Childhood is a time of sweet memories, freedom, and no responsibilities. When adults recall the sweetest event from the past they often complain about their kids now being deprived of ‘real life’ because of their phones. Though true to some extent, it’s not the whole truth. No matter how dissatisfied with the phones the parents can be, it’s better to accept this reality and find efficient solutions to co-exist with them rather than just criticize.
What is a smartphone and internet for an adult? Family, work, communication, and news. What is a smartphone for a teenager? Totally different vision – a whole private world and self-identity. Parents struggle to know and control what their kids are doing; youngsters get annoyed with control. Parents are worried about their kids going somewhere without their notice; youngsters want freedom. Looks like an eternal battle with no end. However, the digital world which is blamed for causing the problems is there to help. Tracking devices will give parents peace of mind and will prevent them from constantly calling kids – a win-win situation.
When deciding what type of trackers to buy, it is good to know what is on offer.
What is on the market?
First of all, the technology used. Basically, there are two types of tracking options, which depend on what you want to control.
- Pre-installed on iOS and Android devices location-sharing apps – Find My Friends or Google Family.
- Third-party apps – gather a certain range of data from connected phones.
The majority of apps use geofencing which sends signals when the phone leaves a certain area – quite useful during school days. There are also the developers like Find My Kids Solution who offer a remote activation of the microphone, letting parents hear everything happening around the kids. Those who prefer invisible control can opt for stealth mode, like TeenSafe, which will make the phone control invisible. However, it’s important to understand – when the kids find out about such tracking somehow, the trust will be lost.
Apart from location tracking, parents can also keep the browsing history under control – allowing or banning certain types of information. It is a perfect solution in terms of safety as the growing number of malware offered online is deeply concerning. Besides, children aren’t as vigilant about the dangers as adults, and can easily be manipulated into some illegal or disastrous matters. With all the identity thefts, it’s easy to be fooled by predators in disguise.
Yet another worrying parental concern is screen time. Being glued to their phones, kids miss out on everything and don’t actually communicate with the society they belong to. Being extremely active in the online community, they feel lost while having face-to-face communication. That’s balancing screen time is crucial, in order to help kids socialize more. Luckily, the tracking apps contain this option as well. Find My Kids offers a look into the time spent for all applications on the phones, OurPact allows us to see the screenshots of messaging, and Bark checks the ‘mood’ of messages, looking for concerning ones.
Where’s the balance?
When choosing the application you need, it’s time to move to another stage, which is not less important – getting the child’s agreement. Surely, the majority will think that there’s no need for that, however, it’s crucial to talk to the kid as it’s their life and they have the right to be aware.
- First of all, it’s important to explain the reason behind such measures. Not to create the picture of a totally criminal and dangerous world outside – there’s no need to scare them off, but to be sensible in explanations, coming up with examples from real life (unfortunately, there are plenty of them).
- Define the measures of control – if it is overwhelming, the future adult will never become responsible and confident enough. Children need to feel that they are taken seriously.
- The more control, data, and restrictions – the less trust, which is so difficult to regain. Teenagers are just building up their personalities, they undergo a period of emotional growth. If you start checking every step they make during the day, you’ll undermine the basis of your communication, and it will lead to even more secrecy and loss of connection.
- Teach them to find the balance and don’t just impose the rules. Give them the choice and freedom to choose. Everything that is imposed is perceived aggressively. It’s useless to ban the usage of a smartphone or the Internet, however, it’s important to teach them to balance time.
It’s crystal clear why parents are worried about their kids and want to track their daily movements and activities. When picking up the right app, choose the one which offers more options for emergency states – not just the precise location, but the sounds around, if possible, as it is extremely helpful in some cases. However, don’t overdo it with the control and agree on the boundaries. If you try to be more authoritative, it will just be counterproductive, making the matters worse.