Some of the reasons a parent may choose to use a GPS tracker on their child are:
- Ensuring their child’s safe passage from home to school and other stops
- Monitoring their child’s whereabouts to make sure they are where they say they are
- Tracking safety concerns such as speeding, leaving set perimeters, stopping unexpectedly, car accidents, etc.
- Locating their child in the event of an abduction or unexpected disappearance
- Peace of mind
- Constant knowledge of their child’s location
- Opportunities to monitor a teen’s driving and use the information gathered to educate them about road safety
- Independence for children as they can go out without direct supervision
A number of ethical questions are raised when considering the use of GPS trackers for kids. Many people question their use, fearing they will hinder a child’s development of independence and “street smarts,” so to speak. After all, if mom and dad are looking over their child’s shoulder 24/7, the child may develop a false sense of safety when they are out on their own. Other fears are that the infringement on a child or teen’s privacy will cause them to rebel or act out and remove the tracker, that “stranger danger” is less of a concern than many parents believe, and that the trackers that allow parents to listen in to what is happening around their child can be considered a violation of privacy.
In spite of the cases for and against tracking a child, GPS trackers are a huge market right now, with ever-increasing popularity. Some of the devices specifically designed for parental use with children boast unique features to meet a variety of needs. These products are designed to give parents all of the information they could possibly want about their child’s whereabouts, health status, and more. But here the ethical question arises once again. How much of this information does a parent need, especially about a healthy child without special needs or a teenager who is learning to navigate young adulthood? For example, having to-the-minute updates about your child’s vitals or their location when they are being safely monitored at school may be excessive. In fact, this level of helicopter parenting can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety for the parent as they monitor their child’s every move throughout their own work day.