Teens and their parents have seemingly conflicting goals: teens want their independence and parents want their kids to make safe, wise decisions. While the intentions of both parties are usually good, they often muck up the presentation––the parents ask too many questions about their teens’ whereabouts, which makes them feel attacked. This usually results in their teens feeling affronted and shutting down, which leads to their parents doubting and worrying more.
What if there was a way for you to give them more freedom without sacrificing your peace of mind?
As technology has improved in the last several years, there are many different GPS tracker options to help parents and teens with their age-old argument about checking in and getting the third degree when their parents don’t know their whereabouts. Far from being a way for parents to “stalk” their teens, GPS can actually be a powerful tool that allows teens to have more agency within the boundaries their parents have set.
Often, teens don’t take umbrage at the idea of their parents knowing where they are; rather, they are bothered by the constant need to check in and give a report of where they are and what they are doing. Peers may tease them for calling or texting their parents frequently, they may feel like they aren’t trusted, or they may simply be so busy with their friends or extracurriculars that they forget to check in. Needing to call or text to check in can feel like a constant reminder that the independence your teen craves is out of their reach.
However, as parents, it is our job to keep tabs on our teens. We can’t abdicate our responsibility to look after their well-being, even if they are getting older and increasing in their responsibilities. We still have to set limits and give consequences when those limits are not respected.
Using a GPS tracker can take nagging out of the equation. With a GPS tracker, you can see where your teen is and receive alerts when they change their location. You can even set approved boundaries (known as a “geofence”) and receive alerts when the tracker goes beyond those boundaries. This allows you to know where your teen is—and can even offer peace of mind knowing they are within a safe space such as a neighborhood, park, or school. It gives your teen an opportunity to show their trustworthiness without your constant reminders or hovering while also keeping them fully accountable for being where they are supposed to be.
In addition to creating a geofence, GPS trackers can also be set to alert you according to the parameters you set. You can set them to alert you every time a location change occurs, or you can have a specific time interval set where you will receive your next alert, such as hourly.
You will need to decide what type of tracker will best serve your family. Some trackers are specifically installed in cars, whereas others can be worn like jewelry, clipped onto a bag, or belt loop like a key chain. Deciding the best option for your family will depend on what you need to accomplish with your teen. If you are simply keeping track of their car use and general activities without requiring frequent check-ins, a car GPS might be the most practical. If your child doesn’t drive yet or if you need more current information about their physical whereabouts, you might need to use a GPS tracker that can be worn on their person.
Your teen may resent the idea that you are tracking them with GPS if you don’t sit down and have an honest, upfront conversation about why a GPS tracker is a valuable tool for the both of you. In fact, you might want to plan on having ongoing conversations about the GPS tracker and the boundaries you set as your teen either earns your trust or requires a little more supervision, whatever the case may be.
If you’re not sure how to broach the conversation, you can start by asking your teen how they feel about checking in with you on their whereabouts. You can suggest that instead of calling or texting, it would be easier if you can receive alerts with the GPS device. If you are choosing to use a geofence, this might be a good time to explain what the alert boundaries are and when it’s appropriate to ask for exceptions.
This can also be a good time to reinforce your role as a parent and their goals as an adolescent. You can discuss how it is completely appropriate for them to desire greater independence as they get older, and how it is also appropriate and important for you as a parent to ensure thier safety. Explain how the GPS tracker can both increase their independence by requiring fewer check-ins while increasing your peace of mind by letting you see that they are honoring your trust.
Finally, let your teen know that you will continue to discuss and evaluate the role of the GPS tracker. Make a plan to talk on a schedule that works for both of you, whether that is monthly, quarterly, or more often. If they are uncomfortable with the supervision, talk about ways they can prove that they don’t require it, such as always honoring the geofence boundaries. Make sure they know that the device is meant to serve both of you, not restrict them or punish them.
By using open and honest communication, a GPS tracker can become a powerful tool to build trust and peace of mind with your teen. Many families have found success with devices like Logistimatic’s Pocket Tracker. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly to learn more!