A recent research study by the Pew Research Center has reported that only 16 percent of parents use mobile spying apps to track their teen’s location. The question is: Who is responsible for the safety of a roaming adult – the parent or the teen? Well, if you want to start a heated argument, ask a group of parents what they think about location tracking of a teenager using a mobile spying app. Psychologist Lisa Damour discussed this fervently debated topic in a recent New York Times article, writing: “Plenty of adults balk at the idea of remotely following an adolescent’s movements, while others question why any loving parent wouldn’t.”
Parents have always been facing the perplexity of when to step back and when to take a more hands-on approach with their teens. The proliferation of technology has further added a new ridge to that problem: Todays’ parents must plan how, when and to what extent they need to monitor their teens’ mobile activities. The Pew research also added that the latest mobile spying apps are widely used by the majority of parents to check their teen’s web history (61 percent) and social media profiles (60 percent). 48 percent of the parents spy on their teens’ phones to look through call records and messages. Location tracking using latest mobile spying apps needs to be encouraged as few parents are utilizing more technical measures including parental controls or location tracking apps to monitor their teens.
In general, mobile spying apps to track GPS location of your child touch on some of the most heated parenting topics: Trust and safety, a young person’s right to privacy, and the gut-wrenching fact that to be a parent is to decide forever to let an important part of you walking around outside your body.
“We have research that tells us that if kids feel like their privacy is being invaded, it does harm to the relationship. We also see situations where it becomes a cat and mouse game, where kids are leaving their phones places, turning their phones off. Putting more energy into trying to get away from their parent than trying to keep themselves safe,” Damour told CBS News.
Should you track your teen’s location?
Location tracking using latest mobile spying apps can, without question, cost the connection between parent and teenager. Teens who believe their parents have invaded their privacy by spoofing their devices are more likely to have high levels of conflicts at home. Lorrie Faith Cranor, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who studies children’s privacy and safety in the context of technology doesn’t keep tabs on her two teenagers, “It’s tempting to do it because we are all worried about our kids, feel like their parents are following them around all the time.”
Commonly, there are two types of perception towards teen’s location tracking: Why and why not?
Reasons to track
- Allows parents and teens to check in with each other
- Could be used to establish trust
- Can be excused for teens to say no in risky situations
Reasons not to track
- Could prevent learning independence
- Can damage the child-parent relationship
- A teen may learn how to skirt surveillance
It is recommended that parents must discuss their decision about location tracking with their teens. If parents decide against mobile spying apps to track location, they must talk to their teens about why. Parents might say, for instance, “When you are not with us, you are responsible for your own safety. We are always there for you, in case you need help, but we will not track you because we can’t, at a distant, guard you against the choice you make.”
It is easy enough to highlight the downsides of location tracking, but can it be a better idea to track someone’ movements by using latest mobile spying apps? Of course, if we consider some key parameters.
Make safety a joint effort
There are plenteous mobile spy apps that let you follow your teen secretly, but probably it is a bad idea. As Jason Curtis, the technology director at prekindergarten through grade 12 school in Dallas shared his views that parents who try to hide the fact that they are monitoring their kids’ location mostly undermine trust. He added that “the majority of the time, the teen figures it out.” Parents who use location tracking to catch misbehaving teenagers risk their own relationship with their child.
When done jointly, however, location monitoring using mobile spy apps can contribute to the safety of your teens. For example, you can discuss with your teen driving alone that she doesn’t have to text or call if she is running late as you can check her GPS location remotely. You can ask your kid to send you the agreed-upon family code implying that he/she needs to be picked up immediately, and you can use your mobile spying app to track their current location.
Appreciate the restrictions of location tracking
Having location information, parents must avoid making postulates about what they might be doing. If your kid is located at an inappropriate place, discuss this with your kid and don’t pass pushy “well-meaning” statements. There are chances that your kid was there doing a good act like helping someone in need. Teens can even do all the wrong things, in the exact same place they were supposed to be. Obviously, having mere information about the location of your kid doesn’t imply you know what is going on with them.
Treat it as temporary
Location tracking can also be used to rebuild trust with your teens that leads to freedom. As a parent, you can help your teen move toward freedom by mentioning, “I want you to inform me where you will be, to tell me if your plan has changed. I‘ll confirm your GPS location by phone for a while, but once I feel you have become a responsible person, I‘ll stop looking over your shoulder.” By age 18 or earlier, it is better to discuss with your teens if they are still fine with being located digitally, you don’t have an open-ended tracking agreement with them.
Raising teenagers is hard, and any parent who says otherwise is definitely lying. Parents often don’t know where their teens are, what they are up to, and if they will tell the truth when enquired. Location tracking using latest mobile spying apps enables you to deal with all such concerns. At the same time, location tracking can exacerbate an old parenting issue: I want to keep my teen safe, maintain a healthy relationship and, concurrently, foster their freedom.