Securing the Kids: Geofencing and Child Wearables – Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies – article

Securing the Kids: Geofencing and Child Wearables

James N Gilmore | Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

2019-10-22

This article provides a critical analysis of the child wearable Jiobit, a locational tracking device that is designed to allow parents to monitor how children move through space. Emphasizing the device’s incorporation of geofencing features, which allow users to program ‘fences’ on a paired smartphone application and receive notifications when a Jiobit wearer enters and leaves the ‘fenced’ areas, I demonstrate how the operations of this device are part of a cultural politics that values the tracking of children through a variety of technological and infrastructural processes. Through an artifactual analysis of the device itself and its smartphone application, as well as an examination of the company’s promotional language, I demonstrate how the logic of ‘securitization’ is used to encourage parents to delegate some of the work of monitoring children to this device. This artifactual analysis is paired with a discursive analysis of the company’s policy documents, which readily acknowledge Jiobit’s inability to serve as a fully reliable security system, while also detailing the ways in which the extraction of data is stored indefinitely and, in some cases, disclosed to third parties. Through this case study of Jiobit, I argue for critical studies of wearable technologies to attend to the ways in which their producers promise ‘security’ and the ways in which ‘security’ acts as an alibi for continuous data collection.

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