What Are the Privacy Rights of Children Related to GPS Tracking Devices?


The introduction of the Global Positioning System (GPS) allows parents to track the whereabouts of their children. Came into circulation in the 1970s, these tracking devices have a host of applications today. Although popularized by the commercial sector, these devices are adopted by many families worldwide for domestic applications. Child monitoring has become one of the most popular applications of family GPS tracking. From tracking the whereabouts of toddlers, giving attention to children with special needs to tracking the activities of adolescent drivers, the GPS can be a boon to parents.

Employing GPS tracking devices for monitoring the activities of children might be an advantageous development but it is not entirely free from controversies. Such tracking has sparked a debate in the society as many people fail to reconcile to the breach of privacy. This article attempts to address the legal concerns associated with such parental supervision.

Legal Concerns Involved in Child GPS Tracking

Just like adults, children also have privacy rights. However, as minors, their rights are limited. Discernibly, there are no such regulations that refrain parents from tracking their kids; it is absolutely justifiable to monitor children with GPS tracking wearable devices. But in some cases, the violation of privacy has become a major concern. For instance, the Children’s Privacy Protection Act of 1998, in the US, restricts the operators from extracting information about children below the age of 13. Apart from this, privacy is a major concern when it comes to pedophiles, sex offenders and outsiders. If not properly regulated, GPS tracking can lead to potential hazards. Instances of exploitation of these devices are not entirely unheard of. So, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the legal rights involved in such tracking.

Privacy Rights of Children

There are many legal and ethical questions raised against parental surveillance. The privacy rights of children have triggered a violent debate in the society, as many people unable to fully appreciate the benefits of tracking devices. The following segment will walk you through the major parameters of children’s privacy rights.

  • Parental Rights

Generally, a child is legally accepted as an adult at age of 21. But the laws are not consistent; different places have different legal age limits. Before implementing tracking devices, it is important to find out about the local rules and regulations. It is firmly believed that parents have the legal rights to use surveillance devices to control children’s activities as children owe their obedience to their parents. For a host of reasons, such as emotional vulnerability, inability to take critical decisions and etc, parents have the right to supervise their kids, taking disciplinary actions as and when required. Most laws permit parents to control the activities of children. However, there are some restrictions. Once the kids reach the legal adult age, parents cannot track them without their consent. In any case, kids must be properly trained and counselled about the nuances of GPS tracking before implementing it.

  • Ownership

Although different countries have different laws, it is generally permissible to closely observe the movements of children. Since the commodities accessed by children belong to parents, they have the right to track the possessions of children. Talking in terms of law, tracking children using GPS tracking devices is completely justifiable, provided parents are operating the devices responsibly. Nevertheless, there is a need to educate children about such devices. Before introducing kids to these wearable tracking devices, proper counselling must be sought, allowing them to understand the need for protection and security.

  • Tracking Adult Children

As there are no predetermined rules for tracking kids, it is difficult to determine where to draw the line. Tracking adult children is particularly problematic. As kids approach adolescence, they gradually become stubborn to changes. Many parents have reported difficulties while handling adolescent kids. As adult kids are no longer impressionable, they are difficult to supervise. This is why caution must be exercised when tracking young adults. The need for security and protection must be communicated to them, helping them understand the necessity of surveillance.

  • Consent of Children

As opposed to the popular misconception, it is necessary to take kids’ consent before tracking them. Even if the children are below the legal age, parents must thoroughly consult their kids before monitoring them. To avoid any legal hassle or discontent, all the security concerns must be thoroughly discussed with the kids. It is unethical to track kids and their possessions without their consult. Although they are minors and have limited rights, it is critical to openly discuss the purpose of these tracking devices with kids to seek their cooperation.

GPS tracking has a number of notable advantages. But its impact on ensuring the well-being of children is unprecedented. GPS tracking, if regulated properly, can prove to be a potent solution to parents. Moreover, parents are recommended to develop an insight into children’s privacy rights before proceeding to ensure the safety of their kids.