A complaint investigation about a daycare that offered webcam monitoring to parents caused us to consider the prevalence of high tech surveillance tools in the day-to-day lives of children. Specifically, we wondered how technical surveillance might affect kids’ feelings about privacy.
To gain some insight into this issue, we examined current research on the effects of surveillance on children and youth. The resulting paper is Surveillance technologies and children.
The research we examined raised questions about the potential effects of surveillance on children’s social development in the long term, particularly as it pertains to children’s feelings of trust and autonomy. Some research suggested that persistent surveillance could even result in children not knowing how to establish their own privacy, or recognize the privacy of others.
But it seems that this area is only beginning to be studied. We would like to see more research being done on this subject, taking into account children of different age groups and varying levels of surveillance. Having more information about how surveillance impacts children’s attitudes, life skills, moral development, and sense of privacy would help parents find the appropriate balance between protecting their children and respecting their children’s need for independence and privacy. It might also focus more attention on those who track our children for less altruistic purposes, like for profit.
Have a read, and let us know in the comments: Do you think surveillance of children has an impact on their long-term development? We would love to hear from you.