Are Parents Risking Their Child's Safety With GPS Tracking Devices?
Nicki Corkill uses an app to check where her kids are at any given moment.
Her two children wear a TicTockTrack watch, which Corkill uses to see where they are if she can't see them in a shopping centre, or when the family's travelling.
Last week, TicTockTrack was discovered to have major security flaws -- but despite this, the Townsville mum says it’s one of the best investments she’s ever made.
A computer security researcher in Britain discovered a vulnerability in the software, which allowed him to track a child, call them, listen to them, and make them appear in another location -- all without the user knowing.
“It hasn’t deterred us from using it at all,” Corkill told 10 daily.
“People have car accidents every day, I’m not going to start walking everywhere."
“I know there are people that think it's an infringement of privacy but I protect my children, that’s why I am here, that’s my job and I have found this invaluable for that.”
One in five parents are now using a tracking device to monitor their children, according to research from The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
But there is little research available into the effects these have on kids.
John Gardiner, a clinical psychologist with over 30 years experience, said a parents’ drive to protect their children has always been there, but now there’s the technology to turn this into action.
“We don’t have the research to see how that impacts on the development or autonomy, or how that impacts groups, like anxious parents. We’re just seeing [tracking devices] come onto the market,” he told 10 daily.
He said the parents’ behaviour starts very early on with baby monitors, and progresses to digital tracking devices.
But he warned a child could fail to develop independence “if it gets out of control”.
With constant access to their parents, Gardiner said, “They don’t self regulate, don’t self soothe."
Security researcher and father-of-two Troy Hunt is adamant children should not be tracked with GPS devices.
He investigated the TicTockTrack watch using his six-year-old daughter as an experiment.
He argued the privacy risks are way too high and there are too many problems with the child’s information being exposed.
"The parent in me doesn't feel the need," Hunt told 10 daily.
“The security researcher in me would absolutely never do it... The security of these sorts of things is consistently atrocious.
“Clearly no money was spent on security.”