The non-adoption of location-tracking in the family

"A Case Study of Non-Adoption: The Values of Location Tracking in the Family" by Vasalou, Oostveen and Joinson is a paper that is going to be presented in a week or so at the CSCW 2012 conference. It deals with the use of location-tracking by parents to monitor where their children are when outdoors. Based on a large- scale survey of 920 parents from the UK, the researchers show that this technology concurrently supports and threatens parental values.

A quick summary of the results:

"Families do not use location tracking: Only 1.7% parents reported using this technology with their children (implementation stage). (...) A significant number of parents, over one third of our participants, were not aware these technologies existed (...) Values are the motivating force in the adoption of location tracking: Our findings inform the technology adoption literature by showing that contrary to previous work, demographics (e.g. age and gender) did not predict adoption. (...) A small group of parents, 16%, were favorable toward location tracking (persuasion stage). Location tracking was seen as a tool to reduce uncertainty by providing constant information about children’s movements (uncertainty reduction category). More generally, parents’ accounts show that location tracking technologies are understood to be ‘preventive innovations’ that have the ability to reduce the risks facing children. Despite their positive attitudes, however, it is noteworthy that parents had not adopted these systems. (...) Parents do not need location tracking: The control provided via location tracking was considered to be a threat to self-direction and trust (trust and self direction category). Parents wanted to preserve their children’s ability to freely explore their environment without being judged"

And, interestingly, this last bit about declarative location ("checkin-in" in the Foursquare parlance) caught my attention:

"Systems that feature spontaneous location disclosure (e.g. checking-in) might be more reflective of this web of values and behaviors. By weakening the power relationship previously established through one-directional control, spontaneous location reports can give choice to children and nurture a sense of responsibility as well as honesty without stifling their freedom and autonomy"

Why do I blog this? Following the appropriation of location-based services, I am often surprised by the discourse that surrounds the use of such platforms. Articles such as this one, backed by data, are relevant in the sense that it shows the current usage and perspective in a specific context.