Kamentez’s article discusses issues of digital rights that extend far beyond the children of India. Topics such as digital literacy, the responsibility of video game designers, age restrictions on major platforms such as YouTube, and the role of both schools and parents when it comes to raising children in the digital age provide a meaningful look at the world of new media.
When looking at the outline of children’s digital rights, such as the right to removal, knowledge, safety, informed use, and digital literacy, I can’t help but wonder about the extension of these rights to adults. Persuasive design elements such as “‘nudges’ and ‘dark patterns’” are incredibly manipulative and play a major role in developing an addiction to our devices. Creating a universal awareness when it comes to platforms we interact with every day is vital. Education remains one of the greatest tools when it comes to creating empowerment.
With this, comes the question of whether or not the creators of these platforms should be held responsible for their side effects. On one hand, if a game is designed to be so immersive (ie. addictive) that players unknowingly put themselves in danger, should the designers of the game be responsible for their deaths? Is it the responsibility of the creators of the devices themselves? The people that use them?
We knowingly partake in this culture and we accept the cycles that come with them. The contradiction of YouTube being for ages 13 and older while marketing themselves as the best replacement for Saturday morning cartoons isn’t being kept a secret from anyone. We know the dangers of smoking but we still buy cigarettes. We know the dangers of eating fast food, not getting enough exercise, spending all day on Netflix, and being glued to our devices, and yet- we remain glued to our own personal ‘cigarettes’.
The article makes an argument that posing some restrictions on content would benefit everyone. Who gets to decide what’s appropriate? Where do our own responsibilities begin and end? It’s the same in schools, with monitoring bathroom visits and sending instant behavioral updates to parents, there are no explained boundaries. Can parents opt-in or deny their child being monitored?
I can’t help but think of my own family. My parents encouraged my independence from an incredibly young age and I owe a lot of my current success to it. But if I were to be a child now, my mom would absolutely hate getting little notifications about my day at school. When I was growing up, this was what family dinners were for. And while these conversations are important to have, it remains more vital than ever to be sure that a child’s digital rights needs to include their choice to step away from the screen.