The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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US Social Impact Bazaar
Mary Bradley Sutherland, Photo and Graphic Editor • April 18, 2024

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Arts + Life
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Callie Coats and Mary Elise EstessApril 16, 2024

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Committed seniors pose in front of their respective college banners.
Senior Signing Day
April 12, 2024
StuCo steps up
StuCo steps up
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On Track

Parents use GPS tracking applications on their daughters’ cell phones and vehicles

GPS TRACKER Senior Ashley looks at her iPhone’s AT&T Family Map, a cell phone feature which allows her parents to track her whereabouts. Photo by Sydney

Ashley’s parents use the AT&T Family Map to track her not because they don’t trust her. Rather, they use the service predominantly for safety reasons.

iPhone tracking apps and family phone GPS tracking through cellphone service providers have started to become a prevalent utility used by parents across the nation and at Hockaday.

As teenagers begin to drive and become more independent, concern among parents augments regarding the whereabouts and safety of their children. And increasingly advanced technology makes it easier and cheaper for parents to more effectively find the exact whereabouts of their children: for issues of both trust and safety.

In a March survey on 126 Upper School students, 19 percent reported that their parents use some sort of device to track their whereabouts. Eighty-four percent of these students’ parents track them using a cell phone service.

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“They trust me, so they know I’m not going where I’m not supposed to go,” Ashley said.

Other parents, however, use more than just a cellphone tracking device. The parents of junior Nicki,* placed a tracker in her car that notifies them of where she is, where she has been and how fast she was driving at a certain point.

When she drives over 20 percent of the speed limit, her mom receives a text alerting her that her daughter was speeding. Nicki said she and her mother had a talk before the device was installed in her car so that Nicki would be familiar with this new system.

“I was annoyed at first,” Nicki said. “I had asked my mom why she was doing this, because I hadn’t done anything that merited her needing to track me.”

But, like Ashley, Nicki’s mother primarily uses this device to ensure the safety of her daughter, and Nicki understands the benefits of this system.

“If she did it because she thought that I was sneaking out of the house, then I would probably be more annoyed because I don’t really do that,” Nicki said.

Upper School Counselor Dr. Margaret Morse said these tracking devices can sometimes cause friction in the parent-child relationship if the device is used for means other than safety. But it ultimately depends on when and under what circumstances the tracking system was introduced.

“If it’s introduced to the child from the very beginning as just a part of the responsibility that comes with having a phone or a car, I don’t think the kid should see that as a problem,” she said.

Nicki said she understands the safety benefits the devices provides for her. If she were to get lost, be in a wreck or in any other dangerous circumstance, her parents would know where she is.

“It means I can’t go at 80 miles per hour and drive into another car,” Nicki said. “It’s the sort of thing where it annoys me in the teen angst-y kind of way, but I’m okay with it just because I know it’s for the right reasons, not because [my mom] doesn’t trust me.”

Parents did not wish to comment on this matter.

Ashley said her parents used Family Map more frequently when she first started driving to ensure her safe arrival. Trust was never an issue in their relationship, as she consistently texts her parents about changing plans and where she will be, with who and at what time.

The tracking service forces her to be honest about where she is.

“Because I have the tracking thing, I’m super honest about where I’m going and what I’m doing,” Ashley said.

Morse said she believes that it is for parents to have peace of mind and have some confirmation of where their children are at a given time.

“I sometimes get a little annoyed because my friends can go wherever they want and not have to worry about prying questions from their mom,” Nicki said. “But at the same time I know that there’s going to be some situation where I’m going to be really thankful I have it.”

-Anisha

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