GPS tracker watches in schools: Introduction
Should GPS tracker watches in schools be allowed?
Nothing can be more terrifying and induce panic than to loose your child in a mall, in a crowd or even on a family outing. It is a natural part of most parents to worry about the safety of their children. One of the questions, in an unsafe country like South Africa, which is at the order of the day, is whether allowing GPS tracker watches in schools could be the answer to your child’s protection and safety. GPS means global positioning satellite and a chip is used in a variety of GPS devices such as watches, clothing, cell phones and clothes (a surgeon can even implant a GPS chip into a child’s body). A GPS is a technology which informs you where people and things (e.g. your car and child) are at all times.
In thís article the focus is especially on GPS tracker watches in pre-primary schools in South Africa. Some of the devices can track children continuously, while others only start to respond if a child leaves the boundaries of a specific area. Some tracker watches even have a panic button and / or a cellphone to make an urgent call. Technology offers more options and choices, but it also implies that more decisions should be made by parents. Parents admit that they are under “responsibility pressure” as well as “peer pressure” to decide whether it will be good to buy their child a GPS tracker watch to know exactly where their child is and to protect their child. What complicates the tracker watch option more is the controversy among parents and professionals like teachers and therapists whether the answer to buy a tracker watch for your pre-primary child should be a yes or a no.
Like so many other puzzling questions with regards to your child, which have no definite yes or no answer, this is the conundrum here. Now what should a parent do? First know the pros and the cons of a GPS tracker watch for your pre-primary child.
GPS tracker watches in schools: Pros of tracker watches
- Parental peace that comes from knowing where your child is all the time.
- Should there be an emergency, for example a kidnapping, the police and others can immediately start to search for your child and find him more quickly.
- Parents can be more relaxed when their child goes for a play date to a friend, instead of saying no and deprive their kid of the chance to better socialise; or saying yes, but worrying about the safety of their child all the time.
GPS tracker watches in schools: Cons of tracker watches
- Children are children and can break the device or take it off when they play.
- A child attacker who is well informed will look for a GPS tracker watch and get rid of it.
- Strangers aren’t the greatest threat to a child’s safety, sometimes a close friend and / or family member can be more dangerous and be well aware to remove the GPS tracker watch.
- The GPS tracker watch gives parents security to know where their child is, but emotionally a child can become too dependent and over reliant on his parents.
- The change exists that parents as well as their child rely too much on the watch and that parents tend to omit to teach their child about his own safety as well as safety rules, for example what to do when a stranger approach you and how to remove yourself from dangerous situations.
- Technology is not perfect and systems can fail.
- Be careful not to become a helicopter parent.
GPS tracker watches in schools: What is a helicopter parent?
“The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969 book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a dictionary entry in 2011. Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders near Detroit and author of Anxiety Disorders: The Go-To Guide. (Taken from What is helicopter parenting? Parents.com).
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GPS tracker watches in schools: What do professionals say?
Dr. Erik Fisher, psychologist and author of The art of empowered Parenting says that there are indeed pros, but examples of pitfalls are:
- A child gets the idea that he’s never too safe and today kids already are scared of too many things.
- The replacement of being an active parent which includes teaching your child problem solving skills and to be able to make decisions.
Fisher’s advice to parents is to determine their real motives for having a GPS tracker watch on their child. Parents should further determine how their child feels about the device, but it’s more applicable for older children than for pre-primary kids, as most pre-primary kids are still in the development phase where they find it difficult to express their feelings in language.
A psychologist from Ohio New York who does research on parenting, says the following: “I can understand how a parent might want to know if their child is having a problem, but I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful for children to always be able to turn to their parents when they are struggling. We want children to develop problem solving skills and the capacity to manage stress.” No matter where you as parent stand in the debate, remember the “traditional” methods of looking after your children and know where they are. Know what your child wear in case of separation and report. Teach and repeat and point out boundaries in their different environments where they will be at different times of the day. Teach your child to whom he can go for help.
GPS tracker watches in schools: Pre-primary Schools’ dilemmas
Dilemmas / questions / challenges?
Have you ever thought that technology also causes challenges at your child’s school?
Think of the following practical examples: Pre-primary education is all about developing your child’s skills in order to reach his full potential as a whole child (emotionally, physically, socially, mentally) and to get him ready for school. Activities are therefore carefully planned and rotated to give your child the opportunity to develop and practice these skills. These developmental activities include sand, clay, paint, water, drawings, etcetera. In order to be able to play freely many kids want to take off their GPS tracker watches. And then, it’s watches everywhere, children everywhere, teachers who need to keep a good eye on the children and watches full of sand, water, paint and sometimes crying children as their parents told them to take good care of their tracker watches.
Another factor to consider at school is the right to privacy. Some GPS tracker watches also have a small microphone attached to the watch, which allow parents to listen to what is happening around their child, almost like a baby monitor.
This could be problematic, and could infringe other children, or the teacher’s right to privacy, and hence should be addressed by the school’s management team, in consultation with the school’s legal advisor.
So, let’s get back to the point again. Please go back and read the pro’s and cons of buying a GPS tracker watch for your pre-primary child. You want a child with strong “wings” who can fly. Keep that in mind and make the best decision for the sake of your child.
GPS tracker watches in schools: References
Do You Know Where Your Kids Are? GPS Tracking for Children; www.education.com/magazine/article/gps_Kids/
Tracking devices are getting increasingly popular; https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/parenting-tips/have-your-say-tracking-devices-for-children/
Pros and cons of GPS watches to track your kids; http://www.digitalrise.biz/consumer-electronics/pros-and-cons-of-gps-watches-to-track-your-kids/
GPS Tracking children: Good or Bad Idea; http://www.tracking-system.com/for-consumers/gps-tracking-children/51-gps-tracking-children-good-or-bad-idea.html