On December 1st 2022, Anouk Mols joined a group of nine women to speak during TEDx Amsterdam Women in Theater Amsterdam. In her talk she opened up a conversation about the consequences of monitoring childhood. In digitalized family life, technologies allow parents to monitor live-locations, social media use, and school progress. While such family surveillance practices offer safety, reassurance, and convenience, teenagers also need freedom to grow. How can parents give teenagers privacy and still protect them from risks?
Access codes to a child’s smartphone
Anouk stressed the contrast between her own childhood without digital monitoring and how the current lives of teenagers in her research are interspersed with family surveillance. A raise of hands showed that, also in the audience in Theater Amsterdam, many parents have the access codes to their child’s smartphone. This aligns with the findings of Anouk’s research, wherein parents check their teenagers’ smartphones to make sure they don’t do anything risky.
Constant control: lack of freedom?
Examples from her research were used to show how monitoring tools are used with good intentions but simultaneously limit teenagers’ privacy and opportunities to grow. With constant control, they can lack the freedom to make mistakes and solve these independently, to connect with online friends, and to venture out independently. Anouk asks the audience to consider checking in with their child instead of checking up on their child.
The TEDx talk was recorded and will be available on YouTube in February 2023. More information about the event and the other speakers can be found here.