BY RACHEL SHARPE
Every mother has told their child at least once that she has eyes in the back of her head. However, modern technology proves that the phrase is not very far off. Parents can now track their teenager’s every move, even from miles away. New GPS tracking devices alert parents when their teenager goes over the speed limit or drives somewhere they aren’t supposed to be. The issue of privacy versus safety is where most parents and teens are in conflict with each other: are GPS tracking devices an invasion of teenagers’ privacy, or is it just responsible parenting?
For many parents, it can be difficult to accept the fact that their little girl or boy is growing up and entering the world of adulthood. They want to make sure that their teenager is out of harm’s way and in their eyes, GPS teen tracking devices are an effective way to monitor their teenager’s safety. However, the device crosses the line of trust between a parent and teenager that is crucial towards a teen’s development.
With the ability to monitor the driver’s speed and the places they drive to, a GPS teen tracking device essentially acts as a virtual tattletale. Although the device does promote safe driving habits, its extraordinary features are overblown. Parents can use the device to draw virtual boundaries of places their teen is allowed to drive. If a teenager crosses these boundaries, the parents are notified within seconds by phone or e-mail alerts. Parents are even capable of flashing the car’s lights or honking the horn if their teen is driving over the speed limit for 30 seconds or longer and can continue to do so until their teen slows down.
The device is becoming increasingly popular, especially because of its affordable price tag and its portable size. The GPS tracking device can be downloaded to a teenager’s mobile phone or hidden inside of the vehicle. The scariest thing about it is that a teenager may or may not know they are being tracked by their parents. Although the device may be legal, it is certainly unethical.
According to NationalPublicRadio.org, many experts believe that such tracking devices will soon be as mainstream as cell phones. It is certainly mind-boggling to consider that one’s privacy can be completely disregarded at the cost of safety. Jim Katz, Director of the Rutgers University Center for Mobile Communication Studies, predicts that parents will soon be able to literally spy on their teenager through tiny cameras 24 hours a day and even listen in on their conversations. This undoubtedly conveys a false sense of security to parents.
Too much spying has a tendency to backfire. Oftentimes, relationships between teens and parents are ruined due to a parent’s overprotectiveness. When parents spy on their teenager, it violates trust and a teenager’s right to privacy. Teens often rebel and stop communicating with their parents when they find out they don’t trust them. According to Tina Payne Bryson Ph.D, spying may motivate teenagers to rebel and participate in even more dangerous behavior. Researchers believe that it’s actually important to give teenagers the freedom to make their own decisions and learn through the natural consequences of their actions.
Although the GPS tracking device may be useful to monitor safe driving habits of teenagers, the use of such devices by parents is irrational and unethical. After all, teens are just as entitled to their privacy as anyone else.