Ethical Dilemma for Parents – or not?

Mobile tracking has become a common thing not so long ago – a decade at best; however, it took a very prominent start and the industry is proliferating.


Surely, with all the options and possibilities all these applications bring, there is no surprise, they have become so popular. Competition causes the companies implement new and more exclusive features on a regular basis and customers get all the more tempting toys.

However, there is a silver lining here as well. There can be no easy talk about any kind of monitoring without actually raising the issue of morale and ethics, let alone legality of such actions. Despite the fact that most cell phone monitoring applications are sold legally on the U.S. market, it does not stop the debate around ethics of the entire business. This especially concerns justification of such means with regards to kids – as ¾ of such mobile tracking software is bought by concerned parents.

No surprise that the temptation is to much to bear for many – such technology has been unheard of until recently and now there is a chance for every parent not only to know each and every move of their children but learn who they hang out with and text about after 10p.m.

A great number of parents see such option of additional control as a sign of good parenting; however, is it?

The idea of cell phone monitoring has got both proponents and opponents – both have their own arguments on the account.


A fair share of psychologists say that under the idea of proper protection is the desire of total control; and the purpose of parents is not to control but to guide. Upbringing, after all, is not about not allowing kids making their own mistakes, but rather, teaching to take the right steps as well as how to deal with the consequences. Parenting is much more about care without over-involvement than about total care and control.

There is also another issue here and it concerns distrust. Any app that a parent installs on their kids phone without notice is a notice in itself; and it clearly says: “I don’t trust you at all”. The kid’s reaction is likely to be obvious – neither do I.

This is the reason why most of psychologies advocate for open communication instead – about all the issues of life, and smartphone usage including. Otherwise we get a pretty adversarial relationship, which can end up sadly.


Proponents do not agree. They say that we live in a world with too many dangers and that parents have every right to be aware of their kids’ activities both online and offline. Mobile spy apps do more than good – they can help in prevention of bullying and any other harmful actions towards kids; dangers that the latter are frequently unaware of. Thus, this is parents responsibility to keep them safe from such threats – by any means.

Surely, it is a very individual choice of every family. The question of ethics and morale should be looked upon from the angle of each individual situation. There is a great number of applications that allow parents not to be too intrusive and at the same time to keep an eye on their children. Such apps should not necessarily be used discretely; but rather, the usage policy can be discussed and a mutual compromise can be found – the one that would suit both, a kid and a parent.


Again, we get back to the importance of open communication in the family. Upon cell phone purchase a contract can be drawn – the one that will clearly state both parties liberties, responsibilities and boundaries – the contract the terms of which will be followed by both. Perhaps, in this respect the issue of a mobile tracker installed on the phone won’t raise distrust and hostility but rather understanding of the fact that parents just care.