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How Much Should I Protect My Child?

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Parenting is never easy. It’s your instinct to keep your children safe from any potential threats, whether that’s in the home or out in the big, bad world.

Research shows that three quarters of British children spend less time outside than prisoners, with one fifth of children polled in a survey not playing outside on an average day.

There have been fears that this lack of exercise and active lifestyles in young children is leading to a continued rise in obesity. Almost one in five children leaving primary school are classed as obese, while less than one third of British kids get the recommended level of exercise.

There are numerous reasons for this. An increasing dependency on digital media is one factor, with more choice of immersive video games, movies on demand, hundreds of television channels, and more all vying for children’s attention.

Another powerful factor is parents’ fears. Safety concerns can make it incredibly difficult for adults to trust that their children will be secure and content if they’re allowed to play outside with friends.

However, it’s difficult to judge any parent who refuses to let their child explore the world without being at their side. The charity Action Against Adduction estimated that around 50 children below the age of 16 are taken by strangers each year. While three quarters of the attempted abductions covered were actually unsuccessful, there’s no question that such a scenario could have a devastating emotional impact on a child.

The blight of anxious childhoods

It’s perfectly natural to worry about your children and to want to protect them by any means possible, especially with such high rates of attempted abductions. Add to this other dangers like terrorism, knife crime, gang violence, shootings, and dangerous drivers, and it’s no surprise whatsoever that more children are spending time indoors.

25 percent of British parents have admitted they worry their children feel anxious about the changes involved in Brexit, while four in ten also believe their children are scared of terrorist attacks. The tragic 2017 Manchester bombing at an Ariana Grande concert targeted families and young children, leaving many teens and pre-teens with obvious concerns about how safe they may be at similar events.

Research has also shown that 13 percent of parents feel their children avoid public transport over safety worries, while eight percent claimed their children experienced nightmares due to disturbing stories on the news.

Children have more access to news from all around the world than ever today. Once, families may choose whether to watch the news with their child present or avoid leaving newspapers within reach, but now it’s an entirely different situation. Most children have their own smartphones, including a staggering 25 percent of those aged six and under, around half of whom spend more than 20 hours on it each week.

Smartphones connected to the Internet (whether through Wi-Fi or mobile data) give children of all ages a gateway to the world. This has countless benefits, of course, but sadly it also exposes them to graphic images of real-world violence, pornographic materials, and news stories that may leave them feeling afraid.

Facing parental fears safely

Still, not all children are too afraid to play outside, nor are their parents too concerned about danger to grant them some freedom and independence. Children are a common sight when driving through residential areas and public spaces, whether they’re accompanied by adults or not.

Parenting styles vary wildly, of course. There are those whose paranoia and fear of the world feeds their own child’s uncertainties, leaving them too scared to go outside. There are also those who care too little, and allow their children to behave exactly as they like without proper guidance.

Smothering children and leaving them feeling dependent on a parent for safety can lead to issues in their development. So-called ‘helicopter parents’ risk depriving their children of the sense of accomplishment they feel when overcoming difficulties or safely taking risks, potentially stunting their growth into capable adults ready to take on the world.

It’s not easy knowing how much supervision and direction is ideal. No parent wants their child to live in terror of events that may never happen to them, nor do they want them to wander naively into dangerous situations. We can tell them about good and bad, we can educate them about knowing when to run away, but it’s another thing trusting them to look after themselves.

Fortunately, cutting-edge technology enables parents to monitor their children’s activities and supervise their movements outside without having to physically accompany them.

A modern solution

GPS tracking technology is available in numerous forms. Most of us have navigation apps on our phones, whether we use them when driving or to find a restaurant in an unfamiliar area. GPS devices in cars and trucks have been common for a long time now. However, those catering to concerned parents are available as wearable tech and downloadable apps, allowing you to choose the most appropriate option for your unique needs.

With wearable child GPS tracking devices – such as a bracelet, watch, or clip-on piece – children can enjoy the independence they may want without feeling completely separated from their parents. Mum, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, uncles, aunties, or carers can all track the child’s activities on a corresponding map. Certain features will allow them to stay aware of potential issues, such as the child wandering too far from home. Different devices have their own features.

For example, some state-of-the-art GPS tracking products enable parents and children to communicate without the need of a phone, while others feature a panic button the child can press if they believe they may need help.

This technology is incredibly beneficial for all manner of parent-child relationships. Children who don’t quite feel ready to go outside and explore without their parents can use tracking devices for their own peace of mind, knowing they’re still being watched. Those who crave more freedom but their parents are reluctant to grant it can ensure they remain under their carers’ supervision without feeling stifled.

Parents have to walk a fine line between educating their children and providing them with the guidance they need to make their own judgments, and knowing when to deny them the right to visit a certain place at a specific time. GPS tracking technology makes it easier to find a comfortable middle ground for the parent and child alike, and means that one is never too far from the other. These devices can be a powerful tool in forging strong parental relationships and giving anxious children the confidence they need to face the world on their own two feet.

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