Should you use a phone app to track your teen?

The Dilemma

Back in the eighth grade, Quinn had to have a smartphone, so she was all too happy to accept her parents’ offer: They would buy her a phone provided she kept the TeenSafe app installed. That app would allow them to review Quinn’s texts and call logs, and check her location whenever they wanted.

At the time, that seemed like a good bargain. Two years later, she’s not so sure. Quinn doesn’t care all that much about her texts and call logs — she never says anything too objectionable — but she hates that her parents know where she is all the time.

On the day of a crew service project, Quinn decides to rebel. When the project ends earlier than expected, she hides her phone at the work site and catches a ride with Avery to the mall. Returning a couple of hours later, her phone is still at the site — and so is her mom. Quinn’s mom had been trying to call and finally decided to drive to the worksite to see what was going on. She grounds Quinn and takes away her phone for two months.

For Discussion

Read the dilemma aloud with your youth and then discuss these questions:

  • Are teen-tracking apps ethical? Why or why not?
  • Was it ethical for Quinn to fool her parents by not carrying her phone? Why or why not?
  • Does Quinn’s destination (the mall) affect your answer to the previous questions? What if she’d gone to the library instead? What if she’d gone somewhere she knew was off limits?
  • Does it matter that Quinn left from a service project instead of from, say, a high school soccer game? Why or why not?
  • Would it matter if Quinn and Avery had left the service project before it ended?
  • Quinn technically did what she promised: She kept the app installed. Can she get off the hook on a technicality? Should she?
  • Quinn accepted her parents’ bargain two years ago. Does that mean she has no reason to complain now? Why or why not?

Finally, discuss ways Quinn could resolve this situation, perhaps by renegotiating the deal she made with her parents.

1 Comment

  1. I think Quinn and her parents need to find a mutually respectful way to stay in contact with each other! She should have had an open discussion with her parents. In the end they are the owners of the phone and service but they should work with her to make an agreement all can live with!

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