Using GPS trackers and GPS-enabled devices can be practical and these days, even affordable, but knowing where someone is at any given moment is a concern for child rights and privacy advocates.
However, it is understandable that losing a child is a horrifying prospect, which is why some parents think of getting a GPS device for children tracking. The recent slew of GPS devices can ensure where they are at any given moment, and many parents use GPS on kids because they know that when they are at a young and vulnerable age, it is especially important to keep track of them.
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Freedom from Tracking
It is totally understandable that parents use GPS on kids, but no matter how appealing these technologies are, there are the negative effects that should not be understated.
Pam Cowburn, the communications director of the Open Rights Group, said, “It is understandable that parents want to do anything they can to keep their children safe, but they need to ask themselves whether tracking technology is really necessary and whether it will actually protect their children. Parents need to teach their children to be independent and to be able to cope with risks and dangers.”
She also said that these trackers can limit a child’s privacy and personal freedom, at the same time teaching them to accept surveillance as part of life. “There will undoubtedly be an impact on children’s behavior and development if they think that they are constantly monitored by their parents and teachers. A big concern is that it becomes normal for children to be tracked all of the time. Children have a right to privacy as much as anyone else. They need private spaces to be able to play and grow without feeling they are constantly watched.”
Yet some people—especially those who use GPS on kids—say that these devices should not be seen as spying devices but rather child safety apps, the purpose of which is to give children their independence at the same time keep kids safe. Instead of being a stressed parent who won’t let a child do anything on their own, you could give them a bit of independence but keep track of them all the same thanks to a tracker.
Such technology, according to those pro-tracking, requires good communication. It is for the same reason that it is highly advisable for parents to explain the purpose of the tracker to ensure that the children are made aware of its uses and that it’s not a “superhero” that can save them from imminent and immediate danger. They should be told that they would still need to be careful when being out and about.
Why Parents Use GPS on Kids
While it is understandable that parents use GPS on kids just to keep them safe, it can’t be helped that somehow, the tracking technology could lull parents into a false sense of security, especially crimes like kidnapping or abuse. Remember that this won’t be enough to turn offenders away. They can simply throw the device, but even more than that, it is important to note that most crimes against children are perpetrated by family members or family friends whom the child may even be familiar with.
A National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) spokesperson shared, “As children grow older and develop in maturity, it’s important they get the freedom to go out on their own or with friends. It’s just a natural part of developing independence and, like every part of growing up, it can be a challenging hurdle for a parent to overcome.”
Even the most advanced technology cannot completely protect a child, but talking to them about the dangers on the streets and teaching them about responsibility would be necessary in keeping them safe—whether or not you agree to use GPS on kids. In the end, trusting children to make the right decisions and for being responsible would be part of growing up and is something that parents should not lose sight on because yes, eventually, your little tyke won’t be so little anymore, and you will have to be able to let him go.