Child tracking is now the norm – study

TO study conducted at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev which examined parental tracking of their children using location-based apps found that the phenomenon, once considered a sign of excessive parenting, is now expanding into defining parenting styles as “healthy”. The article was published in the magazine Mobile media and communication.

A variety of parental tracking apps for your kids are now available on smartphones, easy to download, and usually even free. A study conducted at the Department of Communication at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev examined the question of whether its use constitutes a denial of children’s freedoms or vice versa.

The study found that if once parents who used to follow their children’s smartphones were perceived as overprotective parents, today the situation is completely different.

Dozens of in-depth interviews were conducted over the course of a year with mothers of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15. The study raised questions about the use of parental watch apps in a cultural and social context. For example, mothers were asked about their relationship with their children, if they thought they owned their children’s phones, their family’s communication patterns, their family’s general approach to media use, etc.

In professional literature, there are four main parenting styles: authoritarian (considered an ideal style), tyrannical, permissive, and negligent. In recent years, other concepts have been coined that describe patterns of excessive parenting, the most famous of which is “helicopter parenting” (excessive and unhealthy participation in the lives of children by parents who “hover “constantly about their children). According to the researchers, excessive parenting patterns have developed in response to parental risks and concerns, which are mostly reported in the media.

Israeli children with school bags before the first day of school and kindergarten outside their home in Jerusalem on August 31, 2020.The Israeli secular state education system will open tomorrow. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90)

The study findings challenge the putative relationship between parental follow-up and strict parenting styles. It turns out that the use of surveillance technology does not reflect a particular parental ideology, but rather expresses the current reality and the widespread use of new technologies. However, the study findings show that parents with a healthy (authoritarian) style differ from parents with more rigid (tyrannical) styles in the way they track their children. In other words, while almost everyone tracks their children, the question is how and to what extent children are involved in the process.

“Parental expressions of trust in their children can be generated through negotiations that jointly establish the rules for the use of the application,” recommends Dr. Avi Marciano-Gilboard, who led the study.

“If the application is installed with the consent of parents and children in the terms of its use, it will create the trust that is so important to the relationship.”

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