Although I don't have biological progeny of my own, I've done a fair amount of genuine child rearing in my time. So I'm not insensitive or unaware of the concerns many parents have. (Unless somebody wants put forth that old bromide that says: "if they're not your own it's not the same. Because if that's the case, we might as well just end the discussion now. )
Far be it from me to belittle anyone's experience with raising children, seriously. But I do have to say that while caring for someone else's children has it's own great and valid burden of consequences, when you are ultimately
responsible from cradle to graduation for the health, welfare, and social viability of a brand-new human being that fruited from your very own loins, the stakes are higher and the ties run deeper than any other. If you want to end the discussion, fair enough. That's just my experience.
I had written some other blatherings, but then I realized something. First of all:
You don't point electronic surveillance/control technology at a loved one. At least not in my school of ethics.
With this, I whole-heartedly concur
Welll... there was that period of time when I was working night shift and my wife was working during the day, that we used one of those "Baby monitor" things so I could wake up when my son did. The alternative would have been to curl up on the floor in the kid's room. Not gonna happen. Is that surveillance? Yes. Did it cross the line? In that situation, no. But I digress...
If I thought flat-out surveillance was the only viable methodology for keeping my child in line, then I have failed as a parent. No questions. Then I realized the reason I am not opposed to this app is that (in my opinion) it fundamentally does not cross the line into surveillance. What is it then? You alluded to it:
In this case, I would have liked it more if she came up with something that sent an autoresponse back to let her know the phone had received the message - and then let her little darling know that if HE didn't also respond within a reasonable amount of time, he was grounded.
Back when I was a kid, "grounded" meant that I did something stupid, and as a consequence, I was not allowed to do certain things for a period of time. That worked pretty well, but only because I was at home in the presence of my parents who could immediately exercise the appropriate restraints on my liberty. In the case of the situations that gave rise to the reasoning behind this app, the child in question is outside of the parent's sphere of immediate influence
. Sending a text saying "I know you got this message, respond or you're grounded" is somewhat toothless. That tells him/her "I can do what I want until I decide to go home and face the gauntlet". Ah, but temporarily disable their phone, especially kids of this generation, and you get their attention. This app is, or should not be more than, akin to a grounding tool
. Parents could easily do (and have done) worse.
So when somebody comes to me and says "Well I remember how out of control I was at that age. We all were." I have to call BS on that and say: "Speak for yourself." Because most of us weren't. And since I deal with enough kids to appreciate how smart and aware of what's going on most of them are, it's not just simple belief on my part. They're just as sick and tired of the jerks they have to deal with as the rest of us are.
Yes, I've met almost as many very smart, polite, aware kids that I would be proud to call my own, and please forgive me for implying that all kids are going to be stupid just because I was. To be honest, that isn't exactly what I meant (and for the record, I had pretty good parents and a mostly happy, secure childhood; I really had no excuse...).
Perhaps I should have phrased it that all kids have the potential
to do dumb/dangerous/ill-conceived things simply by virtue that they are immature humans; works in progress whose decision-making faculties aren't fully 'in gear' until life experience has galvanized into genuine wisdom. I've met enough full-grown adults still struggling with maturity to be anything but reassured that children left to their own devices will turn out peachy. Until you can give me a 100% guarantee on some methodology of this nebulous concept we call "parenting" that will produce ideal citizens, then erring on the side of caution is rather the smart thing to do.
So when I hear people saying: "don't make me feel any less if I used it because I wanted to know if my kid was still alive or not" I suspect they too feel there is something intrinsically wrong with using an app like this one.
Nope. I stand by my original thought on this one. IMO, this app does not cross the line into surveillance. I haven't seen in my son any behavior that would warrant me actually using it, but I can definitely see the potential for situations where I needed to say to him "No, really, you need to call me back now". Keyloggers, GPS trackers, text message mirrors (#1 request by parents for keeping tabs on out-of-control kids when I worked at Sprint) are all technologies I would never
feel comfortable with, because you are correct; effective parenting makes these things completely unnecessary and obsolete. Use of these sorts of things is indeed a 'red flag' that parenting has failed.
But that reminds me of a story...
When my son was about 5, I was home with him, and was talking on the phone with my wife, who was at work. My son was standing at the front door, which was open, but the screen door was closed. While I was talking, he suddenly opened the screen door and went down the front porch stairs. Took about 3 nanoseconds. I cut off conversation with my wife, told her what just happened and that I had to go. By the time I had gotten outside, my son was gone, nowhere to be seen. After spending about 5 minutes screaming for him at the top of my lungs around the neighborhood, I found him just over the hill (maybe 20 yards from the house), talking to the neighbor girl (also approximately 5 years old, and without her parent's knowledge of her whereabouts) about puppies. I sternly reminded him of the necessity of not leaving the house without my permission or supervision and frog-marched him and the neighbor girl back over the hill. That was many years ago, and I hate to admit it, but at that moment I would have given my right arm for a motion-tracking neighborhood drone.
I like my right arm. I like it very much.
But I love my son.
That said, If I caught wind that my son was up to something illegal or life-threatening and he didn't own up to it, I would be sorely tempted to use whatever technology I felt appropriate to find out what was really going on. Failed parent as I might be at that moment, the least I could do is attempt to stop the tragedy from playing out further. Maybe the better option at that point would be to involve the appropriate authorities? That has it's own caveats that I'd rather not get into...
40hz: I agree with enough of what you've said that I think the disagreement hinges upon our opinions of exactly how draconian
this app is, or could be. In my opinion, not so much. Perhaps we can agree to disagree?