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Sue Backshall

About Sue Backshall

Sue Backshall is a lifelong fan of Don Adams, upsetting the status quo and books she's read before. She apologises.

An article this morning wondered if it was ok to electronically track your children outside your home. Of course, it is, I’m teaching them the benefits of paranoia.



This morning, I read an ABC piece that wondered if parents who electronically track their children en route to school were either “practical” or “paranoid”. Well, let me tell you, aunty, this mum is both. Each hellish morning, when I shuttle the demon spawn through the underworld of breakfast, showering and missing shoes, I make sure their phones are active. Yes, I track my children through my phone. But why?

Well, there are many reasons. Trust, for one. I trust them as much as I trust strangers en route, which is close to nil. Tracking them is a sword of many points. I can ensure they don’t deviate from the route…and they know that I’m watching. It’s akin to Dracula appearing in the sky above Jonathan Harker’s fateful trip through the Carpathian Mountains. I am the trees, I am the apartment blocks, I am forever present. With that being said, there are critics of the scheme. Hugo (not his real name) questioned my loving surveillance not soon after watching a film that implicated George Clooney in a drone-based political assassination. “That’s you,” he said, pointing at the sweaty professional figure on screen muttering militaristic mumbo-jumbo, I returned “that’s you” pointing at the plume of smoke that Cloons was suddenly misty over.



According to the study within the aforementioned article, the primary reason we parents electronically track our progeny is to feel safer when they’re travelling alone. Which, duh. But, I know what they’re saying. As a parent, we’re lazy, tired gits. We need something to blame. Something that isn’t us. We’re stretched. Anthea Rhodes (who oversaw the study) believes that those who tag should wear a greater label of responsibility, stating that “…we need to remember that, just because we know where a child is … that’s not necessarily giving them the skills they might need to navigate difficulties…if they’re crossing a road and they need to understand how to do that safety or they encounter a difficult situation with a stranger, having the device is not going to help them. They still need the skills.”

Fair. But, they’re not your kids. They’re individuals. No other child possesses an amazing amount of annoying attributes as mine do. However, I do take umbrage with the assertion that by taking this route, I’m ensuring their development may be at risk. I’m merely preparing them for the digitised future, where every piece of technology may be reversed, or subverted or hacked to operate as a surveillance tool. At the moment, we assume that our tech is fine, and works for us. The headlines shatter our warm assumption. At least this way my children are preparted, they know that they’re being watched by default. I’m teaching them ways to stay off the grid.

I mean, they might be a paranoid mess, but at least they’re not smoking, right?






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