of parents use them all over the world.

A sharply rising trend, linked to parental anxiety.

“We have the feeling of living in a more dangerous world… whereas it is simply more anxiety-provoking, because of the non-stop surge of various facts on the news channels continuously”, module Vanessa Lalo, clinical psychologist, specialist digital uses.

So, what should we think of these tools?

Read also Brooding to the extreme, in lack of clean air: the phenomenon of “indoor children”

Private life

They should be used sparingly.

A child can only build himself if he has a “secret space”, inaccessible to his parents.

Recently, rights advocate Claire Hédon raised concerns about the erasure of children's privacy.

“In the 1950s, notes Vanessa Lalo, children had 10 km of autonomy.

Today, they only have 1 km, which does not really encourage them to grow.

In video, what are the impacts of screens on children's brains?

scopic drive

What is called the "scopic drive" (the desire to see everything, to know everything) is insatiable.

Suffice to say that geolocation cannot completely meet the desire for parental control… In addition, the tools come up against the principle of reality: the battery can fall flat or the child can linger with a friend on the sidewalk.

The main concern is educational: it does not facilitate the child's accession to autonomy.

“A child who is overly supervised can develop anxiety, even start lying to preserve his share of freedom, analyzes Vanessa Lalo.

The real educational gesture would be to teach children how to find their way in the real world, how to protect themselves and avoid dangers…”

Choose transparency

If geolocation is used, it must be done transparently.

From 7-8 years old, when they start to go out in the street, even to make the trip to school, we can ask them what they think about it – if that could reassure them.

And we, adults, are being offered to be geolocatable as well.

The tool is important: if the telephone with a geolocation app is an acceptable process, the watch dedicated to tracking is ethically suspect, as is the Findmykids app, which allows you to activate your child's microphone remotely, or Ourpact, which takes screenshots of children's internet activity…

A child who is overly supervised can develop anxiety, or even start lying to preserve his share of freedom.

Vanessa Lalo, psychologist

give them a hand

To maintain the educational aspect, and above all not to break mutual trust, the child can be asked to have control of the app, to activate it when he leaves for school and when he returns.

From 14-15 years old, if the teenager accepts the principle of being watched by his parents, why not?

But he must have the right to degeolocate at any time.

"In any case, a young person will always manage to 'forget' his phone or his watch at a friend's house... to preserve his private space.

And this is the

sine qua non

condition for growing.”

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-02-01

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