Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Technology is continually refining how we parent – and giving us (and our kids) many new options that may, or may not, be a good thing. Today Golnar Khosrowshahi of GoGoNews shares her take on a controversial way the comings and goings of kids in Brazil are being monitored.
The city of Vitoria da Conquista in Brazil has overhauled its school uniforms to make a new kind of fashion statement. All 43,000 school-aged children in this district aged 4-14 are now stepping out with GPS chips embedded in their school uniforms. When the children cross the threshold onto school grounds, parents receive a text message. Similarly, when the children don’t show up or leave school grounds, parents are again, notified.
Putting aside the many work arounds that kids will inevitably come up with to counteract this new measure, this action begs the question as to why we are relying on something or someone else to parent for us. According to the school district, deploying this initiative was in response to high truancy rates. However, in some other contexts, it could also make sense as related to issues of safety and kidnapping. Take an average school district in North America where parents are not exposed to daily threats on their children’s safety, relying on GPS stirs a debate raising a number of issues:
1) Are we relying on technology to parent for us? I am relying on the fact that if as parents we do a good enough job instilling the right kinds of values in our children, then we wouldn’t need to stuff their clothes with GPS chips to enforce a desired behavior.
2) Are our children entitled to their privacy and does questioning our kids foster a relationship of mistrust between caregiver and child? Personally, I believe that respecting our children creates the right environment for them to, in turn, be respectful of others. That being said, then perhaps questioning their trust is also tantamount to lack of respect. I would think that is precisely the message this innovation is sending to a child – since you are not to be trusted – regardless of your behavior in the past – you will be monitored going forward.
3) Is this one of those times when, as parents, we look the other way? Isn’t skipping a little school a part of growing up and finding our way, anyway? While we can never advocate truancy on a regular basis to our children, we can all relate to that special day Ferris Bueller played hooky! Maybe this innovation is giving us a little too much information. Truancy is definitely not a desired behavior to perpetuate but having too much information about what our kids are doing may also inhibit them making some of the necessary mistakes on their own paths to growing up.
Golnar Khosrowshahi is the founder of GoGoNews, a website that publishes up to the minute, age appropriate current events for children. She has also written for The Huffington Post and been featured in many technology and parenting related columns. You can read featured guest blog posts by her here at Red-Hot Parenting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month.Add a Comment