headshot
Post a Comment
E-mail to a friend:

January 3, 2013

Tracking Your Teen

Should Mom and Dad Play Big Brother?


I was a pretty good teenager. Straight-A student. Didn't smoke pot. Never had a tussle with the fuzz. But I was a dirty little liar. I lied as all teens lie, and for the same reasons: I wanted to be somewhere, and do something, and see someone, that my parents wanted me not to. I wanted those things more than I wanted to be good or trustworthy or deserving of respect.

And so I said I was sleeping at Michelle's house when I was really at my boyfriend's. And I zoomed home at 89 miles per hour to avoid breaking my curfew. And I once drank vodka out of a paper bag in a park in the dark with a very-bad-influence friend and a McDonald's strawberry-shake chaser.

Most of the things I lied about were merely stupid (duh, pour the vodka into the shake, rookie), but some were outright dangerous. And my parents never knew about them until right this second (Hi, Mom!), because they had to take me at my worthless adolescent word.

But today's parents don't have to do that. Technology now lets parents track nearly every move their teenagers make. Even beyond lurking on their kids' Facebook pages and peeking at their text messages, parents can buy devices and subscribe to services that do the following:

  • Track a teen's location on a map at any given moment and alert parents when said teen crosses an agreed-upon "geo-fence."
  • Notify mom or dad when a teen posts something online that "you wouldn't want your kids' college recruiter finding."
  • Monitor seatbelt usage, speeding, and "harsh braking" by teen drivers, and block calls and texts when the car is in motion.

SafetyWeb, for example, will scan your teen's phone and Internet activity for keywords related to drugs, bullying, and even eating disorders, and for online "friends" who are significantly older. "We report it all to you using timely alerts," reads the company's website, "so you can see accounts, photos, friends, tweets, posts, texting/calling frequency and more, all in one place."

Having once been judgment-impaired teens ourselves, we parents can't help but see the appeal of this stuff. But having also been teens who pined for privacy and yearned for independence, I think we have to ask: Is all this really necessary? Technology has changed to allow such surveillance — but has the world changed so much that we need it?

"I don't remember hearing about child abductions when we were growing up," said Dan Rudich, the founder of FamZee, an app and website that lets parents track their kids' locations and lock their cell phone usage at any time of day. "Kids certainly weren't texting and driving."

But it wasn't safety concerns that inspired Rudich, 42, to create FamZee. It was his daughter's after-hours texting. "Every night I'd see her still typing away on it way past her bedtime. It was a daily battle, and I figured there had to be an easier way."

With FamZee, he can lock her phone at bedtime and also when she's in class, end of discussion. He recommends that parents start off with minimal monitoring and stay that way as long as their kids behave responsibly — a parenting philosophy that's not so new, really.

"My sister had a diary growing up," Rudich said. "My parents knew where it was, and they chose not to read it. She was a good kid. If you're a good kid and you're not getting into any trouble, your diary is safe."

To be clear, though, if you come home stinking of Smirnoff and McStrawberry, all bets are off.


Keywords: lying  technology  GPS tracking  vodka 


Comments


Post a Comment:

Name:
E-mail (will not be displayed):
Comment:
To help prevent spam, please re-enter the word that appears in pink below:

We reserve the right to edit or remove comments at our discretion.


<< Previous column View more Parenting columns Next column >>

Share this column with a friend

"Thank you for your wonderful sense of humor and insight into being a woman and a mother!"


Susan F


Now Available:

...as well as Santa Barbara Bookstores Chaucer's, Tecolote & Granada Books, and Signed & Personalized direct from the publisher.


*

Recent columns:

November 20, 2014
Dating a Musician? I Recommend Bass Players

November 6, 2014
Plan B Partners

October 23, 2014
Welcome to Parenting

October 11, 2014
'80s Dancing Is the Only Tolerable Workout

September 25, 2014
Pray Tell: The Hocus Pocus of Happy Thoughts

More >>

Most E-mailed:

Ban 'Bossy'? Over My Bossy Body

Men Are Going Bare. Down There.

Don't Bogart Christmas

Benefits of the Boob Tube

What the Focus This?

More >>


Search:






Get my column in your e-mail inbox every week:

Name:
E-mail:

Or download the RSS News Feed




The contents of this site are © Starshine Roshell. All rights reserved. Site by Comicraft.