For teenagers, getting their driver’s license is one of life’s most exciting moments. For a parent, it’s one of the most distressing. New technologies promise to alleviate parents’ worries by keeping tabs on their teen drivers, but the use of these tools raises an ethical question: Do they cross the line between good parenting and invasion of privacy? MotherProof.com surveyed moms of teens to gauge how much snooping they’re willing to do. MotherProof.com’s survey found that two-thirds of moms don’t use technology to snoop on their teen drivers: 64% of moms said they would not put a camera or GPS tracking device in their child’s vehicle. However, 53% of moms admitted to investigating the contents of their teen’s car, and 36% said they regularly check the miles on their teen’s car to see how much they’re driving. While most moms are very trusting, the survey indicates that younger moms are more likely to second-guess their teen’s driving habits. Some interesting results among this group include:

  • 59% of moms ages 25-34 either would consider putting a camera or GPS system in their teen’s car or have already done so, versus 43% of moms ages 35-44 and 27% of moms ages 45-54.
  • 57% of moms 25-34 have followed their child in traffic to see where they’re going and investigate their driving habits, versus 29% of moms 35-44 and 18% of moms 45-54.
  • 70% of moms 25-34 have investigated the contents of their teen’s car,versus 52% of moms 35-44 and 50% of moms 45-54.
  • 65% of moms 25-34 regularly check the miles on their teen’s car to see how much they’re driving, versus 39% of moms 35-44 and 27% of moms 45-54.

“I was initially very surprised to see that young moms were the snoopers while Boomer moms were more lax,” says Kristin Varela, chief mom at MotherProof.com. “However, young moms’ teenage days weren’t too long ago, and maybe they remember some of their own risky driving more clearly. Additionally, younger moms probably have a greater comfort level with technology due to the increasing popularity of GPS systems and other tracking technology available.” Adds Varela, “Putting a device in your child’s vehicle might seem like a great way to keep a close eye on them when you can’t be in the car. However, even though teens tend to drive riskier, this does indicate a level of mistrust. There are other methods, like teen-driving contracts, that might be a better first step.” Research was conducted in November 2008 by Impulse Research on behalf of MotherProof.com. The overall sampling error rate for this survey is plus or minus 3 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

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