Limiting screen time is a neverending battle most parents fight. Kids love their screens, (and let’s face it, adults do too – I love you iPhone!)
From schoolwork to video games to social media, our kids spend a lot of time staring at their screens. Often too much time.
Policing it gets exhausting. And for one dad from France, he had had enough.
In a desperate attempt to get his kids offline, one dad cut off his internet. With one tiny, unexpected side effect: he shut it down for his entire town.
Look, I get it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. When I first heard about this, all I could think was, “Meh, I can’t say I blame him.”
However, apparently, it is a BIG deal to authorities. The stunt has landed him in hot water. He is facing real jail time and a huge fine for flipping the switch.
The unnamed dad, who lives in Messanges (a small beach town in Southwestern France) inadvertently blocked internet and cell phone access for several nights.
The poor guy just wanted to get his presumably sleep-deprived “social media addicted” kids off their devices between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.
According to media outlet France Bleu, the dad purchased a multi-band wave jammer in the hopes that it would do the trick.
And boy, did it ever. Not only did it shut down the cell phone and internet service in his own house, but it also blitzed it in all of his neighbors’ houses too.
In fact, it worked so well, it disrupted telecommunications across two municipalities.
For those non-techy people, a jammer is a signal blocking device. It stops devices from communicating with their source by mimicking the same frequencies. When this happens, reception is blocked and calls, texts, and Wifi are disabled.
They were originally created for use by the military in electronic warfare.
They also just so happen to be illegal in France (and the U.S. so don’t get any crazy ideas).
France Bleu reports that a mobile telephone operator kept getting alerts that one of its antennas no longer worked at night between midnight and 3 am.
A technician from ANFR, the national frequency agency that manages all radio frequencies in France, was eventually sent out to investigate.
Using a “fully equipped laboratory vehicle” capable of detecting “hostile waves,” it didn’t take long to discover the offending source.
The technician ended up right outside the dad’s door.
Apparently, the dad had been plugging in the jammer every night, thinking he was only cutting off the Wifi and cell service in his own home.
Apparently, he was mistaken.
France Bleu reports:
“Every night, he, therefore, plugged in this jammer, thinking to cut the telecommunications in only his house.
Except that devices of this type often have a “wider radius of action than one thinks or than the seller suggests,” explains the ANFR on its website.”
Seems this one had a radius covering a heck of a lot more than 1500 square feet.
Jammers are strictly prohibited in France.
An investigation has been opened against the father and he faces up to six months in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros ($33,000 USD).
A steep price to pay just to get his kids off of social media.
The thing is, I get where this dad was coming from. Screen addiction is real.
It’s hard enough for adults to put down their devices. To stop mindlessly scrolling. To stop going down the endless rabbit holes of TikTok and Youtube. Nevermind kids.
Are there other, less illegal avenues this dad could have pursued? Sure. He could have just taken away his kids’ devices at night.
But who knows, maybe he tried that. Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe he was just really, really tired of trying to get his kids to unplug and go to sleep already.
Whatever his reasoning for going to the lengths he did, one thing is clear, should you find yourself in the same situation, using a jammer is a BAD idea. Let this be a lesson for us all.
As for the dad, I hope he’s granted leniency. And that he and his kids can find a better solution that doesn’t involve plunging his neighbors into the dark ages.