Check any thread on just about any parenting site, and you’re sure to come across bitter arguments between parents who track their kids, and ones who don’t. What starts out as civil discourse, quickly careens off Pleasant Drive and speeds down Wildwood Lane until eventually someone shuts down the comments and parents storm back to their respective corners.
Does it have to be like this? Why does a simple matter of parenting bring out the worst in us?
Should I Track My Kids?
The truth is, according to numerous research studies, today’s kids are behaving far better than their predecessors, psssst that’s you mom and dad. They are indulging in less drugs, less smoking and less underage sex. So, why are we so interested in tracking their every move?
Back to the threads on this subject and most parents that are “pro tracking” conclude that by doing so, they can help their child, or even have helped their child, in an emergency. Sounds like a good enough reason for most, right?
But what about your child’s autonomy? How do they grow up without you knowing they veered off their typical course home to stop by a local gas station for a forbidden Monster energy drink to keep them awake to study for tomorrow’s test.
That’s where it gets tricky. Do we really need to know that? One Time magazine writer recently remarked that just because we have the ability to have a PET scan that shows us every abnormality or budding cancerous growth, the FDA doesn’t recommend it. Why? Because the stress and anxiety brought on by having this information isn’t really worth it.
Yes, the lines really are distinctly drawn.
One set of parents believe that keeping their children safe from any possible harm outweighs any privacy their child needs. And let’s face it, they’re not crazy. Over 400,000 children were abducted last year. And there are of stories of children, or their parents, saving themselves from kidnappers using tracking apps.
The other set of parents rallies for their child’s privacy. And they’re not crazy either. Science has shown us over and over again that parent/child conflict is an outcome of lack of privacy. Children want to be trusted, and when they’re not, the relationship breaks down.
For one set of parents, tracking gives them peace of mind. For another, it can cause crippling anxiety.
So where do you fall? Perhaps you’re for tracking and perhaps you’re not.
Whatever side you fall on, good for you. You made the personal choice that is best for you, and best for your family. Remain confident that you’re doing what’s best for you.
But one other thing. After you’ve decided what’s best for you, why not take a step back and appreciate that other parents have decided what’s best for them. Parenting doesn’t have to be a unified approach. What’s good for one family, may not work for the next.
So, next time you scroll by a thread that’s wound its way to Wildwood Lane on the subject of child tracking, take the “Detour” sign and scroll to the next subject. That might just be a more pleasant experience for everyone.
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