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Will there come a time when its acceptable for parents to Microchip their kids?

GPS has historically proved useful in finding survivors of natural disasters, we think nothing of microchipping our pets should they go missing and everyone has become accustomed to 'find my iphone'. Should your child get lost (or god forbid abducted) wouldn't you want to track them down in minutes? Even if it created a safety net much like insurance products we take out on every other aspect of our lives. is it morally unacceptable to treat our kids in this way

Elliot Harris expert
Elliot Harris
Creative director
London, GB

4 experts and 10 parents have answered

Matt Thrower writer
Matt Thrower Parent. Gamer. Coder. Writer. Bath, Bath and North East Somerset, UK

I worry. You worry. Every parent worries. It's a state of being, and it never stops. It'd be lovely to end one of those worries once and for all, but this price is too high.

When I was growing up there were times I needed to get away, be by myself, go places where I didn't think anyone could find me. Thinking back, the idea that a parent could track me down at will would have been utterly horrifying to me: and my parents were as loving and caring as you could want.

Outside of my personal experience, think of the potential for abuse at the hands of parents who are less loving and caring. Think of the essential life lessons that'll never be learned in independence and judging risk. Think of the other moral issues that this raises about who has access to the data and how it should be turned off.

And at the bottom line we should be reminding ourselves, every day, that in spite of the unimaginable horror of losing a child, in spite of all the headlines and chiding column inches devoted to the subject, it's actually very, very rare. All the evidence suggests that children are in more danger from extended family members and friends than they are from random strangers or exploration. So rare, in fact, that even small losses of independence are unacceptable in my opinion.

Get beyond the headline. Get the facts. Let children learn their independence for themselves.

7 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Anthony Flower
Anthony Flower Father of three & web developer Christchurch, GB

I asked a question on here a while back about Geo Tagging children and didn't get much of a response. I kind of get the impression I'm in the minority but I don't see an issue with it to keep them safe. However unlikely something is, it's good to safeguard from it.

When I was a kid, my parents lost my brother and I on this huge hill, we came down the wrong side and started walking down the motorway in the wrong direction. Luckily my father had a mobile phone (this was the 80's so it was rare) and all our neighbours drove over to help search. they spent hours searching and my poor mum fell and broke her arm during it. Eventually the police picked us up and reunited us with the search party.

If we had GPS wristbands / watches or were even microchipped (and it was now and not the 80's) this day of terror for my parents would not of happened. Kids need space sometimes, but parents also have needs and this kind of tech would help to satisfy one of our very base needs, to keep our kids safe.

5 Reply ( 3 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Simon Munk writer
Simon Munk Consumer tech journalist, mountain biker, dad of two. Walthamstow

I'm with Matt. Younger kids should be able to experience being lost a bit without us sweeping in in seconds, they should be able to take risks, they should be able to explore free of our apron strings. For older kids too, this technology is invasive - the idea teens wouldn't be able to lie to their parents about where they are would be very likely to drive a serious wedge between us and them.

That said, I can imagine that something like this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22038012 (a bracelet designed for aid workers in emergency situations) might become the new thing to give kids (or an app in a phone as an alternative). Children could turn it on to alert us they need us to swoop in to the rescue - allowing parents greater confidence to let kids wander, hide, play in wild spaces and stay out late etc.

5 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
HerMelness Speaks expert
HerMelness Speaks Parent blogger/student mentor GB
Parenting expert expert

Tagging our children in any way is synonymous with parenting in fear. Children cannot grow when parented in fear...and they too will grow up to lead a fearful life.

There be monsters everywhere. Our job as parents is to teach our children to recognise them wherever possible and then how to deal with them.

Technology is also such that if a tag can be invented by man, man is capable of bypassing or removing that tag.

It is a false comfort.

3 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Anita Naik writer
Anita Naik Writer and mum of two London, UK

I'm with Simon and Matt. Like all parents I worry all the time plus torture myself by reading the fear inducing articles in the Daily Mail about child abductions etc. It's terrifying BUT I think micro chipping kids or tracking them through GPS is a step too far. Aside from older kids needing privacy and space (I hated when my parents wanted to know where I was all the time), children need to have a bit of risk in their lives, so they can learn to manage it and make judgments that keep them safe.

I couldn't agree more with this from the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-grossloh/have-american-parents-got-it-all-backwardsb320232...

Ellen Hansen Sandseter, a Norwegian researcher at Queen Maud University in Norway, has found in her research that the relaxed approach to risk-taking and safety actually keeps our children safer by honing their judgment about what they're capable of. Children are drawn to the things we parents fear: high places, water, wandering far away, dangerous sharp tools. Our instinct is to keep them safe by childproofing their lives. But "the most important safety protection you can give a child," Sandseter explained when we talked, "is to let them take... risks."

3 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Holly Seddon admin
Holly Seddon Editor-in-chief of Quib.ly Kent, UK

I'm a worrier and I do see some of the bad in this (I worry about it being misused) but all said and done, I would probably do it. Maybe.

I hold my hands up, I'm a helicopter parent. I worry like hell about my kids ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT so the ability for me to know where they were at all times, the reassurance that I could track them down... I can't help but get on board. I'd just need to get my head around how to make sure no-one else could track them down (like I said, I'm a worrier) and all those fringe cases of domestic abuse and needing to get away and for children to be untraceable by an ex-partner.

2 Reply ( 2 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Richard Taylor expert
Richard Taylor Father of 4 boys & IT Consultant Bushmills, GB
Technology expert

Personally, I would love to have some sort of locator gps tag, and ideally some sort of unique identifier device that is linked to who I am (my passport) and my bank account, and be able to pay for things by swiping my hand across it. Take that a step further and have your phone built in too, with some sort of natural chemical battery powered by my body (I don't want to have to plug myself in!)

I suspect that it will become more and more acceptable as time goes on, from talking to other parents of children at secondary school like my son, they have bought their child an iPhone solely for the "locate my iPhone" functionality as it gives them peace of mind in the wake of the Madeleine McCann kidnapping that at least they have a hope of finding their child should anything happen.

The devices will just get smaller and smaller, soon it will be find my iPod and then find my iWatch, and if rumours are to believed, find my IGlasses.

I don't see any issue with this at all, as long as you, the person being located gets to control who sees where you are, and not governments and large organisations for marketing purposes.

2 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Fiona Harvey expert
Fiona Harvey Education Development Manager Southampton, GB
Education expert

My immediate reaction is that its not OK and raises a huge range of ethical concerns. I have two children and would never have considered inserting a device to track them. Microchipping has been common practice for animals, its not something we should ever consider for human beings. What happens if you microchip a child, and the the data falls into the wrong hands? What happens when we think that we know where our child is and we let down our guard because we rely on the tech to track - these things fail. Other issues are privacy, responsiblity (why would be permanently want to track our children - what does that say about how we have brought them up in the first place? This is a nice article talking about the Ethics of microchipping http://blog.nus.edu.sg/compethics107/2012/09/22/is-it-ethical-to-track-your-child-using-gps/

2 Reply Share:
Fact 3 years ago
Terry Doherty
Terry Doherty

Can anyone tell me how a microchip relieves worrying? Just because you know where they are doesn't mean that you don't worry that someone doesn't call them a name on the playground, or a friend hurt their feelings at school, or they eat too much cake at a party.

Our children are not pets or robots. This is only encouraging more helicopter parenting, which in the end neither helps the child or ourselves ... What are we teaching our kids about privacy and respect?

2 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Andy Battle
Andy Battle infoSec geek, proud father of 4 Perth, Western Australia

We have lost our children in one way or another over the years, and with 4 it is very hard (when alone) to keep an eye on them at all times. Most times are silly and they are never far away, but the action you take from that point forward can effect the experience for them and you as a parent.

being lost for a long time and not knowing is a killer.

If I loose touch with my wife at the shops, an event or fayre, I pick up the phone and call or use 'find my friend' and don't thing anything of it.

I am highly likely to equip my children with smartphones for the exact same reason, so would welcome a GPS wristband.

I think identity chips and implants will not be the answer and I do think that once kids are of responsible age that they need their space, so I would expect a parent to not abuse this technology, but in an emergency I would want to know.

2 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Stacie Davis expert
Stacie Davis Librarian Port Allen, US
Education expert

I don't think that microchipping will happen any time soon. It is one thing to use a device that isn't implanted like: http://www.pocketfinder.com/gps-locator/personal-gps-locator/ but it is quite another to physically insert a microchip into a human being. At what point is it removed? When they are a teenager? When they hit 18? Do you tell them they are microchipped? Do you keep it a secret? Who would be in charge of inserting these chips and who would be allowed to know about it. Could it be done without the agreement of BOTH parents? There are too many moral and legal dilemmas surrounding this for it to happen any time soon. There are OTHER less controversial options that can keep your child safe. :)

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
sarah ryman
sarah ryman Blogging 4 perfect family moment Brighton, GB

Of course I would. We chip our pets and our phones to stop them getting stolen. Our kids are the most precious thing in the world to us. Why the hell not. It would certainly make people that want to steal children think twice.

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Kristin Bennett McNeely
Kristin Bennett McNeely Techie Designer Mom Seattle, Washington

I'd rather give them a bracelet with geo-tracking... and/or one that would sound an alarm if they go to far away from me (for parks/fairs etc.).

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Derek Ryan
Derek Ryan Me, Pentester and Programmer

Umm, I don't know if you guys already realize this or not, but this is already a thing and has been for the past 4 years. Its called a phone. Almost all phones have GPS now, you can pull up, for example, icloud.com and track the loctation of that phone from anywhere with internet access. You can even lock, or change the password to the phone remotely from icloud.com. All Apple products have this, and most Android have this to some extent as well. Like the author said "we have all come accustom to 'find my iphone'", but this basically is "microchipping". So the answer to the question is, Yes it's and already passed.

0 Reply Share:
Fact 3 months ago

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