GPS watches for in-demand children after the death of 9-year-old Gino

Since the disappearance and death of Gino van der Straeten from Limburg, many people have reported on social media that they have purchased a GPS watch for their child. A tour of various webshops shows that there has been an increase in sales since last Saturday, the day Gino’s body was found. The need for information about such a device is great, as it has also shown since June 1 from search data from Google.

Dominique Tempelaars from Rhoon, near Rotterdam, got the idea to buy a watch when she saw Gino’s disappear in the news. She ordered the device for her 8-year-old daughter.

“I told her about Gino. She thought it was very bad and it made her a little scared. She likes that she gets a watch. Then she can quickly ask if she can go in with a friend. I think she’s too young for a cell phone, but she can call me with this. It’s a good idea I can reach her. “

False security

In principle, there is nothing wrong with buying such a watch to see where your child hangs out, says parenting expert Krista Okma. “But of course it’s not something that can guarantee safety. It’s especially important that you tell your children not to go with strangers. And that they should go away if something does not feel right.”

Remco Pijpers, digital skills advisor at the Kennisnet Foundation, also understands the reflex of buying a GPS watch. “What happened to Gino is every parent’s worst fear. It makes sense that you start thinking of ways you can prevent your child from going through the same thing.”

He points out that kidnappings of strangers – as has presumably happened to Gino and Nicky Verstappen before – are exceptions. “Perpetrators of abuse cases are usually acquaintances: a family member, a family friend, the football coach … You know your child’s location and you think he’s in good hands there. But a GPS watch will not tell you that abuse takes place there. “

Parents need to consider: is it really nice to give such a watch to your child? “Most children are fine without. It is possible that such a watch does not necessarily reassure you. Maybe you want to check where your child is all the time and just worry more,” says Pijpers.

The relationship between parent and child

He believes that parents should also consider other aspects of using these types of gadgets. Who else can e.g. see device location or other data?

“And what does that do to the parent-child relationship? For younger children, it may be less important. But as a parent, you also need to give your child space and confidence to be unseen. Children can also get the feeling that their parents are being spied on. “

“The question is, what kind of educator do you want to be,” Pijpers says. “And how technology can help with that. Such a watch affects the trust relationship between parent and child. It can be positive and negative. It’s important that you think about it. Every family and every situation is different.”

Especially practical

The risk of the same thing happening to your child as Gino is very small, says John van den Oever. He is the director of One2track, a company that sells GPS watches to children. “We often see parents buying such a device because of this risk. What happened to Gino is, of course, terrible. Fortunately, that danger is negligible.”

According to Van den Oever of One2track, parents primarily see the practical side of such a gadget. “You can reach your child with it, but they can also call grandma, for example. Children also like to get their first, own kind of cell phone.”

‘Not a holy grail’

In the end, it is important that you make good agreements with your child, says Pijpers from Kennisnet. For example, that the child actually notifies you when it enters someone’s house. “But above all, they need to know how to cope if something happens to them. One hopes that they then feel that something is wrong and pack their suitcases.”

“I can not imagine anyone intending to do harm leaving that watch,” says educator Okma. “You can also lose a watch or have no range. It’s not a holy grail.”

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