Here’s Why I Stopped Tracking My Kid
My son has had a phone for about a year, and like most parents with a mobile-equipped child - I am terrified. Giving him access to everything and everyone in the world totally freaks me out, and it should. That little portal that allows him pull in any type of information conceivable is a two-way street. That is to say, information about him can be pulled through it also. That's unnerving to put it lightly.
When he was a baby, he had a GPS tracker on him at all times. When we gave him a phone at 10 years old, I installed an app that basically did the same thing. After reading an article recently from the Times Union - I am having to re-think my approach.
On one hand, knowing (through technological means) my kids exact coordinates is a reassuring tool in my fight to keep him safe. On the other, Joel Michael Reynolds of the University of Massachusetts Lowell brings up some pretty solid concerns.
First off, what if there is a data leak? They happen all the time, even to companies we assume have their digital security together. Banks, credit-card companies, etc. have been compromised by bumbling employees and super-savvy hackers alike, spilling our valuable and private data details into the hands of criminals just waiting to run up a tab in our name. What if some one else was able to track my child, someone with more sinister intentions? Someone getting a credit card in his name is the best case scenario if this happened. If it told me where he was, it would do the same for them.
Secondly, companies are offering these apps for little or no-cost because they are tracking my child for profit. The trade off is this: Sure, they will let me know where he is at all times, but they will also let Huffy know when he is most likely riding his bike so they can show him (and us) more new bike ads. Repeat that process over and over ad infinitum, and it gets to be a bit intrusive. Plus, who wants a billion pop-ups?
Lastly, and this just makes me sad - it could break our trust. My son is transitioning into a young man. I find myself astonished by his developing morals, responsibility, humor, and more - all signs that he is no longer my "little" boy. Our relationship is transitioning, too. I trust him more and more, and I truly believe he can and will make the right decisions when it counts. However, I still want to rush in and treat him like my baby from time to time, and this does hurt him. At some point (in the future) I will have to trust him completely, or risk harming our relationship.
So, I have deleted the digital trackers. It wasn't easy, but I believe it's the best choice. For now, I'll have to rely on trusting my son's word. Also, my binoculars, telephoto lens camera, and some disguises I have accumulated over the years.