One of the first things to do when considering GPS tracking or any other type of monitoring is to ask yourself a few questions. Would you feel safer knowing your parents are watching you? Do you think young people can experience freedom while being tracked? It is certainly not the easy answer, and it depends a lot on your and child's situation. We have compiled a list of comments by parents and teenagers on the topic.
“I am on the edge with this idea it will do some good but it can also do harm it could make the child feel like the parent(s) do not trust them but the parent(s) could always know were the child is if they get hurt or kidnapped but that is just my opinion” - Genaviun
“My primary reaction to this article is that parents should not track their kids, unless their kid is very young or often causes major problems. Instead of doubting their kids, parents and caregivers should establish a sense of trust with their kid. I don’t think there is a specific age to when a child should be tracked because every kid grows up different. Some children become responsible way before other children do. In a way, I do see tracking as being a way to keep kids safe because their parents would know if their kid left the place they were supposed to be at, but this could ruin the relationship they have. If my parents were constantly tracking me, I would automatically assume they didn’t trust me, and I feel like this would lead to even more problems. In the article, an increase of anxiety in children is mentioned, and I honestly think part of it has to do with their relationship with their parents. Majority of parents have a way to track their kids, and this lack of trust in a relationship could lead to anxious thoughts, which no child or teenager wants. My parents don't have a way to track me, but my dad tracked me once. For some reason, my dad requested my location when I was in Atlanta with my brother. I still feel weird about, but this has never happened again. Normally, they text me when they want to know where I am, and I'm okay with that. They give me freedom, while I let them know I'm safe. To me, this is how a healthy and trusting relationship looks like.” - Mira P
“While I agree it’s important for kids to have freedom to make their own decisions while they are young, and part of learning responsibility is being able to decide what to do and when to do it. Although I don't think having your child's location is being a helicopter parent. It all depends on the parents mindset. I think kids should have the freedom to go where they want, and have space to have social interaction, but with a safety net. I think this is a matter of safety, while kids are given the freedom to experience life, that net keeps them safe from things like kidnapping, getting stranded, etc. If something bad happens, there's a chance your parent having your location could be why you make it home. Most importantly, the parent needs to use this as a method of safety and not as an abuse of power. But it also depends on the kids. If they are angry at an authoritarian parent and try to punish them by acting out, sharing location is just going to make things worse. The child needs to trust their parent in having the best intentions for them. This can be solved in one of two ways: having a talk with your child about the reasons behind needing their location, or having built an equal healthy relationship with them, so they don’t doubt this request as anything but for their interest. If there is trust between parent and child, then the relationship is benefitted by sharing.” - Emily Whiteside
“I have concluded that it is okay to track your child at certain times, but not all the time. For example, if your child goes someplace in public, then it is okay to track them. If your child is abducted or goes missing, we can track their phone, notify the police, and find their location. Although we feel that there is a limit to how often parents track their children. If a parent is tracking their child 24/7 and is constantly wanting to know their whereabouts, then the child will feel controlled and won’t want to do anything or go anywhere knowing that their parents are tracking their every move. We believe that there should be a good boundary between the child's safety and privacy. Although if your parents do track you, know that it's for the best and that they want to protect you.” - Tyler
“I think this article missed a lot of reasons why parents want trackers. Only a vague comment from one dad and his “lizard brain” doesn’t accurately reflect a lot of parenting situations. The reality is a lot of children live in ‘non-traditional’ settings or between more than one home due to shared custody. These issues were not as common 50 years ago as they are today. Also, the reality is that if a child is abducted it is usually from a relative. For me, it’s not an issue of trusting my kids (which I do), it’s not trusting adults. My ex-husband lost all custody and visitation of my children when he was convicted of child abuse. I worry that he will try to take my children when he gets out of prison in a few months. A GPS tracker will let me give my children the freedom they deserve/need without me hovering over them constantly once he is released. If they ever go missing, I will use it with the aid of law enforcement, to find them. Unfortunately, situations like mine are not unique. I feel like this perspective was missed when this article was written. I look forward to a response from the writer to navigate keeping children safe in these types of scenarios while not negatively affecting them.” - Paula
“@Paula you bring up a lot of great points that I hadn't thought of. It is hard for me to consider the parents point of view in things like this as I am only a teenager. I feel like in cases of child abduction because trackers on watches or apps have become so prevalent disabling or destroying that would be one of the first thing done. Also wouldn't relatives be extra aware that the child has these devices. Are you kids aware of the device and its purpose? Do you think not telling kids they exist and only using them for emergencies could be a solution for the negative development effects?” - Sabine Sarefield, block 2
“For this, I feel there are two sides to it and some pros and cons. For parents, it is an easy way to know exactly where their child is and what they are doing if they are worrying about where they are and what they are doing. For teenagers on the other hand it is an invasion of privacy with their parents knowing exactly where they are at an given moment. Given I have parents that constantly have to know what I am doing (Checking what sites I use, apps, time limit etc.) tracking children where they are is an invasion of their privacy, but on the other hand, it can save them in an emergency situation.” - Matthew O
“I believe that parents and caregivers should use GPS devices to track their children. I believe that these trackers are beneficial to parents because these allow parents to see where their child is at all times, making sure that they are not out somewhere where they are not supposed to be, as well as to know if something bad happened to the child. This would be especially necessary in circumstances where the neighborhood, city or country, is dangerous. In circumstances like this, I’m sure the child would also want their parents to know where they are. Some kids or teens may consider them “uncool,” but in my opinion, a child who acknowledges their dependence upon their parents, as well as the legal authority of that which has been placed over them, is quite the opposite. As long as the child is going places on their own and is under 18 years of age, then I believe that parents should be tracking their kids. They do make kids and teenagers more responsible and accountable, due to the fact that their parents will know if they went somewhere where they were not supposed to go, therefore, the kids and teenagers would be more inclined to do the right thing. In regards to the comfort of the child, unless they are willingly disobeying their parents, there is nothing for them to worry about. I believe that as long as a parent does not prevent their child from any and all forms of discomfort, then I don’t see how simply knowing where they are can hinder their development.” - Estevan Vasquez
“I believe that parents should not track their children because it shows distrust and it is a breach of their privacy. However, I do understand tracking children that are still very young (13 under) because they are at the risk of dangers that they can not protect themselves from. overprotective parents often develop a socially untrained child which is not a good thing for their mental health or their future. being sheltered from everything prevents them from experiencing life and learning and adapting to their surroundings, All of these are necessary to be successful later in life. Another downside to tracking children is that it shows the parents' distrust toward them and it could take a toll on their mental health. knowing that their parents don't trust them can be extremely annoying and causes a constant stress every time the children go outside. So in conclusion, I believe that tracking children is not fair to them and only should be done if they are under a certain age in which they cannot protect themselves from the dangers of the world yet, because it shows the parents' distrust and it is a breach of their privacy.” - Parsa
“Parents shouldn’t track their children because it makes kids get the wrong impression of what the tracking is actually for. Tracking can be beneficial to parents of young kids but at a certain age they become more invasive of kids privacy. Yes, I think if your a younger child in elementary school your parents have the right to track their kids to make sure they’re safe, however once the kids get older there is no point to trackers. Trackers don’t keep the kids safe, instead it provides the parents with a sense of security. These make kids more likely to test the boundaries of they’re parents because it makes them feel like their being limited. The downsides to this is the relationship between parent and child may be flawed because the kid doesn’t think their parents trust them.” - Brooke McAllister
“Having the ability to track your child has nothing to do with trust but everything to do with safety. I trust my children; however, anyone at any age can have something happen to them and a cell phone tracker lets people who love them figure out their last location. My children and my best friend have the ability to track me as well! I share my location because I want to be found if something happens to me! This is very personal to me because my mother was murdered when I was young and it took months for her to be found. Again tracking has nothing to do with trust but everything to do with safety”- Heather G
“I feel like tracking your children is a great idea if you were ages 12 and under only because many of these teens are very irresponsible and tend to lie to their parents a lot. When you are teen then I don't think parents should put a tracking device on you because we tend to mature by this age and I feel like we deserve to have the freedom we deserve. Our parents should already have trust in us whether we go one place or another, tracking your children at an older age is just completely wrong. For example lying to your parents can become a problem when being tracked because it can lead to teenagers lying more when going out because you already know your parents will not let you go out if they are strict and this leads to a bad relationship with parents. Parents should learn that teenagers later in life are going to be independent and there won’t be any tracking devices when you go to college or any other place you want to go study. However, this tracking device can be useful for many reasons as well, an example of this is obviously safety reasons and also the ability to be tracked wherever you go and be safe. This tracking device can come in hand if something worth happened to you and your parents can just use the tracking device in order to track you and contact whoever they need to contact to try and save you. These are some of the reasons on why tracking devices are a good idea and bad but there are still many more.” - Jesus
“When it comes to parents tracking their children, I feel that it should only be allowed to a certain extent. It is understandable for a parent to want their child's location for safety concerns but when it comes to a point of stalking and obsessing it is unacceptable. Parents need to learn to trust their children and give them the piece of mind and freedom of not being tracked by the minute. Many kids get anxious knowing that their location is constantly being watched. This sometimes causes them to rebel against their parents by finding alternative ways to get away with being somewhere they're not supposed to be by either lying and manipulating or finding tricks to alter their locations on their phones. From personal experience, my parents obsess over my location on a daily basis. This has not made me feel safer, I just feel violated because it has created lots of family conflict and trust issues. It has gotten to a point where safety doesn't seem like the main use of tracking me, they are more concerned about knowing everything that I do. Overall, I feel as if tracking children can become toxic for both parties and can cause lack of trust in a child and parents relationship. Tracking a child's location should only be for safety concerns over nosiness so that kids nor adults have to ruin their relationship with one another.” - Mahsa Shavalian
*Read more at source (NYT: Should Parents Track Their Children)
It is quite evident that children tracking is a difficult topic with many opinions, but the bottom line is that if you decide to use such devices, it is essential to use it in an appropriate manner. There is a thin line between worried parents and invasion of child privacy and consequential break of trust. So if you decide to use such a solution make sure to discuss it with your kid. We certainly do not recommend using tracking devices for children older than 11, except in the case of autism or self harmful behavior. This is also evident from numerous comments on NY times article, as older teenagers perceive tracking as lack of trust.
This decision is not easy, and as with many things in life it depends on the application and your specific situation. If you are interested in more about the topic, you are always welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.