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Understanding the Borderline between GPS tracking and Spying on Children

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Keeping tabs on your child is something that parents have been doing since time immemorial. It's just how we do it that has changed – leading to the growth in popularity of GPS tracking systems today for this exact purpose.

GPS tracking has become the go-to system for parents to keep a check on their child’s behaviour. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 61% of parents today actively keep tabs on their child’s location and a check on their browsing habits.

Why are Location Apps So Popular?

It’s no secret that children sometimes lie to their parents; GPS tracking technology could make this a lot more difficult.

Easy to install - all you need is an Android or iOS app and you will have a lot more knowledge of what is going on in your child’s life. It’s amazing how live updates are not just restricted to emails anymore.

Location sharing apps are more popular than you would think. One popular app, Life360, has had more than 20 million downloads. This app helps alert parents to their child’s location and gives updates regularly.

While this is all great, the question remains, where do we draw the line?

When does keeping your child’s behaviour in check and keeping them safe from any harm turn into an obsession to know their every move and action? Is GPS tracking essentially a way to spy on your children and if so, is it justified?

What Do Parents Feel?

It is comforting for parents to know their child’s whereabouts and know that they are safe and away from any kind of harm.

With the help of GPS tracking technology and its location sharing capabilities parents do not have to hover over their children and can give them the room they need to grow and evolve while always knowing their exact location in the event of an emergency.

This technology does offer peace of mind and surveillance equipment and GPS tracking is an effective technique in this digital age but the aspect of compliance does come into play.

While it is comparatively easier to track preteens, tracking teenagers can prove to be a monumental challenge owing to the fact that they might not want to be and may in all probability rebel against it.

Children have fought long and hard against any violation of their civil liberties.

Spying and Monitoring - Understanding the Difference

The dictionary definitions of monitoring and spying are quite divergent. Monitoring is viewed as more informal and involves transparency on all sides. It is respectful, those being monitored will know. Spying on the other hand is insidious and involves the secret gathering of information.

This is a violation of one’s privacy, they are being watched when they’d rather not be.

Some parents might believe that it’s essential to “spy” on their kids to receive unedited and entirely accurate information, but it can quickly turn into being an inappropriate and unacceptable violation of their privacy.

Smartphone or GPS monitoring when used correctly enables parents to be a part of their child’s life, with their child’s knowledge and consent and with the shared understanding that if the need arises this technology can guard against negative or unsafe circumstances.

What Should You Do?

Do not monitor your child’s every movement. A child’s freedom needs to be respected, there must be boundaries. Without this space children will not grow, will not learn to make their own decisions or deal with their mistakes. As parents we will always have our child’s best interests at heart but over monitoring will stifle a child’s development and infringe on their privacy.

Children have the right to protect their privacy so it is important that a dialogue be maintained. Always let your child know that they are being monitored. Be open, do not make it a secret that in time can be viewed negatively.

Ensure that boundaries are set and observed. Keep your children informed and educated on the positive aspects of you knowing where they are and if they are safe.

As a parent you do not want to snoop but safeguard. An honest, healthy relationship with your child is of the utmost importance for monitoring to work. Protect this and protect them.

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