In a world where devices are designed to be addictive, it’s harder than ever to peel kids away from TikTok, Roblox, YouTube, and the like. Some screen-time rules, though, are too drastic, including one dad’s solution, which ended up having serious consequences for the town of Messanges in southwest France, as reported by Bleeping Computer.
According to a report from the Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR), the French public agency responsible for managing the radioelectric spectrum, the internet in a small town wasn’t functioning between the hours of 12 am and 3 am. After investigating, a technician detected a nearby jamming signal: a device that was transmitting radio waves on the same frequency as mobile devices thus blocking them from connecting to cell towers. Confused as to why the interfering device was only active during the wee hours of the morning, the ANFR vigilante stayed up late and at 1:30 am, tracked down the signal to a house in a neighboring town.
It was too late to confront the homeowner, but the next day, the ANFR sought answers. When confronted, the homeowner admitted to purchasing a jammer online after reading online forums about how to get his teenage kids off the internet at night: a far more drastic approach than confiscating the devices.
According to the report, his children had become addicted to social networks during the pandemic.
Due to the high power level (33dB), the signal jammer was interfering with the cell signal of the entire town. “He seriously disrupted all telephony and mobile internet in the area around his home, depriving not only his children but also his neighbors, the inhabitants of his municipality and the neighboring municipality,” reads the English translation of the French report.
Illegal jammers are a no-go— Because of his possession and use of the illegal jammer, the frustrated father is subject to up to 6 months imprisonment and a €30,000 fine.
Frequency jammers are a serious offense in the U.S., as well. The Federal Communications Commission writes that they “can prevent you and others from making 9-1-1 and other emergency calls and pose serious risks to public safety communications, as well as interfere with other forms of day-to-day communications.” In the past, the FCC has imposed hefty fines on those who violate the rule. In 2013, a truck driver used a GPS jammer to stop his boss from tracking him and accidentally disrupted the Newark airport’s air traffic control systems.
One better screen time solution might be a Kitchen Safe, which locks items in a clear plastic container for a set amount of time.