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Morality of restraint; Parents use technology to curb use of technology

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Design by Grace Summers

Design by Grace Summers

Design by Grace Summers

Chloe Aikman, Staff Writer

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On July 27, 2016, Apple reached a corporate milestone.

On that day, Apple released a statement that it had recently sold the one billionth iPhone – and as CEO Tim Cook would later comment in an interview with The Verge, “it’s become more than a constant companion.”

Almost two years later, the effects are visible. Tangible even. Cook could not have been more apt in his description, or rather, his prediction.

This “billionth” product is only a sliver of context; it does nothing to predict the amount of Samsung, Vivo, Oppo or other smartphone alternatives circulating the globe nor does it include other Apple products, like iPads.

With this in mind, a conclusion can be drawn, the nature of which is simple: one billion phones then mean more than one billion users now and as more and more people plug into the network at increasingly younger ages, our lives continue to become more entwined with these pocket-sized rectangles.

Simply mentioning these facts will inspire many to jump to their favorite associated social ills – texting and driving, superficiality of the modern-day relationship and a decline in the quality of human interaction are only a few.

However, excessive cell phone usage has the ability to pose a problem of a completely different sort: parenting. Evidence? The iOS App Store.

Type in a few keywords and prepare to scroll, because a myriad of apps has been released on this platform with the same intention – allowing parents to monitor their child’s access to the internet, social media, and mobile games. This speaks to an issue that’s been plaguing all users, for it appears that the human race is having a difficult time saying “no” and it’s transferring to our kids.

One of the most popular solutions marketed today, out the many options attempting to handle this problem, is an app called SCREEN TIME. By creating an account, parents have the ability to limit usage of certain apps, access search history, create tasks for kids to do and “reward” their children with extra screen time.

It’s all the micro-managing of parenting, but without the troublesome interaction. Use an app to stop others from using apps. SCREEN TIME even has a function so children won’t be able to uninstall it.

How quaint.

While there may be situations where these measures are justified, and even necessary for the health of a household, this feels like the wrong approach.

Resorting to outside infrastructure in order to prevent children from using their phones seems to miss the objective, for one would assume that the goal is to teach a child the skills that will enable them to monitor themselves.

These apps seem result driven- a quick fix for parents who are tired of seeing their child’s eyes glued to a screen but it’s missing the self-development. Once the strict guidelines are removed, who knows if the child will revert back to their old habits in the vacuum of restriction.

Concern over the time spent time “plugged in” is a valid worry but the approach of the apps themselves may be concerning as well. Excessive monitoring of a child (with all its good intentions) has been proven to be psychologically damaging; children who had overly-controlling parents have been found to score lower on surveys measuring happiness and general wellbeing well into their adult life, according to experts at University College London.

Apps like these may keep kids off their phones now, but nothing will change the lingering feeling of being watched from their psyche.

So why can’t parenting involve a conversation – a mutual respect in which parents teach children skills instead of implementing a third-party solution? Why is the incentive system baked into these apps turning screen time into a reward?

Being able to responsibly manage one’s time is a skill that’s importance will only increase as technology continues to compete for our attention, each new feature on each new model seducing the public with its novelty wrapping and tempting possibilities.

Which leaves us with the real questions: why are we denying these skills to our youth – why do refuse to equip the heirs to the future with the tools to success?

Why are we so afraid of self-restraint?

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Morality of restraint; Parents use technology to curb use of technology