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Norway: Do we need «Total Control»? Discussing GPS tracking of kids with parents and in schools

Do we need «Total Control»? Discussing GPS tracking of kids with parents and in schools

  • Awareness
  • 16/12/2015
  • Norwegian Safer Internet Centre

Many parents engage in surveillance of their kids with GPS and apps, but do parents really need total control on their kids' whereabouts and online activities? This topic receives a lot of discussion and media coverage. The Norwegian Media Authority (NMA) wants parents and children to debate this – both separately and together.

Several Norwegian media have recently addressed the issue of child tracking and surveillance, and there are currently a variety of products designed for this purpose. According to a survey by TNS Gallup, ordered by The Norwegian Board of Technology and The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (NDPA), many adults are positive towards this kind of tracking – especially when used to track children below the age of 12 and adolescents who go out by themselves at night. The NDPA and The Ombudsman for Children remain sceptical to this development, emphasising that children also have a right to privacy. The Norwegian Media Authority (NMA) shares this point of view, and hopes that a subject adapted discussion plan can bring this debate out of the media and into people's homes and schools:
"The need for tracking usually arises from a desire to protect", says Barbro Hardersen, project manager at the Norwegian Safer Internet Centre. "However, children and adolescents too have a right to freedom of speech and privacy, both online and otherwise. These are subjects we wish to illustrate with the revitalisation of the discussion plan: Total Control".
For teaching, parent-teacher conferences and theme nights
The discussion plan made by the NMA is meant for parents and pupils between sixth and tenth grade (ages 11-15). The content focuses on children's rights to freedom of speech and privacy versus their rights to protection.
"We know that children's use of the internet and cell phones can be a source of conflict at home," says Hardersen. "While parents want to take care of and protect their children, many children feel as if they are under surveillance and control". Hardersen therefore thinks it is wise and important that parents and children discuss these matters – both separately and together, to find acceptable and sensible limits. "Bringing this dialogue into homes and schools to create awareness of these issues is the right way to go in order to achieve a safer digital everyday life," she adds.
«Total Control?»
Is a discussion plan for parents and students grades 6-10. It consists of a short film that can be viewed on YouTube, as well as a written guide to how the plan can be executed. The plan concerns four subjects related to children and their use of internet and cell phones: GPS-tracking, private messages, friending your kids in social media and checking logs. The execution should take approximately 15 to 45 minutes. The guide exists in both Norwegian and English, and can be downloaded from NMA's website. 
The Norwegian edition also exists in print that both parents and schools ae welcome to order from the NMA. The resource is also shared and made available through the BIK portal.
Find out more about the work of the Norwegian Safer Internet Centre here.