Get App-y: Tracking your teen

Devices and mobile applications that track your child are growing more popular, but parents have to find the line between keeping them safe and hovering.
by Lillie-Beth Brinkman Modified: November 6, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: November 5, 2013
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Technology makes it possible for parents to track children and teens through devices and mobile applications. But in addition to deciding whether they should follow their children remotely, parents have to weigh differing opinions about the line between safety and privacy.

“I'd rather catch huge mistakes early on than when it's too late,” said Amanda Berry, an Edmond mother who recently won a tracking device in a raffle and now is deciding which of her children needs tracking the most and why.

She's not alone among those parents who want to use devices or mobile applications to keep an eye on their children, whether they're riding bicycles around the neighborhood or to school, or they are new drivers who go out with friends.

Children are growing up in a world where they are in constant touch with their friends through texting and social media; they also know their parents can have that same access.

Now that Kelly Moody's 16-year-old son is driving, she and her husband like the idea of using a mobile app to track his location as a safety net, since teens always have their phones with them. The Moodys use the Life360 app (www.life360.com), which has a free basic membership and a premium membership, for both Android devices and iPhones.

“It's been a winning situation. They are all aware we have it,” the Oklahoma City mother said, adding that her children can check her whereabouts, too. “As long as they're honest, I don't even feel the need to go and pull them up on their app.”

But Suzanne Chew, of Edmond, has a different perspective about the freedom she gives her son, a high school senior. She said she would rather see him make mistakes and suffer logical consequences while he's still living at home.

“I don't read his texts. I don't follow where he's going,” she said.

“By the time that they're driving, it's my job to have taught them the right and the wrong things before they get to that point.”

She said she might take a different view if her children were reckless, hurting others or gave her a reason not to trust them.


by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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