As parents, it's only natural for you to worry about where your children are, who they are with, and what they are doing. However, it is just as important to respect their limitations and privacy. So how do you do both?
Nowadays, there are so many ways to use location monitoring that it could be overwhelming. It could be used to share your location on social media, find directions, book travel, and more. It's no wonder than many find location monitoring creepy! On the upside, since most people use location services nowadays, monitoring children can be easier and less-intrusive than it was before.
Recently, we wrote about why location monitoring your teens and tweens is not creepy. Put the idea into practice with these steps:
1. Have a discussion with your child.
Your child deserves privacy as much as you deserve to know where they are. Many parents tend to forget this and resort to invading their children's privacy. Not only is this ineffective, but it also strains the relationship between you and your child. Set aside some time for you and your child to talk. Inform them that you want to be able to locate them easily and your reasons for wanting to do so, no matter how "obvious" or "silly" you think your reasons are.
After you've covered this, ask your child what their opinions are on the matter and their reasons. Expect some (or even all) of your ideas and points to clash with one another; this is normal in any discussion. Try your best not to interrupt your child while they're speaking and listen to what they have to say. Keep track of your child's ideas to discuss them further afterwards, especially those that don't quite match with yours.
Stay calm and composed while you work out an agreement between you and your child. Make sure that you and your child agree on a set of terms such as the method(s) you're going to use to monitor their location and limitations on both sides. Doing this will make your child know that you trust them and that you respect them. It also shows that their opinions and feelings are valuable to you.
2. Go for a "test run."
You and your child's ideas might be a bit different than they were during the discussion. Because of this, the location monitoring method you agreed on during the discussion could be less (or sometimes more) effective than you originally thought it would be. Running a "test run" would help you pinpoint flaws in your original plan and resolve them with your child early on.
However, do not "make" your child do a test run. Try not to go overboard by giving them a set of instructions like where to go, who to go with, or the amount of time he/she should spend at each location. This would likely make them feel overly-conscious and make the whole thing feel "scripted." Instead, do a test run when your child actually has their own plans for the day.
This way, your child gets to go out with their friends while you get to do a test run at the same time. The most important thing to remember during this step is to make everything feel as "normal" and unscripted as possible for your child. Remember:
- Don't call them too often. Once every two hours or so is good enough.
- Don't text them too often. You'll only distract your child.
- Don't follow them around to make sure they aren't doing anything behind your back. Again, the whole point of planning this out with your child is so that you avoid being a "creepy" parent. Everything will fail if you do not trust your child, so trust them.
3. Make necessary changes and/or improvements to your plan.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you are fully satisfied with your method. Discuss any changes you'd like to make with your child and let them have their say too. Your child will grow and mature, and the way you monitor them will have to change along with them. Make sure that, as a parent, you remember to keep an open mind and welcome changes as they come along instead of trying to resist the inevitable.
The biggest benefit of location monitoring is that it will leave parents feeling confident about teens' activities and whereabouts every time they leave the house. It is only natural for parents to worry about the safety and welfare of children. Keep in mind that if young teens are doing what they are supposed to be doing, then the fact that you are using location monitoring shouldn't make a difference in their daily lives, but will provide you with true peace of mind.
Through uKnowKids' Family Map feature, parents can add geofences around teens' phones, enabling them to set up alerts when teens enter or leave a specific area. These check-in alerts can be recurring (parents can be notified about kids' whereabouts every day at 9 AM, for example) and/or scheduled for one event.
Stay positive and amazing, parents! Parenting is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, jobs you'll ever have in your life. We hope that you enjoy every milestone of this great journey. And remember, we're here to help!
Related Article: What is Geotagging and is it Safe for My Teens to be Doing It?