With all the apps today that parents can use to track their kids – Find My Friends, Life360, and others – kids often balk at their parents “stalking” them. Some teens even insist they have a right to privacy and their parents should not be following them.
Well, I’m afraid to say that actually, until kids turn 18, the age of adulthood, they don’t have a right to privacy. Plus, parents are responsible for their welfare and well-being and with all the dangers associated with new drivers, predators and other very real situations, I believe it’s ok for parents to follow their kids on those apps.
Really, it’s so nice that they have such loving parents who want to make sure they’re safe.
That said, there are some parameters that parents will want to consider, especially when their children turn 18. At that point, parents and children need to work out together what their agreements are for these apps.
I’m a big believer that when kids are young, if we have access to those kinds of apps, they can be really fantastic because there are times when a kid is in a car accident or a tire blew and the kid didn’t know where they were and the parents can find them easily.
It’s even helpful for grown-ups – some apps ensure safety at all ages, and to me that outweighs other factors.
And yet, I do feel sorry for kids these days because they can’t get away with some of what we got away with. Once, I went to the mall and skipped school for an hour, but the car broke down and my friends and I had to stay at the mall until after school and pretend we went there after school to call our parents to pick us up.
I do think we need to give our kids some trust and freedom. The goal of the app isn’t to check where they are all the time. But once in a while, if my kid is supposed to come home at midnight and it’s 12:03 and I haven’t seen him yet, I want to check to make sure he’s safe.
Where these apps prove problematic is with co-parents who do not trust one another. It can become a situation where you feel like your ex is stalking you, rather than making sure your child is safe.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen many instances of these apps being used inappropriately in a divorce. Sometimes I tell parents, “Listen, when this kid goes to the other house, they’re going to turn off their app and turn it back on when they’re back with you. The other parent is responsible for them during that time and for knowing where they’re at.”
We need to let go when our child goes to the other parent’s house. These apps are not for the purpose of criticizing an ex, figuring out where your ex is taking your children, watching to see if they’re late for school or hockey practice. They’re not to be used to drum up evidence to prove that your ex isn’t parenting correctly.
I’ve heard of ex-spouses making a comment like this: “Oh you must have been out late the other night because it was a school night and I went on Find Friends and it was 9 o’clock and you were still out.” That is not appropriate!!
In that case, the parent is just snooping on their ex’s parenting behaviors, and it is not cool.
In a divorce, it’s imperative to accept that your role is not to micromanage or even comment on how the other parent is with your children. You lost that right when you split.
If you’re concerned about your child’s curfew being consistent, or that they get enough sleep on school nights, then have a conversation with your ex and see if you can work together to set boundaries for both houses. You might succeed, and you might not – and if you don’t, you must make your peace about it.
And, keep in mind that your child will pick up on what you’re really doing. It’s not fair to your child to be the go-between for your fights. Do your best to work with your ex on parenting issues and then step away, letting them live their life – while you live yours.