Trick or Tracker? Word Bully? Oh, what a world we live in.
There was an article on Boston.com the other day on a smartphone app from Iconosys, Trick or Tracker, that alerts parents if their little trick or treaters have decided to cross out of the safety zone they’ve set for them. (While Halloween is the hook they’re hanging this app off of, it can obviously keep the kiddos on track any old time of year.)
God knows, if I had kids, I’d probably have subcutaneous tracking devices embedded in their arms, and a secure monitoring console that I manned 24/7, augmented by satellite tracking, but I still don’t know how I feel about this one.
Sure, it probably lets some parents loosen up on the reigns a bit, without making themselves crazy. But am I the only one that feels that, if you have to have an alert system like this set up, then maybe your kid’s not old or mature enough to be off on his own?
Boy, do I feel bad for these kids who have their parents
spying on monitoring them.
I know, I know, it’s a different world than the veritable Mayberry that I grew up in, when free-range packs of kids roamed the streets as long as there was any light left in the sky. And on Halloween – the one night-night out: how exhilarating, how wonderful, how marvelous.
My first remembered Halloweens were in the company of one or the other of my parents, generally my father, or with a wide age-range troupe of locals presided over by a “big girl.”
Somewhere along the line, you got to go out with just your friends. Liberation!
Obviously, on your own, you could cut a far wider swath than you could when your father was dictating the course.
I still remember how great it felt to head back home with a heavy bag and drop exhausted on a kitchen chair. Of course, then I had to witness the least pleasant part of Halloween: my mother sorting through the bags, taking out the lollipops (bad for your teeth), and anything else she didn’t want us to have (loose, unwrapped candies). She’d then pack away the goodies, out of reach, out of sight, but not out of mind. She’d dole them out, but the supply never seemed to last as long as it should have. I’m sure that at some point she dumped the booty, or sent it off with my sweet-tooth father to work.
Now, with Trick or Tracker, some poor kid will hear that they’re giving out full-sized candy bars somewhere beyond whatever pale that mom and dad have set up for him. He’ll head over, hoping he can sneak this one doorbell in, when the Trick or Tracker app will click in, the parents will be alerted, and all hell will break loose. Try explaining that you didn’t want to be only kid who didn’t get the non-bite-sized box of Junior Mints. Try telling them that you were only going to go to that one house, and it was right on the edge of the no-fly-zone…
I’m surprised the app doesn’t give the kid a shock. Or set off one of those rodent-begone sound shields, tuned only to your kid, so that he’s bombarded with a really loud version of “Horse with No Name” until he gets back on the side walk on the sunny, parent- approved side of the street.
Trick or Tracker. These poor kids today.
Sure, they get to play with all kinds of cool electronic gadgets, but they can’t even get a decent night out on their own for Halloween.
Oh, what a world we live in.
Also from Iconosys is something called Word Bully, a smartphone app that lets parents block out messages containing profanity, vulgarity, physical and emotional threats, and a custom list of words - and get the number of those sending nasty messages.
My first thought was, removing the vulgarities and profanities will take care of an awful lot of normal trash-talking, won’t it.
But parents (at least the more moderate and understanding ones) can put the numbers of friends and siblings on the approved list, so that if your older child texts your younger one with a “you suck”, they will not have to be alerted.
As with Trick or Tracker, I don’t know how I feel about this app, either.
Certainly, any parent would want to protect their child from the bullying that has taken a new and exceedingly rancid turn with the advent of cyber-bullying. And, given that there are so many kids who don’t – for whatever reason - tell their parents that they’re being cyber-tortured and brutalized, I can understand a parent wanting to monitor this. (And also wanting to monitor whether their little angel was a giver, rather than a receiver.)
Still, in terms of helping your child grow up, it would certainly be better if you could handle this some other way. But given the depth and breadth of some of the cyber-bullying I’ve read about, it’s no wonder that some parents would go this route.
A couple of years back, someone my niece Molly knew from day camp sent her a very disturbing text message. It did not appear to be directed to Molly in particular and, as it turned out, it was just a dumb kid passing on an exceedingly threatening and creepy text to everyone whose phone number she had, thinking it was funny.
Molly had the good sense to tell her parents, which is what one would hope would happen when the cyber-threateners and cyber-bullies hit the send button.
I can’t remember the full upshot of the story, but I seem to recall that my brother-in-law ended up letting the girl’s folks know. And I believe that this was the last dumb text message this girl sent along – at least for a good long while.
Word Bully. These poor kids today.
Sure, they get to play with all kinds of cool electronic gadgets, but they don’t even get a single moment in the day when they know they can’t be preyed upon by a cyber-bully.
Oh, what a world we live in.