Have you ever briefly lost sight of your child in the supermarket or at an amusement park? Those of you who have, know that you would do just about anything to never feel that overwhelming panic ever again. Naturally, as Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has become more common, using it to track children has arisen as a topic of debate. Advocates for GPS tracking on children promote its use as a safety precaution and kidnapping prevention tool. While those who oppose GPS tracking suggest that it is an invasion of privacy and promotes a lack of trust between parent and child. It’s crucial for parents to fully understand the potential benefits and consequences that GPS tracking can have on children prior to making a purchasing decision.
There is no denying the obvious benefits of knowing where your child is at all times. Children under the age of five can be dangerously curious and have a tendency to wander off to explore the unknown. Similarly, children with special needs can easily become distracted and vanish in the blink of an eye. GPS can provide parents with much-needed peace of mind when their children are under the supervision of someone else. More importantly, however, GPS can be the difference between losing sight of a child for a few moments and a much more traumatizing ordeal. For some parents, tracking their young children is an obvious choice regardless of what critics may say. Why wouldn’t a parent ensure their child’s safety by sending them off to school with a tracking device?
As cut and dry as the topic may appear, tracking a child’s whereabouts isn’t quite so simple once the consequences of constant monitoring are taken into account.
Lack of Independence
Communication experts suggest that constant monitoring can cause behavioral and developmental problems. Since children need privacy to learn and grow as individuals. Relentlessly being watched can inhibit growth. While it is obvious that GPS can help parents find their lost children, it fails to teach children how to identify risks on their own. When a child explores on their own, without their parents, they typically err on the side of caution, knowing that their mom and dad aren’t there to swoop in and save them. On the other hand, a child who knows that their parents are tracking their location may actually push safety boundaries. Knowing that mom and dad will rush to the rescue if something bad happens can prompt children to take dangerous risks that can get them into trouble regardless of being tracked.
It’s critical that children develop the ability to identify risks and danger on their own. It is perhaps even more critical for children to develop the critical thinking skills that could get them out of a dangerous situation should one arise. GPS tracking can reveal the location of the child, only if the child is wearing it. Once it is removed, whether by your child or a predator, your child would be on their own. This is why it’s important that your child is able to identify dangerous situations before fully immersing themselves in one.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is simple; technology is not a substitute for hands-on parenting. Simply because technology can track your child at all times does not mean that you no longer need to teach them about “Stranger Danger” and being aware of their surroundings. GPS can certainly save lives, but if used incorrectly, it can create an unhealthy codependent relationship between parent and child. Consider GPS as a backup plan should a child go missing. This way they grow up with freedom and independence while their parents maintain a sense of security knowing their child could be found if needed.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.