Why automatic parental controls for minors on smartphones don’t work

Why automatic parental controls for minors on smartphones don’t work

The debate is heated and your questions follow one another. Here I try to summarize my thoughts on the Agcom directive regarding #ParentalControlAutomatico. From 21 November the resolution of the Communications Authority (Agcom) comes into force with the aim of strengthening the protection of minors on the web. Telephone operators will have to include the free service in the new tariff plans.

The illusion of online security

First of all, let’s dispel a myth: it is nothing more than an illusion of security in the digital world.

Imagine entrusting the protection of your children to a wall of paper in a universe populated by youth hackers and virtual dates. Automatic parental controls can be compared to this. Despite starting from good intentions, it fails to recognize reality: our kids, digital natives, find it easy to bypass these filters.

And then there is the black hole of devices registered to parents: the control system becomes useless if the device ends up in the wrong hands. And what about social networks, with their profound influence on children and adolescents? A deafening silence reigns.

Where the danger hides

While cyberspace is full of real dangers, the directive seems to focus on sites of “dubious utility”, neglecting the real dangers, which lurk in instant messaging apps and social networks, fertile grounds for cyberbullying and dangerous online challenges.

What about the constant advertising aimed at minors online that promotes the use of alcohol or nicotine or incites gambling? Shall we leave that one free?

We need a real strategy

So what is needed? Not of an illusory barrier of parental control, but of a robust educational strategy, of an immersion in digital literacy, dialogue and critical awareness. We need to teach our kids to swim, not to be afraid of water.

It’s time to step up the conversation on this issue: automatic parental controls, as they are currently conceived, are not adequate. It’s not the solution, but a distraction. We invest in education, dialogue and digital awareness. We do not opt ​​for the easy way, but we face the complexity.

#DigitalSecurity #DigitalEducation #ConsciousCyberspace

Giuseppe Lavenia, psychologist and psychotherapist, is president of the National Association of Technological Addictions, GAP and Cyberbullying “Di.Te” and professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Polytechnic University of Marche

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