Finding The Balance Between Monitoring And Independence
A study on the uses and benefits of GPS trackers for kids
At BrickHouse Security, we get calls all the time about GPS trackers for kids. People ask our team questions about the best ways to ensure their child’s safety 24/7, and on a daily basis, we’re asked whether embedded microchip GPS trackers are options for monitoring children. It’s clear many parents are extremely concerned about the safety and whereabouts of their kids, often staying awake at night with their worries. While GPS trackers can be great tools for parents, their use also raises the moral question of how much monitoring is too much. It’s important to be well-informed about the uses of GPS trackers as you choose the best way to approach your child’s safety. At BrickHouse, we are here to help you when you need to know.
Why Parents Choose to Use GPS Trackers for Their Kids
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 designated geographic areas, 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.
Open Communication About GPS Trackers for Kids
When it comes to tracking your child or teenager, covert monitoring is possible, but many parents find greater success with being open with their children about tracking. It can be beneficial to have a conversation with your child or teen to explain the purpose of the GPS tracker being employed to watch them. Some points that should be covered in your discussion with your child or teen include:
- The tracker should not be a symbol of a lack of trust in your child’s choices
- Your child’s safety is your primary concern
- Information gathered can be used to help your child be more responsible and safe
Each parent knows their own child best, and depending on the reasons for choosing to use a GPS tracker, they will have their own insight into the information they want to disclose about their reasons for tracking them. If a GPS tracker is not to be seen as a threat of privacy and independence, however, it is important to reassure your child, for their peace of mind and yours.
BrickHouse Security’s Preferred Devices
At BrickHouse Security, we recognize that parents are identifying a need to track their children in order to monitor their safety and well-being. We offer a number of devices designed to remain stable and functional in a range of situations. Our GPS tracking devices are flexible enough for a variety of placement options, ensuring that your tracking needs are met.
Trackport 2.0 GPS Vehicle Tracker
When you have a teenage driver in your household, being concerned about their safety and their driving habits is normal. Parents frequently fear that phone call about a car accident and often wish for other means of monitoring their child’s safety. The Trackport 2.0 GPS Vehicle Tracker is designed to provide peace of mind for parents. The device can be plugged into the OBD port, and depending on the type of vehicle and location of the OBD port, may be used covertly. Parents can set up geofences to monitor when their child goes to or departs from specific locations, receive notifications about speeding, and more. Some parents may choose to use the Trackport 2.0 as a means of secretly watching their children, while other parents use it openly, taking the information gathered to help educate their teen about safe driving habits. Another benefit of the Trackport 2.0 is some insurance companies offer a discount for cars equipped with GPS trackers.
When your child is not quite driving but is old enough to be independent, think preteen or tweener, parents are often concerned about their safety as they begin spending more time outside of parental view. At this age, children are walking to school and friends’ houses without supervision and beginning to assert their independence in new ways. The Spark Nano is the ideal GPS tool to help parents keep track of their child’s whereabouts and ensure they safely reach their destinations. Just like with the Trackport 2.0, parents can establish geofences to identify when their child arrives at or departs from set locations and check on their child’s specific location at any time. This GPS device is small enough that it can be easily placed in a child’s backpack.
Toddler Tag Child Locator
Let’s face it, young children are unlikely to be in situations where they are unattended by parents or caretakers, making GPS devices excessive, but it’s understandable that parents would want to know the whereabouts of their child in the event of a separation. Our Toddler Tag Child Locator is a great option for parents who want to be alerted the moment their child wanders outside of 30 feet away, especially in a crowded grocery store or mall. The device consists of two parts, with one fob attaching to the child, either on their shoe or jacket, and the other remaining with the parent, sounding an alarm when the child moves out of the perimeter. Parents can also push a button so a loud alarm sounds from the child’s device to help them find the child, and others in the vicinity will know the child emitting the alarm sound has been separated from their parents.
Pros and Cons of Tracking Your Child Via GPS Tracker
When it comes to choosing if tracking your child or teenager is the best course of action, it is up to each parent to determine what is the right choice for their own family. There is potential for both positive and negative results, and some examples of these are listed below.
Can be used in conjunction with teacher and caretaker support to create a community around the child’s safety
|Daily battery charging may be difficult to remember for the wearable trackers|
Peace of mind
|Trackers can be disabled by someone if the child were abducted, especially in a custody suit as the other parent may be aware of the wearable tracker|
Location information in the event of a disappearance
|May create a dependence of the child upon the parent for protection, could limit independent behavior, and fail to encourage self-reliance|
Ability for children to gain some independence without you being physically present for every activity
|Strangers aren’t the only ones parents need to worry about and a tracker will likely not protect a child from a trusted friend or family member who means to do them harm|
|Can be used in conjunction with teacher and caretaker support to create a community around the child’s safety||Child may remove tracker|
|Teens may resent monitoring and resist their parents’ attentiveness|
When You Need to Know
At BrickHouse Security, we understand your concerns and are committed to providing the products that will help you when you need to know. Often parents need to track the location of their children, whether because they fear their child is hanging out with the wrong crowd, they are new to driving, or simply because parents want peace of mind about their child’s safety. Whatever your reason, we have a tool designed to meet your needs. While there are many ethical concerns raised about whether tracking your children is a good idea, open communication can help to alleviate some of of the perceived mistrust, giving parents the opportunity to keep children safe, day to day.
Published November 23th, 2016