Is it normal to track your kids using location-based apps?

A Ben-Gurion University of the Negev study found that it is a new norm in Western society to track your children this way.

 "I liken the written law to the iPhone." (photo credit: UNSPLASH)
"I liken the written law to the iPhone."
(photo credit: UNSPLASH)

How normal is it to keep track of your child's whereabouts with a location-based application? A Ben-Gurion University of the Negev study from May suggests that it is very normal and doesn't necessarily speak to a particular parenting style.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed Mobile Media and Communication, examined parental surveillance through in-depth interviews with mothers of children in middle school. Interviews included questions about parents' relationships with their children, family communication and how they define phone ownership – and in doing so raised the issue of tracking app use in a social and cultural context.

The study's results challenged the idea that there is a link between tracking children with location-based apps and strict parenting styles.

"Digital tracking by parents has become a norm for Western societies," said Dr. Avi Marciano Gilbord, who completed the research.

 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Dr. Avi Marciano Gilbord. (credit: Courtesy) Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Dr. Avi Marciano Gilbord. (credit: Courtesy)

"Modern parenting makes use of technological tools to handle risky situations and fear that, in most cases, are only loosely rooted in reality.

"Parents can express trust in their children by negotiating the rules that will determine when the tracking apps are used," he said. "If the applications are installed with children and parents agreeing to the way they are used, it can create a trust that is important to the relationship."