I’ve always felt that stalking my children is my God-given right. They are my responsibility until they turn 18 and until then, I plan to know where they are at all times, whom they are with and what they are doing. It’s part and parcel of being my child.
I’m a careful, micromanaging, paranoid, protective mum and I’m perfectly happy with that. My oldest, Philip, 12, is not so happy.
After one too many lost devices I’d been thinking of downloading an app with which I could located them, thus saving myself hundreds of dollars in replacements and as I pondered the different options, Pokémon GO launched.
Pokémon GO, the bane of parents’ existence. The words that fill us with dread.
Jo talks about why she needs an app to tell her where her kids are:
That’s exactly what parents need – a game their children are desperate to play that requires them to wander down random streets and to various locations hunting characters and Poke-balls and finding Poke-stations and Poke-gyms.
I fought it at first, then I let them download it onto their phone and play in our front and back yard only. Then Philip started to want to take it further, so I took him for a few walks before I got a bit sick and tired of tagging along. Then a mum friend of mine and I organised for our boys to do it together, locally, and she sent me a link to an app that has changed my parenting experience for the better.
Family Map. Or as my son now calls it, Stalker App.
What is Pokémon GO? Post continues after this video…
Family Map allows you to track your family member’s whereabouts at all times, so long as they have downloaded the app on their device and you have linked them to your home account, which I have. So far just myself, my husband and Philip are on it and as a result, my son is enjoying more freedom than he ever has before.
He can now play Pokémon GO locally, walk down the road to his cousin’s house and I even let him walk to the local shops with his friends.
The first few times he went off on his own I confess, I sat down with a cup of tea and watched his location on the app. It comforted me to know where he was.
The app has had other advantages too. He and his brother and sister catch the school bus home and it always arrives at different times. By checking the app I know when to stand at the bus stop and how far away he is.
Another bonus has been that my husband and I can see where each of us are at all times. I saw he was at the local shops and asked him to buy milk. He saw I was almost home and the kids ran out and gave me a hug before I'd even knocked on the door.
I asked my son why he doesn't like it and he cites the one time he walked way too far while Pokemon hunting and ended up at a major shopping centre without letting me know where he was going. But that was once. The rest of the time I can easily see where he is and no longer have to bombard him with phone calls and text messages.
Although that doesn't stop him from bombarding me. He has developed an annoying habit of ringing and ringing and ringing until I answer, instead of leaving a message and waiting for me to call back. And instead of thinking of an entire text message to send he sends it in bits, sending six messages in total.
Ding, ding, ding!
The app sends an alert when someone arrives home or leaves and once Philip texted me from a friend's house to ask where I was going because he'd received an alert saying I'd left. I told him I was shopping and he asked for microwave popcorn. So I don't think he hates it as much as he says.
We can share photos with each other and messages, as a group, so we all know what's going on, when, where, who, how and why. Then next year my younger son and my daughter will join the app because my children will be a three different schools and I'll feel better being able to see their locations. I like knowing they are safe and sound and where they are meant to be. Philip wants to walk to high school and back and he can, now that I've found this app.
The world is always a scary place for parents and I don't see anything wrong with doing something that comforts me and makes me feel like my kids are safer. They may resent it from time-to-time but for the most part it works. Children aren't always going to agree with the things parents do to keep them safe but that's just tough.
Listen to the latest episode of This Glorious Mess here, where Holly and Andrew also talk kids and manicures and whether or not dad bods are attractive...
Philip said that when he turns 18 he's getting off it so I have another six years of stalking I'm allowed to do, unless he is still at home at 18 and if I am still paying his phone bill, he has to stay on it.
My house, my rules.
I'm secretly hoping he forgets to delete the app and keeps it on forever, until he has a family of his own of course because that would just be weird for us all to be on the app together. That's unless they are okay with it, in which case we CAN stay on it forever.
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