Do You Know Where Your Kids Are? Google Sure Does.

Google Maps With Google Maps, you can now keep track of your family’s whereabouts and location history. It’s not something widely talked about, but maybe it should be.

Do you remember that old PSA that tells you that “It’s 10 P.M.” and asks “Do you know where your children are?” I do, because it always left me with a strange feeling–I laughed at the absurdity of it and then felt a chilly finger of creepiness etch down my spine because…

What if I ever became one of the MISSING???

Well now you don’t ever have to wonder about that question again. As long as your little geek is carrying around an Android smartphone or tablet (which more and more are these days…the popularity of such will certainly be evident on your little guy or gal’s Christmas list if they’re old enough to talk), you can always know where they’ve been.

Google keeps track of all that travel jazz and it’s easily accessible. Now you can squelch the laughter and rebuff the creepy-spinal-finger whenever you wonder where your children are by checking up on their location history.

But, a questions remains…

Is this a really cool feature from an increasingly tech-progressive company, or is it a really creepy-crawly sleight-of-hand move from an increasingly tech-omnipotent corporation?

Just What the Heck is this Durned Location History?

Location History Before we dive into the deep, dark depths of ethics, morals and the dangers of omnipotence, let’s go over exactly what this location history is and how it works.

Even though the feature has been around for years, I only just discovered it when I took a gander at this Tech Crunch article written by the great Greg Kumparak.

And I’ve got a feeling that many of you are only just hearing about it now.

But let me take you back a ways; back to when you first got your beloved Android device. When booting it up for the first time and moving as quickly as you could through the setup options, customizable display choices and long-winded agreements, you were probably less concerned with what you were signing up for and more keen on getting to that home screen and checking out the awesome apps and features that were awaiting you.

Well, one of those questions you were asked was if you wouldn’t mind if little ol’ Google could keep track of some information and store it in a database back in their Mountainview, California Googleplex. (Yes, it’s actually called the Googleplex…)

Among the VAST and CONSTANT stream of data being sent to the ‘plex are the coordinates of your whereabouts while carrying an Android device. And you can see it. Right now. Open up your Google Maps app, go to settings and check out your location history.

It’s an hour by hour account of your travels.

Now…is this a nice, productive tool or a bit of Big Brother style craziness?

Benefits of Using the Google Maps Location History

Home Alone The pros are pretty obvious:

  • Know where your kids and family have been
  • Catch them in a lie if they told you differently
  • Confirm their honesty by seeing that they told you straight

But, of course, the biggest benefit of this tool is in case of emergency. God forbid, if your little geek is nowhere to be found (for whatever reason…), you can log in and check on their whereabouts. This makes the app feature absolutely indispensable for nightmare scenarios.

So, to be honest, the pros here look pretty appealing, even if you choose not to test the credibility of your kids’ answers to “where have you been?”

Location History Drawbacks

Logo BUT. But, but, but. Is this really a boon to parenting or is it just an opportunity to second-guess your kids?

Sometimes, kids lie. This is a fact, and an understatement of one at that. Sometimes it’s for good reasons, sometimes not. But a great lesson I learned growing up was the horrible feelings that come with spouting off a lie…

Living with the guilt was just as big an impetus to never lie again as when I was actually got caught in one. It’s a life lesson and one that, for some people, is best learned privately.

And checking up on your kids’ whereabouts and trying to catch them in an untruth is a really great way to promote suspicion in a family environment. And suspicion breeds negativity. And negativity breeds unhappiness…

So, on this hand, the Google Maps Location History doesn’t really sound like a great thing after all.

Final Thoughts on the Location History Conundrum

Google Maps 2 So what do you do?

The pros are great and the cons are terrible. It is a conundrum.

Well, here’s my unsolicited advice (although, I guess if you’re reading this, the solicitation is kind of unspoken and inherent–kind of like when we skimmed so quickly through our Android setups…):

I say keep the feature turned on. If–and I sincerely hope you or your loved ones or anyone never has to deal with this particular scenario–something terrible happens, your kid has gone missing, and you have no clue about his/her whereabouts, then the tool will obviously be invaluable.

BUT. But, but, but. At all costs, resist the temptation of looking at it otherwise. Unless you’re seriously worried about your kid, you shouldn’t succumb to the enticement Google offers of looking in on your little geeks.

Because trust breeds honesty. And honesty breeds love.

And without love, honesty and trust, your super awesome geeky family will be an entity much less spectacular than it absolutely should be.

Those are my two cents. What are yours? This is kind of a newly controversial issue on an old idea, but it definitely bears some thought and discussion. Let’s hear your opinions below and get to the bottom of what’s right and wrong here!

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About Peter Diseth

Geek-tician and Sci-Fi-nancier, Peter has been honing his research for Geeks Raising Geeks for better than three decades. He makes a living creating web content for individuals and businesses, both local and international. He's also a veteran actor of stage and screen, and doing this makes "making a living" worthwhile. Peter is also the sole creator of NewsAttire.com (a satirical news blog in the vein of The Onion) and a once-contributor to WhatCulture.

Peter lives in New Mexico with the three loves of his life: his wife Kate, his kitty Kitty, and his vast library of well-loved and well-worn genre fiction.

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Comments

  1. It sounds like a useful tool – assuming you don’t abuse the power – kids can’t grow up to be responsible adults if you’re constantly keeping tabs on where they are. Like the article says, something like this can breed distrust in a family, and its not something that should be actively promoted…
    However, in the event of someone going missing, this makes sense – of if your phone is missing as well….
    But… Can you check the location of the phone from another device, without being the account owner? I would think it would be tied to someone’s Google account, so as a parent, you would have to have the passwords, instead of your kid or teen – which again spreads the ‘I don’t trust you’ vibe…
    And, in today’s world, kids can be a lot more tech savvy, and know how to find loop holes to this, for sure.

  2. When I was 17-18 years old, my dad installed some (secret) software on my computer, that I bought w/ my own money. It was key logger software, that allowed him to see every. single. thing that I typed on my computer, in emails or chat sessions with friends both near and far.
    The betrayal of trust that came about after I found out that he’d done this (from him confronting me about private conversations I’d had with a boyfriend at the time) laid the groundwork of the eventual destruction of my relationship w/ my parents. 12 years later I still resent the invasion of my privacy, and when my son was born I vowed to not be that kind of parent.
    So far he’s only 3, so he has no concept of privacy, but once he starts desiring it we’ll work out together a comfortable combination of “keeping him safe” and “giving him privacy/space.”
    Spying on your kids is a bad idea. I had a hood relationship w/ my parents until they started doing that, but once they did I realized that they didn’t trust me so why should I maintain any level of transparency? Their prying and spying CAUSED me to become secretive.

    • Perry Rosenbloom says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Vee. At least you’ll be able to take this experience and be an even better parent from it!

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