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Keeping digital tabs on teenager’s locations is unjustified, invasive; fosters sense of distrust

CARTOON BY KEATON BUCHERT

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Keeping digital tabs on teenager’s locations is unjustified, invasive; fosters sense of distrust

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If you want to start a heated debate, ask students what they think about parents using technology to track their location. Many teens detest the idea, while many parents question why any other loving parent wouldn’t track their children.

Students are usually tracked as soon as they start driving, around sophomore year. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, while most adults don’t location-track their teenagers, 16 percent of parents do. However, just because children can be tracked via apps like Life 360 or Find My Friends, doesn’t mean they should be.

Location tracking, a concept that might seem beneficial at a glance, actually generates many problems, such as the invasion of a young person’s privacy or the disbandment of trust between a child and parent. Keeping digital tabs on teen’s location also disrupts an adolescent’s development to manage life without adult supervision.

As reported by the New York Times, research shows teenagers who believe their parents have invaded their privacy go on to have higher levels of conflict at home — and teenagers who resent being trailed digitally sometimes turn o location features, allow their phones to die or leave their phones at a friend’s house to disable their parent’s ability to locate them.

Simply put, when parents don’t track their child’s every move, it tells the child that they are responsible for their own decisions they make when away from their parents.

Parents should always be available to help their children, but, along with the negative aspects that come with it, tracking locations is pointless because, at a distance, the child cannot be protected from the choices they make.

Forty-six percent of BV students say their parents track their location, and with a quarter of BV students graduating this year, adulthood and independence is coming quicker than we realize.

By age 18 or earlier, parents should ask teenagers if they are OK with being digitally located. Especially when young people head o to college, sometimes in a far away state, being responsible for themselves is a vital part of growing up.

Raising teenagers comes with guaranteed discomforts — sometimes parents don’t know where their children are, what they are doing or if they are telling the truth.

While location tracking allows parents to address some of these concerns, it exacerbates the way parenting is supposed to happen: Keeping your children safe and maintaining a loving connection, all while fostering their independence.

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Keeping digital tabs on teenager’s locations is unjustified, invasive; fosters sense of distrust