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A new type of "freedom," or, tracking children with AirTags, with Heather Kelly: Lock and Code S04E1

Posted: August 14, 2023 by Malwarebytes Labs

"Freedom" is a big word, and for many parents today, it's a word that includes location tracking. Across America, parents are snapping up Apple AirTags, the inexpensive location tracking devices that can help owners find lost luggage, misplaced keys, and—increasingly so—roving toddlers setting out on mini-adventures. The parental fear right now, according to The Washington Post technology reporter Heather Kelly, is that "anybody who can walk, therefore can walk away." Parents wanting to know what their children are up to is nothing new. Before the advent of the Internet—and before the creation of search history—parents read through diaries. Before GPS location tracking, parents called the houses that their children were allegedly staying at. And before nearly every child had a smart phone that they could receive calls on, parents relied on a much simpler set of tools for coordination: Going to the mall, giving them a watch, and saying "Be at the food court at noon." But, as so much parental monitoring has moved to the digital sphere, there's a new problem: Children become physically mobile far faster than they become responsible enough to own a mobile. Enter the AirTag: a small, convenient device for parents to affix to toddlers' wrists, place into their backpacks, even sew into their clothes, as Kelly reported in her piece for The Washington Post. In speaking with parents, families, and childcare experts, Kelly also uncovered an interesting dynamic. Parents, she reported, have started relying on Apple AirTags as a means to provide freedom, not restrictions, to their children. Today, on the Lock and Code podcast with host David Ruiz, we speak with Kelly about why parents are using AirTags, how childcare experts are reacting to the recent trend, and whether the devices can actually provide a balm to increasingly stressed parents who may need a moment to sit back and relax. Or, as Kelly said: "In the end, parents need to chill—and if this lets them chill, and if it doesn't impact the kids too much, and it lets them go do silly things like jumping in some puddles with their friends or light, really inconsequential shoplifting, good for them."

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