Pry­ing par­ents use apps to keep an eye on kids

Phone mon­i­tor­ing apps flour­ish in South Korea 手機監控程式在南韓蓬勃發展

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Lee Chang-june can be miles from his 12-year-old son but still know when he plays a smart­phone game. With the press of an app he can see his son's phone ac­tiv­ity, dis­able apps or to­tally shut down the smart­phone. The app, "Smart Sher­iff," was funded by the South Korean gov­ern­ment pri­mar­ily to block ac­cess to of­fen­sive con­tent on­line. Smart Sher­iff and at least 14 other apps al­low par­ents to mon­i­tor how long their kids use their smartphones, how many times they use apps and which web­sites they visit. Some send a child's lo­ca­tion data to par­ents and is­sue an alert when a child searches key­words such as "sui­cide," "preg­nancy" and "bully" or re­ceives mes­sages with those words. In South Korea, the apps have been down­loaded at least 480,000 times. The na­tion's Korea Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion re­quired tele­coms com­pa­nies and par­ents to en­sure Smart Sher­iff or one of the other mon­i­tor­ing apps is in­stalled when any­one aged 18 years or un­der gets a new smart­phone.

Many coun­tries have safety fil­ter­ing tools for the In­ter­net but it is rare to en­force them by law. Ja­pan en­acted a sim­i­lar law in 2009 but un­like South Korea it al­lows par­ents to opt out. But cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts and In­ter­net ad­vo­cacy groups ar­gue the mon­i­tor­ing in­fringes too far on pri­vacy and free speech. Some warn it will pro­duce a gen­er­a­tion in­ured to in­tru­sive sur­veil­lance.

South Korea, one of the Asia's rich­est na­tions, is criss­crossed by cheap fast In­ter­net and smart­phone use is ubiq­ui­tous. Many Kore­ans get their first smart­phone when they are young. Eight out of 10 South Kore­ans aged 18 and be­low own a smart­phone, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment data. Some 72 per­cent of el­e­men­tary school stu­dents owned a smart­phone in 2013, a huge jump from 20 per­cent in 2011. How tech­nol­ogy is af­fect­ing the young has be­come a na­tional ob­ses­sion. The gov­ern­ment and par­ent groups have pushed nu­mer­ous ini­tia­tives to limit de­vice and In­ter­net use as well as pre­vent ex­ces­sive gam­ing. Many par­ents wel­come the abil­ity to peer in­side their chil­dren's on­line world.

Lee, who worked in the on­line game in­dus­try for nearly a decade, said that hav­ing con­trol over his son's smart­phone has been pos­i­tive and in­creased dia­logue in the fam­ily. His son plays a mo­bile game for about two hours on week­ends. If he wants to play a mo­bile game out­side those hours, he comes up to dad and talks about why. "What is im­por­tant is that par­ents and chil­dren talk to each other and try to build con­sen­sus. He is only in sixth grade but he wants to have his pri­vacy," Lee said. "I told him: We are in­stalling this and fa­ther will know which app you use," he said. "I see it as pos­i­tive in help­ing nur­ture his habit of self-con­trol."

To get around the reg­u­la­tions, some stu­dents say they will wait un­til they turn 19 to get a new phone. "I'd rather not buy a phone," said Paik Hyun­suk, 17. "It's vi­o­la­tion of stu­dents' pri­vacy and op­press­ing free­dom." Cho Jae­hyun, 17, had to in­stall a parental con­trol app when he was in mid­dle school. But he said he was lucky that his par­ents agreed to unin­stall the app when he en­tered high school. "We don't al­ways use the smart­phone for some­thing bad," said Cho. "Be­cause I could use my phone freely with­out con­trol, I got in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing iPhone games."

李昌俊可能離他十二歲的兒子好幾哩遠,但他仍知道兒子是否正在用智慧型手機玩遊戲。他能透過程式了解他的兒子正在用智慧型手機做什麼,也能刪除程式,或者直接將手機關機。這款名為「聰明警官」的程式主要由南韓政府出資研發,目的是為了阻絕網路上不雅的內容,而包含這款程式在內,還有至少十四種程式可以讓父母親監控孩子使用智慧型手機的時間、開啟程式的頻率和上了哪些網站。某些程式還能將小孩的位置傳給父母,也能在小孩搜尋「自殺」、「懷孕」和「霸凌」等關鍵字,或者收到含有這些字眼的相關訊息時,發送警示訊息給家長。在南韓,這些程式的下載次數已經達到至少四十八萬次。南韓通訊傳播委員會要求電信公司和家長,當未滿十八歲的小孩購買智慧型手機時,要確保他們的手機中安裝了「聰明警官」或其他監控程式。

許多國家都有網路安全過濾工具,但鮮有國家訂定法律強制執行。日本在二○○九年頒布了一條相似的法律,但與南韓不同的是,日本讓家長可以自由選擇是否採用。不過,網路安全專家和網路倡導團體認為,這些監控程式嚴重侵犯了隱私權和言論自由,且有些人警告,這些監控程式將會培養出習慣被侵入性監視的世代。

身為亞洲最富裕國家之一的南韓擁有便宜而快速的網路,且智慧型手機的使用相當普及,許多韓國人在年紀很小的時候就已經擁有智慧型手機。根據政府的數據,每十個十八歲(含)以下的少年中,就有八人有智慧型手機。二○一三年,約有七成二的小學生有智慧型手機,比二○一一年大幅上升了兩成。南韓上下都在熱烈討論科技如何影響年輕一代,政府和家長團體更推動多項提議,以規範電子產品和網路的使用情形,同時也防止孩子過量玩遊戲。許多家長更是希望可以窺視孩子在網路世界的一舉一動。

在線上遊戲產業工作將近十年的李昌俊表示,監控兒子的智慧型手機有正面的效應,同時也增加了家人之間對話的機會。他的兒子週末時玩手機遊戲的時間約為兩個小時,若他想繼續玩,就得去找爸爸說明原因。李昌俊說:「重要的是父母和小孩開啟對話,並試著建立共識。他才六年級,但他希望擁有隱私權。」李昌俊告訴兒子:「我們會安裝這個程式,爸爸會知道你在使用什麼程式。」他也表示:「我認為這種監控程式有助於培養兒子的自律行為。」

某些學生表示,為了逃避父母的監控,他們會等到十九歲時再買手機。十七歲的白玄書說:「我寧願不買手機,監控程式根本侵犯了學生的隱私,也壓迫了我們的自由。」十七歲的趙澤玄就讀國中時,手機就被安裝了監控程式,但他說自己很幸運,因為父母在他上高中後,就同意刪除這個程式。趙澤玄說:「我們不會老是用手機來做壞事。因為我可以在不被監控的情形下自由使用手機,所以我對開發iPhone 遊戲產生了興趣。」

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