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Tracking your children — smart or invasive?

Nichole Beaudry strives to capture the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments with her children. She earned her undergraduate degree in English from The University of Texas and her master’s in English from California State Un...

We can track our kids, but should we?

The latest technology helps parents keep a close eye on every step their children make, from what they’re doing, how fast they drive, what they watch and even if they’ve brushed their teeth. But are these devices invasive and damaging of trust or great parenting tools?

We can track our kids, but should we?

The latest technology helps parents keep a close eye on every step their children make, from what they’re doing, how fast they drive, what they watch and even if they’ve brushed their teeth. But are these devices invasive and damaging of trust or great parenting tools?

With technology that can help us track our children from when they’re infants until they grow up and go off to college, we are easily able to monitor their every move.

How to track them through the years

It all starts with our desire to keep our children safe from harm. When they're infants, we rely on audio and video monitors to peek in on our new babies to be sure that they're sleeping peacefully. That desire to protect our children doesn't lessen over time.

Toddlers

We can track our ever-busy toddlers with Brickhouse Security's Toddler Tag Child Locator, a GPS tag that simply clips onto their clothing and alerts us if they stray too far from us.

Kids

For those adolescents who aren’t the best or most committed tooth brushers, armed with a router, a base station and a sensor, we can quickly check online to see if they’ve cleaned those pearly whites by having them brush with the GreenGoose Toothbrush Sensor.

Tweens

As tweens, we can monitor their cell phone usage with programs like My Mobile Watchdog and read their texts with TextGuard, just one of the many readily-available programs for checking their texts.

Teens

Once they’re teenagers, we can monitor nearly everything they do, from their physical whereabouts with Where the Flock, their internet chats with Discover It to their driving habits with tiwi, a product marketed as a driver mentoring solution.

How much online privacy should you allow your kids?

But should we be tracking them in the first place?

This ability to track their every move begs the question, just because we can track them, does that necessarily mean that we should?

Are these helpful tools for parents or will they ultimately destroy the trust that we work so hard to build with our children?

Some words of caution

Massachusetts General Hospital child psychiatrist Steve Shlozman warns parents to proceed with caution. "When kids feel crowded, they tend to do things that they otherwise would not do," he explains. "They take even greater risk because they have a desire to prove their independence and their individuality. There is something they need to get away with."

Shlozman explains that tracking our children undermines the trust that allows them to develop on track. They need to learn to make good choices because they’re the right choices, not because they know they’ll be caught.

At some point, parents will have to trust their children to make safe choices without fear that they're being watched. Instilling in them a sense of right and wrong from a young age and allowing them more freedom to make good decisions over time can help to build mutual trust along the way.

More on kids and privacy

A peek inside the life of your tween
How to communicate with your teen
Spying on teens online

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