Social Question

rockfan's avatar

An iPhone app called "Footprints" allows parents to keep track of the places their children have been. Do you think that's going too far?

Asked by rockfan (3027 points ) August 27th, 2012

It also shows a map and the exact times they went to certain places. I’m predicting that some teenagers might not be using their iPhone as often…

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34 Answers

DrBill's avatar

No, the parents should know where there kids are, and kids should not go anywhere they don’t want there parents to know about.

syz's avatar

I’d probably use it if I had kids. (Just like my mom used to have friends all over town that would call her and tell her where I was and what I was up to – this is just an electronic version of that.)

Of course, if the kids are up to something, all they’d have to do is turn the phone off.

SuperMouse's avatar

Not going too far. I’m all over it. It is almost a virtual leash!

keobooks's avatar

I don’t think I know what’s more sad – the fact that this exists or the fact people think this is a great idea. This takes “helicopter mom” to a whole new level.

bookish1's avatar

This disturbs me. And what are “children” doing having iPhones, anyway?

glacial's avatar

@bookish1 My question exactly… I can’t even afford an iPhone for myself.

zenvelo's avatar

@bookish1 It’s appropriate for tracking teens, and many teens have iPhones, but they also know how to turn it off. And a really sneaky teen knows how to give it to a friend going to the library for a few hours.

One could put a stop to this by informing parents that use it that hackers will now know where their kids are.

Judi's avatar

It sounds like a great app for company when they provide phones for their employees use. Our business requires employees to work independently. More than once we have let someone go because we discovered they were not working, (even at home) while they were being paid to work. We got a tracker for the vehicle and discovered we were paying one employee to use our truck to move his family from one house to another.

keobooks's avatar

I think Judi has a good use for it. I think it would also be cool for people like my husband who works in people’s homes. He wouldn’t have to keep track of all his whereabouts all day. Instead, the phone could automatically do it. It would be neat if there was a way to take the data and put it in a mileage report.

But this disturbs me to use it for kids. We are supposed to be teaching them independence and responsibility. But nobody wants to actually give them any these days.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Not at all, this seems very legitimate to me. It’s a tool, just like a (wired) phone or a pager used to be.

Until the kid turns 18, the kid is the responsibility of the adult.

keobooks's avatar

So at 18, are they just going to magically know how to monitor themselves and make good decisions on their own if we don’t give them any choices at 17?

RocketSquid's avatar

Three years ago I would’ve agreed this is way too far. Now I think it depends on the kid. Kids under 10? Sure. Granted, they should have adult supervision, whether it’s the parents, teacher, friends parents, whatever. But if you trust them enough to let them, say, ride their bike to the library, this program would be okay to not only make sure they behave, but make sure they haven’t been abducted on the way.
Teenagers are a different situation altogether. If your kid isn’t a troublemaker, this probably isn’t necessary at all. However, if he’s being brought home by the cops every week at 2 am, it’s not a bad idea.

TL; DR: Depends on the kid.

keobooks's avatar

I wouldn’t trust a 10 year old or a kid who got brought in by the cops all the time with an Iphone.

Abduction is extremely rare, btw. It gets over played by the media so people think it happens more often than it does. I think people are sacrificing the independence of children for the sake of something that is much more rare than them getting killed in a car accident. I don’t think the Iphone can prevent that.

SuperMouse's avatar

@keobooks talk to me when you have a teenager or a kid on the verge of adolescence.

When my kids are out they are required to check in every time they change locations. So if they are at the mall and are heading over to a friend’s house they need to check in and let me know. If they are at a friend’s house and want to go to the movies they need to check in and let me know. I see the app as being helpful to confirm that they are where they tell me they are going to be. Even the best behaved most level headed teenager can make poor choices.

When I was in high school my father paid absolutely no attention to where I was or what I was doing. I was given all kinds of freedom to make stupid choices and I did things like walk around the city alone at 2:00 in the morning and get into cars with kids I didn’t know and who were certainly impaired. A sixteen year old given too much independence is going to do stupid things, make stupid choices, and quite possible put themselves in danger. All of this talk about sacrificing independence is a joke. Kids – even kids in their teens – want and need boundaries. If we don’t give them we are selling them a bad bill of goods. By giving boundaries and expecting them to be adhered to we are teaching kids to respect limits and helping them to develop the self-discipline to set them for themselves.

Sunny2's avatar

I would like to second @keobooks ‘s point about kidnappings being rare. They over emphasized by the media. Most kidnappings are done by a member of the family, non-custodial parents. The really horrendous occurrences are blown up to even worse proportions to sell media material which spurs on the mentally ill who may decide it’s a good idea to do the same. Now, kids aren’t even allowed to walk to school without an escort. They learn to be afraid, more than they learn self assurance.
It’s party the media, partly the times, but it’s mostly unfortunate.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Well, pardon if it’s already been said but, it doesn’t track where kids have been, it tracks where the phone it’s installed on has been; important difference.

More to the point, I really don’t care much for this. I’d rather see parents instilling self-perpetuating responsibility, trust, and respect than simply monitoring for effect which is not something I’m a fan of in general (though I wistfully admit its situational value as we stand today). However, as was said, if you’ve got a kid being brought home by the cops every other night (or similarly causing grief) I suppose it’s worth a try – though I’d wager a futile one implemented on its own – and perhaps it might help drive home the point when reminding a kid who’s demonstrated a lack of even mediocre judgement that such is unacceptable. I’ve heard arguments about protecting kids too and just wonder when are these kids supposed to learn how to make independent decisions, understand consequences, and develop a sense of judgement (basically protecting themselves) if they’re constantly being hand-held until they’re off to college or at least on their own? I don’t want people making the right choice because of the hope of a reward or fear of consequence. I want them making the right choice because it’s the right choice. I’m not seeing how this is going to get us there.

Every case is different, there is no “right” way, but this doesn’t strike me as being generally on point with raising better kids and people.

@SuperMouse You can say the same thing about anyone. Obeying boundaries when under authority is fundamentally different from learning how to manage freedom and independence. That isn’t to say the former can’t teach anything about the latter, but they aren’t the same, very different rules apply.

SuperMouse's avatar

@wonderingwhy the kid is learning how to manage freedom and independence even with a curfew and boundaries. The kid has the choice whether to stick with the rules and continue to have their freedom, or disobey the rules and have the freedom taken away. I have worked with my kids since they were toddlers to instill “self-perpetuating responsibility, trust, and respect.” All three of them have been consistently been forced to take responsibility for their behaviors and face the consequences of inappropriate behavior. Teaching these things and monitoring your kid’s whereabouts are not mutually exclusive – they are complementary.

keobooks's avatar

There is a world of gray between “paying absolutely no attention” and hovering over them with an electronic leash. I find it sad that there could be a future where not putting electronic tracking devices on children is considered anywhere even close to “paying absolutely no attention.”

SuperMouse's avatar

@keobooks I really don’t consider having a way to find out where my kid is “hovering over them with an electronic leash.” So what is your plan for when your daughter is old enough to go out on her own?

flutherother's avatar

It would depend on the circumstances and on the children whether it was going too far. It is nice to feel you can trust your kids and I suppose it is nice for the kids to feel they are trusted. This app tends to break that trust so I would not like to use it myself.

keobooks's avatar

@SuperMouse your exact quote here: “Not going too far. I’m all over it. It is almost a virtual leash!”

I am not going to use electronic equipment to track my daughter’s whereabouts. People have raised children for thousands of years without it and somehow we’ve managed not to die out.

filmfann's avatar

I have no problem with this. It is a parent’s job to know where their kids have been.
I know a lot of children’s advocates who will say it is too intrusive, but they can suck it.

SuperMouse's avatar

@keobooks yep, I have no problem keeping track of where my kids are. I also don’t believe it is going too far. The “virtual leash” part was said with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.

As I said upthread, talk to me when your daughter is a teenager because I’ll believe it when I see it. Listening to self-righteous parents of toddlers talking about how easy it will be when they have teens is almost as unbearable as listening to non-parents judge how tantrums are handled.

keobooks's avatar

I’m self righteous because I don’t believe that tracking a kid’s every move is weird? Do you think that I should “SUCK IT” too as FilmFann suggested?

So, you’re not using the app right now. Does this mean that whatever you’re doing now isn’t working? What’s wrong? Why aren’t you using it this very minute if it so obviously seems like only crappy parents don’t use it.

Thanks for calling me self righteous. Thanks for not taking the argument too far. Thanks. You rock. Just go ahead and tell me to suck it while you’re at it.

SuperMouse's avatar

@keobooks there is absolutely nothing not working right now. I am not using the app because I haven’t let my children have cell phones yet. They also do not go out on their own very often, when they do I know where they are and what they are doing. When they do get cell phones they will have the app.

FYI, your crack about how “We are supposed to be teaching them independence and responsibility” sounds pretty self-righteous to me. As did this one “I am not going to use electronic equipment to track my daughter’s whereabouts. People have raised children for thousands of years without it and somehow we’ve managed not to die out.” You also did a great job of sounding self-righteous in the clip right above this one.

Oh and if you have an issue with @filmfann telling anyone to suck it (not sure he was talking to you though), take it up with @filmfann and leave me out of it.

keobooks's avatar

When I was a kid in the 80s, they were selling these DIY drug tests so you could randomly check your kids for drugs. There was a girl in my high school whose father made her pee in a cup every week to make sure she wasn’t using drugs even though at the time, she never used them. He would check her mileage on her car and if she ever drove over whatever was exactly between home and school, she had a lot of explaining to do. At some point they took the door off her bedroom and ransacked her room doing random searches. Finally they ended up getting an expensive alarm system in the home to make sure she didn’t sneak out. She ended up one of the most screwed up kids I ever knew and was in and out of rehab and god knows what she’s doing right now.

This isn’t just some pontificating self righteous smug thing I’m copping. I’ve seen the damage a short leash can do. There are MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY ways to take care of your kids without tracking them. If it comes down to tracking my kids on an electronic device, that means I seriously screwed up somewhere down the line.

To me, tracking on this level is crossing a line. It’s a core belief. It’s not just some whim. I am totally against this. This would be like someone telling me that I’ll have to beat her half to death one day to get her to obey.

jerv's avatar

All I can say (other than responding to individual posts here) is that I see so much idealistic blind optimism and potential for abuse in something like this that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

@keobooks That girl you describe is EXACTLY what parents want; a kid who will be perfect until they become an adult and then fall apart upon reaching adulthood. It proves how good parents they were and how their overbearing nature worked and the consequences of being even the least bit soft, lenient, or trusting, and how it’s impossible to survive without that constant invasiveness.

@SuperMouse If you are that afraid of stupid choices then you are not prepared for life, or maybe you don’t even know what life is. If your kids don’t have at least enough common sense to avoid danger by their teens, you did something wrong. Teach your kids, and then trust them. If you cannot do that then you are saying that you are a bad teacher and never should have been a parent.

@zenvelo Exactly so.

SuperMouse's avatar

@jerv I am not afraid of my kids making stupid choices and I trust my kids as all three of them have pretty good heads on their shoulders. That being said, teenagers can and do make stupid choices. I am counting on my kids doing so, facing the consequences, and learning from their mistakes. I believe it is the responsibility of parents to give those kids a relatively safe environment in which to make those mistakes and the opportunity to learn from them without any major life altering/destroying consequences. I refuse to believe that letting my teens run amok is the best way to prepare them for “the real world”. I am not saying, nor am I even insinuating that I am a bad parent or that I never should have become a parent. I am saying that there is value in monitoring your kid’s whereabouts.

For the record I have never ransacked me kids’ rooms or subjected them to drug testing. What I do do is keep the lies of communication open. I know their friends and their friends’ parents. I go to their sports and school events. I stay involved in their lives.

The truth seems to be that there is a fundamental difference of opinion here that cannot be bridged and I think we are going to have to agree to disagree.

jerv's avatar

@SuperMouse That post sounds a lot more reasonable than your previous posts in this thread.

cheebdragon's avatar

Parents who know where their children are! How awful! Don’t they know that kids NEVER lie to their parents, they are always EXACTLY where they say they will be.

If I’m going to pay $400—$600 for a cell phone plus a monthly bill, I want to know where the god damn phone is if it needs to be found.

Only138's avatar

I’m not against it. I think its kinda cool. But, I also believe that this should only be used when “needed”. Kids deserve the benefit of the doubt just like the rest of us. But, because we are here to mentor and guide them through parts of life that we might have fucked up a little on….this is a handy tool.

jerv's avatar

@Only138 That is why I specifically mentioned concerns about the potential for abuse.

Only138's avatar

Sweet! :)

Judi's avatar

I have the “find my iPhone app which does the same thing. I guess if he wanted to, my husband could monitor my movements. Thank goodness I have nothing to hide because I live my find my iPhone app.

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