Why we need a moral code to stop warring couples using children’s apps as spying traps

As a parent and a family law expert it is undoubtedly disturbing to hear how apps offering  free video calls on tablets and smartphones are being cited in custody cases by family lawyers who claim they have been misused for “intrusive purposes”.

Exacerbated by the explosion of social networking, the cases include one child giving an estranged father a tour of his former family home, and a mother whose anxiety was sparked by an incessant stream of video calls between her son and her ex-husband on her son’s smartphone.

In our vast experience, we understand that it can be extremely difficult for some divorced parents to ‘let go’ of their past lives and relationships. It is likewise not uncommon for estranged husbands and wives to use their children as ‘information channels’ to find out every nuance of their former spouse’s lifestyle and new partners.

It’s unfortunate that the actions of what we hope are the minority – are spoiling the overarching benefits of the technology which also brings potential downsides including the speed at which videos captured unwittingly can be headlined across Facebook causing severe embarrassment.

In such circumstances when children are given iPads and other applications with video facilities, we recommend introducing a moral code in the form of an overt understanding between separated couples which clarifies the ground rules and prevents the hi-tech presents being used as weapons.

We’d applaud introducing this additional layer because it espouses the deep-rooted principles of the Philosophy of Children Act which encourages parents to put the welfare of the child first. The development would stimulate three way conversations between mother father and child about how the child will use their respective apps.

With up to 150,000 children estimated to be impacted by divorce each year in the UK, a moral code would go some way to stamping out ‘iPad prying’ and progress to iPads being viewed as a healthy and intrinsic part of children’s culture.

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