While most parents would agree that keeping your child under watch through certain tracking apps to ensure safety is beneficial, parents should also understand the potential risks it may have on their relationship with their children, especially now in the 21st century where almost anything technological can be misleading.
Apart from the level of security a parent may have on their child, utilizing the tracking apps can harm the relationships among family members. In order to develop into a mature adult, children need to be trusted to avoid feelings of insecurity within them. A 2019 study illustrates that monitoring a child can undermine the sense of trust and bonding which is a crucial component to have as it is central for close relationships. In addition to losing trust, most parents do not know the “tricks” that children can do to bypass the app. Since children nowadays are generally more tech-savvy than their parents, many change configurations within the operating system itself to disable certain apps from tracking location and thus revert to a default, such as “home”. According to statistical data that was done, there are over 3.3 billion smartphone users worldwide and 81 percent of them know how to adjust their phone locations. Even if a child isn’t able to turn off these settings, they can easily turn of their location. Thus, rather than keeping children safe, tracking apps may instead deteriorate the trust between family members. Once this trust is broken, children may find it difficult to confide with their parents when problems arise and thus inevitably worsen their situation without guidance.
Additionally, tracking apps promote a common tendency in the 21st century, helicopter parenting. These apps easily place desired power in the hands of parents allowing them to micromanage almost every part of their child’s life. By parents placing an excessive restriction on their children, they strip away their autonomy, almost rendering them as robots. To combat a child’s natural curiosity, they sometimes need to learn the hard way rather than being told “they can’t.” This is the only way to progress among the psychological stages: basing their actions of consequences, then the views of others, and finally morals. What happens when children are no longer under the control of tracking apps? If they were still in their first psychological stage, they may even engage in illegal activity since they never learned morals or the views of others.
Along with the factors of losing trusts among family members and having the ability to change your locations where you want them to be, getting hacked and having your private data being leaked is far worse. Through apps such as Life 360 and Find my Friends, it is important to think twice before sharing your information. What may seem as an ordinary location tracker can actually put our privacy at risk by revealing our home address or where we go to school/work, thus allowing one to misuse the information to exploit us, harm your children and other malicious purposes. In short, these apps hijack our lives by tracking every move we do and the possibility of getting on the hands of someone that we don’t want.
The questions then remain: How do we monitor our child? What can a parent do to make sure that their child is not doing the wrong things and is safe? What about the parents whose children are suffering from depression and on the verge of committing suicide where the need for constantly monitoring their children everyday matters? How can we try to monitor our child without losing any trust?
Personally, I believe that although every parent should care for their child, tracking apps are not the solution due to the various dangers they can have. Parents and their children need to be able to confide in their children and apps like these hinders that relationship. However, tracking apps are an innovative piece of technology and do have their use in extreme situations. But as far as trustworthiness goes, it is still important for parents to first talk to their children regarding their motives to “care for them” rather than “stalking them.” While there is currently no solution to this problem, I believe that tracking apps must no longer be the norm to foster the moral development of children and to preserve the relationship between children and their parents.