In the age of smartphones and the internet, the word tracking is often thrown around, most notably by parents. Constantly knowing the location of loved ones is no longer science fiction, but a reassuring reality.
There are now countless ways for parents to know their children’s’ whereabouts, whether it be consensual or not. This is because minors of all ages use and carry smartphones with GPS capabilities. In fact, one in every six parents track their children, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
The obvious reason parents track their children is to make sure they stick to their plans. This could mean verifying the child’s activities or preventing them from doing anything irresponsible and going places they shouldn’t.
Tracking can be a very beneficial tool for both parties. Great peace of mind is afforded to parents when they can see that their child is at the right location. Whenever any worry or doubt comes to their mind, they can simply open up the tracker app and see the little dot representing their child. This is a great alternative to the hassle of exchanging texts or calls back and forth confirming safety, details and location–and eliminates any temptation for deceit.
GPS tracking greatly simplifies the process of picking up one’s child from an unfamiliar location. Providing confusing directions and many texts describing the area can become a nightmare, whereas a simple check of the GPS location can accomplish most of the task in one fell swoop.
In the extremely rare case of a kidnapping, tracking has the potential to save a life. This has happened numerous times, such as in 2016 when the Pennsylvania State Police was able to locate an 18-year-old kidnapping victim using her mother’s tracking app. Even if the phone does not stay with the child, the unmoving location can clue in parents that something is wrong. Additionally, the site where the phone is lost can be a valuable clue.
However, the child still deserves a reasonable amount of privacy. Tracking should be consensual and respectful, not behind the child’s back. Tracking without consent should only be done in dire circumstances; when parents have serious concerns about their child’s behavior.
Some argue that any tracking at all strips away independence and does not prepare a teen for adulthood. However, these teens are exactly that: teens. They are not adults and may need guidance and supervision to prevent them from making poor decisions that may carry on into their adulthood.
They also need an additional layer of safety and security because of their age and inexperience. No teen ever knows when they’re going to find themselves in a dangerous situation. When it happens, they’ll definitely regret not taking the time to simply share their location.
Quality of life–safety, responsibility, peace of mind–is dramatically improved with tracking. As long as it is respectful and consensual, tracking is a beneficial practice.