Introduction\n\nParenting is hard. No matter what anyone tells you or Instagram influencer post shows, parenting is a tough role to take on. Whilst showing your children all the love and care in the world 😀, there are late nights to deal with, being woken up by screaming early in the morning, changing dirty nappies, having to ensure your children are safe, fed, ready for school, doing their homework, not being adversely affected by bullying and let's not get started on social media and the internet lol 😂! Parents do amazing things, and seek help where they can to assist with all the tasks they have to carry out. As kids get older, one such tool could be strapping your child's wrist with a watch that tracks their every move and allows you to communicate with them remotely.\n\nThe fear is of losing your child is all too real, and I know I vanished in a few superstores growing up only to resurface clutching the latest Spider-Man toy. I still hear tannoy announcements of "would so and so please go to the checkouts" to collect their child, no doubt they rush over there like lunatics in an absolute panic! If they only knew the location, they wouldn't have to feel such extreme feelings of fear, loss, sadness and (fingers-crossed 🤞) relief. It is with this in mind that I understand the allure of tracking children with these fancy smart watches ⌚, as you could just bring up a map and walk over to their exact location. However, there are some very real concerns that need to be discussed.\n\nBeing able to always pinpoint your loved ones on a map has certain drawbacks\n\nThe Watchful Eyes Big Brother 👀\n\nI'm really not a fan of tracker watches for children, and one such reason is because I believe that a strong relationship is built upon trust. How would would you like for your partner to install an app on your phone so that they knew where you were at all times of the day, broken down into an itemized list, which showed a detailed breakdown on a by minute basis, potentially on a map with a plotted route? There are names for this market, including spouseware and stalkerware. There is a crackdown on these applications going on at the moment as organisations investigate, especially due to the breaches these services have experienced! Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who fight for our online rights are getting involved, showing that these services illicit a lot of strong feelings.\n\nStalkerware Apps Struck Down for the First Time Ever by the FTC\n\n‘Stalkerware’ Website Let Anyone Intercept Texts of Tens of Thousands of People\n\nA Hacker Has Wiped a Spyware Company’s Servers—Again\n\nHacker Steals Customers' Text Messages from Android Spyware Company\n\nHacker Eva Galperin Has a Plan to Eradicate Stalkerware\n\nI actually wrote a post about such software which goes into a little more detail than I will here 🤓.\n\nThe Spy Who (Supposedly) Loved Me\n\nYes you are the parent and you can decide for your child irrespective of consent (if my parents needed my consent for eating peas and olives, I'd have never touched them) and even if a child agreed, do they fully understand the implications? Probably not, and one of the important roles as a parent is to make decisions on behalf of your child about matters they cannot comprehend due to their limited years and experiences.\n\nA Potentially Dangerous Proposition\n\nShould we have different rules for children? The main reason I HATE these watches is that time and again, many of these watches are found lacking in the security department. This ends up actually putting your child in far more danger than if they were just rocking a standard, £14.99 plastic Casio 😎 (get an orange one). It's as if many of these are developed with a complete focus on data extraction and without security even being a thought judging by the severity of the vulnerabilities found. This has included the EXACT REAL-TIME location of your child being leaked to the internet, along with sensitive account details such as name, home address, email, phone number (of account holder) etc. By negating security, these services are effectively putting up a database of child locations on the public web for questionable people to peruse at their leisure. Whilst this (obviously) isn't advertised to every Tom, Richard and Sally surfing for the latest deals and cutest puppy pictures, those who want this information will find it unfortunately.\n\nAnother manufacturer vulnerability was released recently, and whilst a certain named regional supplier stopped distributing them, the manufacturer hadn't fixed the issue at the time of publish, meaning the database was still up and running for those specialists to unfortunately find. If you feel like publishing the vulnerabilities puts innocent children at risk, have a read of the timeline provided. Security researchers normally contact manufacturers months ahead of publication to allow them sufficient time to fix the issues with a fixed cut-off date. If the manufacturer doesn't respond, responds badly, refuses to fix etc, the vulnerability is published to put pressure on a released solution and to warn affected users (the manufacturer won't warn anyone). Remember, the vulnerability EXISTS and will be found irrespective of publication (it's on the internet), and without it, the people who REALLY need to know (the affected users with vulnerable children) are the ones left in the dark ☹️.\n\nProduct Warning! Chinese Children’s Watch Reveals Thousands of Children’s Data\n\nIoT Smartwatch Exposes Kids’ Personal, GPS Data\n\nThe Effectiveness of Publicly Shaming Bad Security\n\nMan in front of a lake in darkness contemplating the ramifications of leaking vital data\n\nThis adds to previous breaches disclosed with children's smart watches, which may suggest (not confirm) a wider problem. Maybe regulation is required, as the nature of these vulnerabilities suggests that security awareness and even testing may not be as high a priority as they should've been considering the data being collected and the age of the people the data was collected from and subsequently leaked. Age shouldn't actually matter, but it's worth considering if you are a parent.\n\nHow to Track Your Kids (and Other People's Kids) With the TicTocTrack Watch\n\nDisturbing Security Flaws in Smartwatches for Children\n\nGPS Watch Issues… AGAIN\n\nEU Recalls Children’s Smartwatch That Leaks Location Data\n\nConnected Wristwatch Allows Hackers to Stalk, Spy On Children\n\nResponses to Tracking\n\nAll of this lead to Germany banning the sale of these watches years ago, and encouraging parents of existing watches to (I'm paraphrasing and exaggerating) curb stomp them into a fine powder. This really says a lot about how they are viewed 😂! Yes, you might get peace of mind knowing where your child is at all times, but can you still sleep at night knowing that someone else out there may know this information too (including the location of your child's bed) due to lax security in a clearly unregulated (even self-regulated) environment? Are you okay feeding your child's real-time location information into a (due to lack security) publicly accessible database with varying degrees of access based on the supplier you've chosen? In the case of one of the breaches highlighted above, a remote attacker with very little effort could call and speak to the child! What if they said something that encouraged children to meet them somewhere?\n\nKids’ Smartwatches Banned in Germany Over Spying Concerns\n\nGermany Bans Smartwatches for Kids and Asks Parents to Destroy Them\n\nTech advances can be awesome, but I think real-time tracking of children skirts an important line. If parents choose to go down this route, the companies they entrust their children's data to MUST have strong security in order to keep them safe. For me personally, I'll fully admit that I don't like these smart watches from a privacy standpoint, but from a security point of the view the benefit of the doubt for me has been lost. No one (including me) can tell you how to parent your children, so hopefully the information provided here gives you all you need to make informed decisions.\n\nWoman thinking about how to keep her children safe using all the information she has\n\nDoing What We Think is Right\n\nBeing a parent is one of the toughest roles that people perform, as with all the lovely positives, there are lots of important responsibilities that need to be met. Because many children have a habit of running off, some parents decide to track them so they don't get lost, with watches that have a chequered past when it comes to security. The severity of the vulnerabilities that have been disclosed are very alarming, and can put children in very real danger. Parents must decide if these potential dangers are worth it, and if so MUST elect to use services that have built security into their offerings and take the privacy of child data seriously. I personally am not a fan of such invasive solutions and would recommend trust and education where possible.\n\nTake care and all the best. Si.