So when we were teenagers, our parents had no idea where we were. I remember my dad had a rule that if I was going to be later than 11 p.m., my curfew, I had to call and check in and tell him where I was and when I would be home.
Let’s just say there were more than a few calls from phone booths (stop reading if you don’t know what this is), where my friends tried to block the traffic noise so that we could pretend we were safe and warm in someone’s house.
These days, we know exactly where our children are at all times thanks to GPS technology.
This is how most of my phone calls go with my girls:
Me: “Hi, what are you up to? Where are you?”
Daughter: Silence…”Why are you asking me where I am? You know exactly where I am. You can see it on your phone.”
This is all true. It’s easy to argue that we shouldn’t track our children, that it’s an invasion of privacy. But the converse of this is that the genie is out of the bottle. Why would you not want to know where your child is when technology has made it possible to have this information?
One of my good friends who grew up in Germany thinks the desire of American parents to know where their kids are and what they’re doing at all times is over the top, and doesn’t give them the opportunity to make mistakes on their own, and figure things out. While I do understand her argument, and I think it applies to a much greater degree to a college student, I take comfort in knowing that my teenage daughter has arrived at school, at dance practice or at work.
I am not hovering over my phone watching her every movement. In fact, I only look at it when I haven’t heard from her and am trying to figure out what her plans are. As you probably know, teenagers aren’t big on sharing their schedules with their parents. If she did this more often, I might not feel the need to look at the app.
And it goes both ways. My daughter asked why she can’t see me on our family locator app. She said this wasn’t fair. I agreed, and changed it so that my location is also visible to her, that way she knows if I am still at work, at the gym or the grocery store—a few of my regular haunts. I have no problem with her knowing where I am if it gives her comfort.
Who knows what technology will be available for the next generation of parents; I can’t even imagine the possibilities. But I know for me, knowing where my children are is a great comfort. I know exactly how many miles it is between our house and my college daughter’s dorm. When I see that she is there, 159 miles from home, I can sleep more soundly. And after all, isn’t that what we all want as parents, a good night’s sleep?
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.