When it comes to the safety of her children, Roseline Guevremont takes few chances.
“It’s a question of knowing where your kid is and what they do,” she told Global News from her living room, as her kids prepared to leave for school.
So when her oldest daughter started high school four years ago Guevremont started using an iPhone to track her.
“It’s an app that’s called Find my Friends on the iPhone,” she explained.
The app allows users to locate friends who are also running the app on their mobile device. Each person has to agree to share their location, either for a fixed time or indefinitely.
It gives her peace of mind knowing that she can find her child if she needs to, at the touch of a screen.
“So if something happens to her on her way to school, I know where she is,” she said.
But the disappearance of 10-year-old Ariel Kouakou in Cartierville two weeks ago has added a bit of urgency to those concerns.
GPS monitoring of kids by parents is nothing new. It can be done via mobile apps or wearable devices. But since Kouakou went missing, there has been renewed interest. That’s because some people, including the boy’s family, believe he was abducted.
“This has created a sense of panic and anxiety in the province,” said Pina Arcamone, Director General for the Missing Children’s Network.
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Using GPS technology to track kids is controversial because some think it’s too invasive.
Internet security expert Terry Cutlet says, “younger kids are probably not going to care that they’re being tracked, but as they become teens they’re gonna say, ‘well they’re invading my privacy.'”
But for Guevrmont, being able to track her daughter is just an extension of a regular house rule.
“My daughter always had to tell me where she was anyways,” she said.
But she stresses that communication and honesty are key. Her daughter, whose identity she wants to keep private, agreed.
“Well at first I wasn’t used to it and I thought it was weird. But then we talked about it so I know that it’s for safety purposes and it’s safer.”
But Arcamone has a warning for parents. Though the devices can be useful for those who choose it, it shouldn’t replace what’s most important.
“I will always insist on the importance of educating children to avoid finding themselves in situations that might compromise their lives,” she said.
“Empowering them to recognize dangerous situations and getting themselves out of it is critical.”
The challenge, she says, is finding the balance between preparing children without scaring them, because there’s one thing both parents and kids need to remember about abductions.
“They remain a rare phenomenon in our province, in our country!”