Should You Track Your Kids via GPS?

Hi Readers — Tomorrow I’m on Fox & Friends at 8:20 a.m. Eastern Time talking about the Little Buddy Child Tracker — a device that allows parents to track their kids’ every move. What upsets me is the rationale behind the product: That children are in danger every second they step out the door, and that any GOOD parent keeps them under constant surveillance — either in person, or, now, by GPS.

Not only does this reinforce the notion that we are living among depraved monsters, it also reinforces the notion that if, God forbid, anything bad DOES happen to a child, it’s the parents’ fault. They should have been there. They should have expected the very worst. Every parent should treat every day as potentially their children’s last.

Ah, the carefree days of childhood!

It’s not that I don’t believe in preparing children for the world. I totally do. I believe in preparing them for the dangers they are LIKELY to face: Traffic. Bad weather. A confusing change in plans. I teach them to look both ways, to stand up for themselves if they feel threatened, to ask for help if they need it. I’ve talked to them so much about sex and drugs and HIV, I can’t say the word “condiment” without them rolling their eyes.

Preparation is good. Paranoia is not. We all know that stranger danger is ridiculously  exaggerated by the media and that children face far greater threats from people they know. Little Buddy (which sounds like Big Brother’s Gilligan-like sidekick) preys upon fears that all strangers are out to get our kids. Parents pass that fear along to their children when they give them this device along with the unspoken lesson: You are not safe unless we are there with you.

No one is saying there is no danger in the world, only that our fears are out of proportion, and misdirected at that. The Little Buddy is not a buddy. It’s a fear monger. But since it just may give some parents the peace of mind that lets them allow their kids to walk home, maybe there is some Free-Range value in it. Right? Maybe?

I really don’t know. So, before I head off to Fox,   I’d love to hear your thoughts on this device. Many thanks!  — Your buddy (but not your Little Buddy), Lenore