‘I keep a close watch on this child of mine’ : a moral critique of other-tracking apps

K. Gabriels

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Smartphones and mobile applications are omnipresent in our lives. At the core of this article are ‘othertracking apps’, i.e. mobile applications that make it possible, via location technology, to track others. These apps ensure that we are never unconnected from the network of ubiquitous information and, via that network, from others. In specific, focus lies on apps designed for parents to remotely track the whereabouts of their child(ren). This particular case can be considered as one example of broader reflection on what continuous technical connectivity means in moral terms. Other-tracking apps give new ground to moral queries related to information technologies. Even though there is little doubt that parents might implement these technologies with good intention to extend care and responsibility over a distance, our concern is that they mistake control for care. This article seeks to demonstrate that a critical stance towards other-tracking by parents is required, because these apps raise a number of concerns that should be recognized as they are implemented. A number of moral critiques are expressed and discussed. These apps have the potential to engender a situation of ‘over-proximity’. A framework is hence required that emphasizes maintaining the critical distance to respect the other’s heterogeneity, autonomy, and privacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-184
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Mobile applications
  • Other-tracking apps
  • Quantified otherness
  • Parent-child relation
  • Moral concerns
  • Care
  • Control


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