Black Mirror 4.2. Arkangel


Values: helicopter parents

Episode 4.2 starts with a scene from a delivery room. There, Maria Sabrell awaits the birth of her child. The expectant mother already knows that it is a cesarean section. The birth proceeds as far as the circumstances are normal. The child already in the world, the umbilical cord cuts BUT no sound. The mother experiences the most terrible moments of her life. Only after a “felt eternity” does the daughter start writing Sara. All are happy.

Maybe it was this birthing experience that made the mother even more anxious about the child’s well-being. What is inevitable happened – Sara gets lost at the children’s playground. Again the same situation as at birth. Mom is experiencing great anxiety. And again, as at birth: the child is found again shortly thereafter.

Mama Sabrell decides to get the new service “ArkAngel”. This service helps parents supervise their offspring. The parents therefore always know where the child is. So similar services with GPS, there are already today. Less in children, but very common in pets. Other monitoring tools such as baby monitors have become an integral part of a Western-oriented household.

But ArkAngel can do a lot more. These include: Biotracer, pixelation of dangerous images and the look through the eyes of the child. This service is currently in pilot phase – this is also said to the mother and she accepts it. For the actual operation of the digital “watchdog” two measures are required. On the one hand, a sensor must be injected into the brain of the little Sara and on the other hand, the mother gets a tablet from which she can retrieve the individual services. Equipped with these two instruments, a completely new life begins for them. For example, the biting neighbor dog or bleeding is pixelated. Sara is thus freed from any formidable situation. In the course of growing up violent videos and porn are also being pixelated. In the schoolyard, Sara has become an outsider in the meantime, because she does not know about the current topics of the young people. Everything that was somehow threatening, her mother has somehow pixelated.

During her childhood and adolescence Sara develops a completely different picture of reality than all other children have. Parents who restrict their children so much do not do any good either because it changes the personality structure in such a way that social development is restricted. It is therefore a very narrow degree walk for parents what they allow their children and what prohibit. In addition, this limit is not stable, but must also change dynamically with the development of the child.

The mobile and TV ban is not a solution. Especially not when the parents live this almost addictive. What ArkAngel does in any case is the presentation of a healthy world, which in reality does not exist. Sara is therefore hardly able to lead an independent life. An essential educational task is to introduce children to responsibility and independent decisions. In order to do that, they need to know the social as well as the digital environment in order to be able to move around in it. Using the example of Facebook, it is very obvious that if teachers recommend to students “do not use Facebook”, then that is the completely wrong approach – the children will do it anyway and are not prepared for the possible dangers. Responsible teachers use social media themselves, gaining experience and sharing it with children.

ArkAngel permanently monitors vital data such as heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, respiratory rate, etc. and immediately alerts parents when something is wrong. Even the smallest deviations are communicated to the parents. It comes again as it must come. Sara falls in love and masters her first sexual contact, exactly as she heard it on Youtube (she could not see anything). But who could see what was her mother. She really looked at this first time. Because the worried mom but knew that the daughter took no contraceptives, she gave the young woman secretly the pill afterwards. The next day Sara gets so bad that she visits her doctor. This then confirms that the pill then works even after she has vomited. Sara does not know anything anymore. Only after a long time of thinking and putting together the individual puzzles does she suspect her mother and question her. It comes to blows and the daughter then pulls out and is traveling by car. Exactly what Mom always wanted to prevent, has now occurred. The ArkAngel system has since been banned by the government.


Guardians referred to as “helicopter parents” have exaggerated needs in the following subjects:

  1. Safety: Parents always want to know where their offspring are. Ideally, the smartphone displays the location. What is still understandable in small children, but is impossible with young people. This behavior breaks any trust. Children can not experience the world for themselves and experience dangers first-hand. Every human being must have experienced at least once that he has lost his way somewhere.
  2. Healing world: Of course, all parents want to protect the child from dangers. It does not matter if it’s physical or psychological. In a society in which there is hardly any violence, the dangers mainly exist in the psychic. Children should only see porn when they are educated, and right-wing extremist films only when they have completed the subject of political education. For a long time, parents can keep the awfulness of the world away from the child. However, the longer they delay this moment, the more brutally the child gets caught.
  3. Performance: Efficiency in a capitalistic consumer-oriented society is the ups and downs. Anyone who does not make any money does not earn money and thus only has a very, very small share of their consumption. That’s exactly what the parents do not want, but it should be the children better. In Asian countries, the pressure to perform starts at the kindergarten age. That’s not so far in Europe. Approaches dbzgl. but are recognizable. The own child must have the better grades, if that is not, will be helped in various places.
  4. Pill after: This is metaphorical and does not refer to unwanted pregnancies. If children ever make a nonsense, then the parents would like to iron out this again and best undo it again. This sometimes costs money, possibly a lot of money. But it can also be provided through relationships or other reputations.

I have experienced some of it myself. In particular, when I bought a used motorcycle, I needed my father’s help. For a much too high purchase price, I got a Schrott value vehicle. The father had it fixed – I got my money back. In my early youth, I spent a whole day traveling with playmates, without which my parents knew about it or falling into a stream as a non-swimmer was already violent. My school performance was very poor. The teacher told my dad that I should learn a simple non-technical profession because my mathematical talent was just too bad. Nevertheless, I have become a grown man who can handle life so halfway – at least so far.

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