The Australian government is looking at parental control apps that would allow parents to decide what their children can access in school, but not who can access it, and when, for their children.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the department was looking at the use of apps that let parents manage access to information in the classroom, and to allow them to decide who can use it.
In recent years, many school authorities have implemented mandatory parental controls that prohibit children from using apps to access information on their own.
But a new report from the think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research suggests the government is still considering making parental control mandatory, and that parents are reluctant to have control over what their kids can access.
While there is widespread consensus that there is an increased need for a greater degree of parental control in Australian schools, parents are not enthusiastic about giving up their right to decide on how their children access the internet.
“We believe that children should be able to decide when, where, and how they want to access material and services, regardless of whether parental control is in place,” the report says.
However, the authors of the report also noted that parents do not want their children to use apps or websites that contain pornographic material, or provide inappropriate content or content that they deem inappropriate.
“Some parents want their kids to be able not to be exposed to inappropriate content and material they do not feel comfortable with,” the authors write.
The report suggests that parents should be allowed to restrict access to a range of websites and apps, from apps that allow parents access to schools’ computers and the websites of schools’ administrators, to apps that enable parents to monitor their children’s behaviour.
This would mean parents would be able “to restrict access based on the content and behaviour of their child”.
“While parental control may seem like a simple step in protecting children, it is not without the risk that it could lead to an increase in inappropriate behaviour and potentially a greater risk of harm,” the study authors say.
‘Parents should have a choice’ The authors also acknowledge that parental control has been discussed in the past.
More recently, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has been conducting a review into the potential harms of mandatory parental control.
They say mandatory parental access has been seen as a form of “parental censorship” and “controlling” behaviour in the schools, but do not believe mandatory parental rights should be restricted.
It is also a matter of education policy, not law, that should be decided by the parent, they say.
“The government should be making the decision about whether parental controls should be mandatory, but the parents should have the ability to make that decision,” the researchers write.
The report also points out that the AAP supports a number of other measures, including mandatory parental leave policies, to protect children.
“Parents should be given the opportunity to manage their own child’s school environment and to provide a positive, balanced, and supportive environment for their child,” the AAP says.
“This should not include parental control that requires the parents to make decisions about the content of children’s communications.”
Parental control is a matter for each parent to make for their own children, with the parents’ consent.