Technology and Parental Responsibility: The Case of the V-Chip

TitleTechnology and Parental Responsibility: The Case of the V-Chip
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsFahlquist, NJ, van de Poel, I
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Pagination285 - 300
Date Published6/2012
ISSN Number14715546
Keywordschildren , COMMUNICATION , ENGINEERING , Media Studies , Moral , Parental , Privacy , Privacy and Surveillance , technology , TV , V-chip
AbstractIn this paper, the so-called V-chip is analysed from the perspective of responsibility. The V-chip is a technological tool used by parents, on a voluntary basis, to prevent children from watching violent television content. Since 1997 in the United States, the V-chip is installed in all new televisions sets of 12″ and larger. We are interested in the question whether and how the introduction of the V-chip affects who is to be considered responsible for children. In the debate, it has been argued that the V-chip reduces parents’ responsibility for children, but it has also been argued that it gives parents a tool to exercise their responsibility. It may appear as though all debaters are discussing the same thing and merely have different opinions. However, we argue that there are at least three notions of responsibility underlying these claims and that these should be kept separate. First, arguments on responsibility may refer to responsibility as task distribution. Second, they can refer to responsibility as control. Finally, a thicker concept of parental responsibility understood as a virtue may be referred to. It becomes clear that whereas task distribution changes to some extent and the possibilities for control are increased, only certain parts of parental responsibility as a virtue are affected. The finding that there appear to be different notions of responsibility involved in a debate that prima facie is about one issue, indicates that discussions on other technologies and how they affect responsibility may suffer from the same conceptual lack of clarity.
Short TitleSci Eng Ethics
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