You Can Track Your Kids and Lovers, But You Probably Shouldn't

Paranoid tech nerds, rejoice: new tracking gadgets enable you to track whomever you want in a myriad of ways. Want to know where your wife is at 2 P.M. on a Wednesday? Want to be able to see your teenager's specific location on an online map? Want to receive a text alert if your husband leaves his office before a time you feel is appropriate? All that can be yours, and more, thanks to GPS devices and a growing market for obsessively keeping tabs on your loved ones.

Of course, there are valid reasons to use trackers to look after those who can't take care of themselves: toddlers, older people with Alzheimer's, pets. GPS tracking company executives told the New York Times's Farhad Manjoo that they don't recommend parents hide trackers from their kids — that way they can use them in case of an emergency — and that tracking your family members might actually help neurotic worrywarts chill out:

Even though most statistics show that rates of violent crime against children have declined significantly over the last few decades, and that abductions are extremely rare, it's difficult for some parents to get over the fear of letting their children wander out into the world. A GPS tracker can help parents conquer that anxiety: because you know you'll be able to find your children when they're in trouble, you might allow them to walk to school, take the train to the movies, or do any number of other grown-up things that children today don't get to do.

But these devices also make it easier for people to track their loved ones instead of, you know, actually talking to them. This type of policing can be worse than a poor substitute for good parenting; your kids will resent the shit out of you if you make sure they're not driving recklessly or sleeping over at their significant other's house via a Meet the Parents plot line. Sure, if you trust your kids and teach them well instead of electronically bugging them, there's a possibility they might still disobey you and even end up getting hurt. That's scary. But if you make it clear that you don't trust them enough to make good decisions without your electronic approval, there's probably a massive communication disconnect going on.

"My spying was meant only as an experiment, but I still felt like a heel." Manjoo said when he tested out the trackers on his family members. Chances are, you'll only feel like a sketchy dick if you're using trackers in a sketchy, dickish way.

Keeping Loved Ones on the Grid [NYT]

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