As a blogger I get sent a lot of emails and over the course of the last month I have been offered three different GPS devices. Not a new sports watch or sat-nav for the car but three different devices all aimed at tracking your children.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there will be children with special educational needs or disabilities where GPS tracking could be useful and very much needed but to aim a GPS tracker at every family just makes me think that the world has gone mad.
I grew up in the 80’s/90’s. It was a time when we didn’t have the internet, mobile phones or more than four TV channels. I think we even still had a black and white TV at home for a while too. I got my first mobile phone when I was about 14 – that I saved up Coca Cola ring pulls for – and we had dial up internet when I was at secondary school which was amazing at the time although I only really used it for homework, MySpace and MSN Messenger.
Back when I was a child my parents hardly let me out of their sight and I only started going to school by myself when I went to secondary school. I’d always tell my parents where I was going to be, what time I’d be home and if anything changed then I would ring them – from a pay phone before I got a mobile phone.
My parents trusted me and kept me as safe as they possibly could. I’m sure it was the same for generations before – that parents just did their best and as their children grew they gave them more responsibility and more space until one day they were an adult with all that independence and a whole world in front of them.
But, I often find myself wondering how we got this far. How did we even survive those years of childhood and times without broadband internet and wifi? We now need GPS trackers for our children – and it’s just one in a long list of products that there just isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a mainstream need for.
If you start GPS tracking your children where will it stop? Will you still be watching their every move when they’re sixteen? When they’re eighteen? At what point does it stop being parental concern and start being an infringement on their privacy? At which point does it stop you worrying and instead turns into an obsession of checking where they are all the time?
Our lives have all changed from being simplistic to being full of time saving measures, technology and short cuts. Everything is about doing things quickly and often making things easier, making the generations lazier and having a world that expects access to information instantly, to know where everyone is and what everyone is doing at the touch of a button.
But for me, GPS tracking children is a step too far. I’d like to think that as my children grow I’ll give them the space to do so, walking them to school as long as possible before they walk to school with their friends. They’ll be contactable by mobile phone and I’m sure they’ll have Whatsapp and social media. They’ll tell me when they’ll be home, whether they’ll be in for dinner and they’ll let me know if their plans change. And before I know it they’ll be adults, in a world where who knows what will be commonplace – maybe even microchipping children if, by that point, GPS tracking them isn’t quite enough.