As technological advances lead to greater opportunity a recent parenting trend has surfaced that I feel is not only overly-controlling but also leads to an extremely unhealthy parent-child relationship. Through cell phones and various other electronic devices following, "tracking" another individual has become not only possible but widely practiced. With the click of a button, parents can monitor exactly where their child is at all times. Often, parents who practice this concept claim that tracking is a safety tool. I am not here to argue or falsify that claim.
I am here to bring attention to the true effects this trend is having on parent-child relationships.
Trust is something that lays the foundation for every type of relationship one can involve themselves in. When there is no trust, it's likely the relationship is unhealthy or becomes unhealthy fairly quickly. Often this "tracking" begins when a child is a young teen. By the time teenagers reach driving age, most parents are tracking their children. Their every move is pinpointed on a GPS system that their parents can access at any time. I will admit, while the child is living under the parent's roof, this seems relatively fair.
Of course, a parent has every right to "track" their child if they so please.
I understand that you are paying for the car. I understand that you are paying the phone bill. I understand that your child is still legally and financially bound to you. So, yes, you have every right to track their every move, but you also have every opportunity to trust your child and gain a mutual level of respect that will, in turn, keep your child on the right path much more productively than any GPS system.
You can't be surprised when your child inevitably stops wanting to be close with you and disclose information about themselves.
If your child wants to go to her friend's graduation party that you made her swear she wouldn't attend, they will find a way to go. If your daughter wants to see the boy you made her promise she would never see, she will, in fact, find a time to see him. If your child wants to sneak out and get Mcdonald's at 1 a.m., they will likely do so if she is craving a cheeseburger badly enough. No harm, no foul because you'll just catch them on the tracker and stop them before they get there, right?
Likely your child will know your tracking there phone, and likely they will decide to leave their phone in whatever location they are supposed to be at. Trust me, I know how it goes. I guess you as a parent have to decide what is safer. Your child at a party that they trusted you enough to tell you about because they respect the authority that you use in an equally respectable way, or your child at a party phone-less with no way to contact you if there is an emergency.
Not to mention, technology is not perfect.
Believe it or not, technology glitches and malfunctions all the time and this can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication. When a child's phone dies their tracker stops tracking them at the location in which their phone went dead. If the child is driving on a highway or backroad, this often times put their location in a questionable place. It takes a solid three minutes to get a phone on the charger and back up and running and you would be surprised the conclusions parents can jump too in a quick 180 seconds.
The consequences run deeper than just this, unfortunately.
A world where tracking each other is the norm has completely devalued the concept of trust. Trust is no longer viewed as a vital aspect of relationships, whether familial, romantic or friendly. It is now no longer a question of whether one is trustworthy, but an expectation that if they do not allow another to validate their trust through unhealthy mechanisms they cannot be trusted. Parents' use of tracking has normalized it as an essential aspect of a relationship and a common trend composed of "tracking" your romantic partner has emerged out of young adult relationships.
Let's be honest here, our relationships are unhealthy and we have to change some things.
While a percentage of parents' efforts in tracking their children is to maintain their safety, it is untruthful for a parent to argue that there are no ulterior motives that stem from being a little nosy and a little too involved in their children's social life. If a kid was, god forbid, kidnapped, the first rule of thumb would be to take or shut down the child's cell phone, eliminating the benefit of the tracking system. In this type of scenario, cell phone providers and the police force are capable of tracking a cellular device.
It is time that we are honest with ourselves about the true effect this parenting trend is having on relationships across a broader scale. It is time we raise trustworthy kids, rather than invest in trustworthy tracking systems.