1Tracking Apps for Children
Let’s talk about tracking apps for children,The author asks caution to the parents in the use of these technologies, since the companies use the tracking to obtain benefits and there is risk of leakage of private data.
The use of self- tracking and personal surveillance technologies has increased considerably in the last decade. Currently there are applications to control movement , health , attention , sleep , diet and even sexual activity of people.
Some of the most thorny problems are those posed by applications designed to track others, such as those created for parents to watch over their children . For example, some specifically allow parents to control the location of their child’s GPS, who they call, what text messages they write, what applications they use, what they see on the Internet, and the phone numbers of their contacts.
I am a bioethicist specializing in the ethics of new technologies, and as such I am concerned that these tracking technologies transform prudent paternity into vigilance.
These are the reasons for my concern.
1. Companies use tracking apps to get benefits
The first has to do with my misgivings about the technology itself.
A report prepared in 2017 by a marketing research company calculates that, in 2022, only health monitoring technologies will reach a gross income of 71,900 million dollars .
The bulk of the benefit is not product of the device itself, but of the data that is extracted from the users.
In order to obtain as much data as possible, the applications strive for the person to use them constantly. For this they use automatic notifications, in addition to other design techniques.
Frequently, these data are sold to other companies, including advertising agencies and those dedicated to organizing political campaigns . The main purpose of these programs is not the well-being of the people, but the benefit that the data allow.
When parents track their children, they help businesses get the most out of profits. If the information about a child loses its anonymity and falls into the wrong hands, the child could be in danger.
2. The risk of leaking private data by Tracking Apps
Also, there are important risks to privacy .
A study conducted in 2014 by the security company Symantec found that even seemingly untraceable devices can be traced without the need for a cable connection because their privacy protection functions are insufficient.
Information related to the whereabouts of a person can reveal valuable information about it. In the case of children, others could very easily use their tracking data
That same year, another study conducted by computer experts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revealed, for example, that many Android mobile applications for health control send non-encrypted information over the Internet . Almost all of them track the user’s location. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Catholic University of Louvain have found that four locations with timestamps are enough to unequivocally identify 95% of the people, making all publicity promises paperless.
Information related to the whereabouts of a person can reveal valuable information about it. In the case of children, others could very easily use their tracking data.
3. Tracking Apps can cause a loss of confidence
Another cause for concern when tracking children has to do with the risk of losing confidence in parents.
Social scientists have shown that trust is fundamental in relationships of intimacy , including healthy parent-child relationships. It is a necessary element for the development of commitment and the feeling of security. A child’s sense of personal privacy is a key component of trust.
A 2019 study shows (about tracking apps) that monitoring a child can undermine their feelings of trust and attachment. In fact, it can have counterproductive effects to the point of pushing him to rebellion.
In my opinion, this risk is much more serious than those that led parents to watch over their children.