Some of the more thorny problems arise from apps designed to track others, like those made for parents to . For example, parents to monitor their child’s GPS location, who they call, what they text, which apps they use, what they view online and the phone number of their contacts.
Here are three reasons why.
Companies are tracking for profit
The first reason has to do with concerns over the tech itself.
The lion’s share of the profit is not in the device itself, but in the data drawn from its users.
To get as much data as they can, these apps work hard to keep one constantly using them via push notifications and other design techniques.
When parents track children, they help companies maximize their profits. Should a child’s information become de-anonymized and fall into the wrong hands, this could put one’s child at risk.
Risks of leaking private data
That same year, a study by computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that many Android mobile health applications, for example, send . Nearly all of these apps monitor one’s location. Researchers at MIT and the Catholic University of Louvain found that just four could uniquely identify 95% of individuals, making promises of anonymity hollow.
Information related to people’s whereabouts can reveal valuable data about them. In the case of children, their tracking data could very easily be used by someone else.
It can break trust
Another reason why tracking one’s child is worrisome has to do with the risk of breaking their trust.
Social scientists have shown that trust is central to , including healthy parent-child relationships. It is for the development of commitment and feelings of security. A child’s sense of personal privacy is a of this trust.
This risk, I would argue, is perhaps far more serious than those leading parents to track their children in the first place.
A few exceptions
While I think that tracking one’s child is often unethical, there are some cases where it may be warranted.
If a parent has good reasons to suspect that their child is suicidal, involved in violent extremism, or engaged in other activities that threaten their life or that of others, the best course of action may involve breaking trust, invading privacy and monitoring the child.
But those are the exceptions, not the rule. Think twice before tracking your kids.