Have you ever wondered how fast your teen is driving when not under your watchful eye? Or wish you could block them from online dating and chat sites? Maybe turn their phone off – even lock it down – after a pre-set time limit? Or even track their GPS location? Well, the good news is there’s an app for that. Yes, for all of that.
Although many of us might be uncomfortable with the idea of our government or private corporations’ spying on us, apparently more and more parents are secretly watching their kids, giving new meaning to the term ‘helicopter parenting.’ With all of the new surveillance tools now available to the general public, parents no longer have to physically hover nearby to keep a close eye on their kids; it can all be done remotely and under cover as these new tools make it easy to hide the fact that you’re keeping a close eye.
But before a parent decides to invest in some of the latest digital technologies to secretly stalk and micromanage their kids’ lives, they might want to have a closer look at the evidence when it comes to what difference it may or may not make in their children’s behavior. A study that examined the assumption that the more tracking and surveillance performed by parents, the less likely their children were to become involved in ‘delinquent’ behavior, revealed that those parents who know more about what their kids are up to learned about these activities directly from their kids, and not from secretly observing them. So in other words, if those kids are doing okay, it’s not because their parents know what they’re up to, as much as the fact that their kids are actually telling them.
As the authors of the study, Kerr and Stattin, explained, “children’s spontaneous disclosure of information explained more of these relations than parents’ tracking and surveillance efforts did” and concluded that the findings of the study “suggest that parents’ tracking and surveillance efforts are not as effective as previously thought.”
An article in the New York Times referred to a Pew Research Center survey that found 61% of parents not only check their children’s Internet history, but also reviewed their social media accounts, and cell phone history and messages. “Parents now routinely keep tabs on their children’s digital behavior in one form or another.”
Alarmingly enough, this kind of technology also makes it possible to digitally monitor your partner, spouse or co-workers – or just about anyone else – and all without any of them ever knowing about it. Deleting your history or browsing in ‘incognito mode’ isn’t enough – everything you do and say online, and everywhere you go in the real world, is tracked and knowable to whoever is monitoring you through this app.
Who could have guessed that carrying around a device with a microphone, camera, built-in GPS, and messaging systems would ever compromise individual privacy?