Keeping an eye on your kids technologically
I recently came across an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about a new GPS watch designed for kids that enables their parents to track their every move.
The watch, which is called TicTocTrack enables parents “to monitor every movement their children make hoping to give them a semblance of independence while not compromising their safety.” The watch can be clipped to a child’s school bag or put in their pocket and is not designed to replace parental supervision. The watch comes with an SOS button and is aimed for primary school aged children, not old enough for a mobile phone.
While the watch and other child safety apps designed with a similar purpose and their features sounds good in theory, is it good for either party? The parent knows they can track their child and the child knows they are being watched, does that mean that a healthy relationship of trust is being formed? The simple answer would be no, but the real answer would be it is complicated.
I can understand and imagine a parent’s need to want to know where their children are every minute, they are the most precious things to them in the world, and there wouldn’t be a day or a second where they go without worrying about them. This watch isn’t the only thing they can use to track them, over the years, formidable apps have developed with the same purpose, some even help authorities if their kids go missing. A lot of things can happen to children in this world, which parents would want to protect them from and rightly so, but does that justify tracking them? I’m not a parent, so I don’t feel that I can answer that question entirely, but based on my experience with my own parents giving me small doses of independence when needed and when necessary at certain ages, I don’t think so. At some point you have to let go. I think there is a dangerous addiction that could develop for parents in that they might still be monitoring their children in their teens with this device, I mean where would it end?
The child’s side of it all is the fact that they know they are being watched and would be anxious about what they can and can’t do knowing that. There is also the question of whether a child truly experiences the baby steps of independence they will need to experience, to be able to cope in adulthood, if they are being tracked every minute. I don’t think they are. There might be some children who take comfort in knowing that their parents know where they are and there is nothing wrong with that, but then there is the issue of whether the child will be able to let go and be independent. In some cases, the child might not be able to let go and the parent can.
Technology and parenting can be a dangerous combination. Technology can make parenting and growing up a lot easier than in the past, however I think this situation is going a little too far. That being said, if I ever have children, which if I do, I will probably have them anywhere between five to fifteen years from now, at that time tracking kids technologically may become a normal part of parenting rather than an absurdity. I hope not, but you never know.
Only time will tell.
This article was originally published on Tech Reviewer on 24 May 2014 and can be found here.