Simplifying Science

Teen Tracking

Lisa Damour nails it again! There is no benefit to sneaking a peek into our kids' lives without their knowledge. Because when we do, and then we catch them doing something dangerous/forbidden/illegal/just plain wrong, what leg do we have to stand on?

Years ago I had a mom in my practice who eavesdropped on her kids using hidden nanny cams and found out they were engaging in really bad behavior. At first she felt victorious because she caught them before they went down a dangerous road. But when she went to confront them, she realized she had to admit how she gathered the knowledge, which in turn created a rift in trust for a long time to come. Another patient set up a "designated texter" system with his friends - one teen was responsible for texting parents and checking in, reassuring the adults, while the rest of the kids partied.

There are deep flaws and wide open loopholes in location trackers, text check-ins, and nearly every other remote solution parents devise to make themselves feel better about their kids' safety. Wherever you land on this topic, I strongly encourage you to let your kids in on your choice. This way, they have an opportunity to prove their maturity and, if they do get caught where they aren't supposed to be, they know how you know...

If you want to start a heated debate, ask a group of parents what they think about using technology to track a teenager’s location. Plenty of adults balk at the idea of remotely following an adolescent’s movements, while others question why any loving parent wouldn’t.

As the school year gets underway, parents who have just dropped their teenagers off on college campuses may be watching on apps like Life 360 as their freshly minted freshmen try to figure out the best route from dorm to… READ MORE