Track or Treat! This Halloween, Treat Your Kid Like a Felon!


Halloween szrdehshit
is the ultimate Free-Range holiday
— the one day of the year kids are  encouraged to go out in the world, on their own, and make things happen. They:

*Dress up like adults (or at least not like the kids they are)

*Take to the streets

*Interact with strangers. Repeatedly!

*Work and get paid (okay, it’s not “real” work, but they run around ringing doorbells and get paid in candy.)

In other words, this is a totally subversive day, proving to kids that however much they are supervised the rest of the year, they obviously don’t need it.  They can go out with their friends, roam the neighborhood and have a great time.

So, naturally, this rebellion must be squashed.  Enter “Glympse,” and “AirLive,”  two child tracking devices that are pitching parents on the necessity of electronically monitoring their kids’ spoooooooky journey to…the neighbor’s homes. 

AireLive’s press release promises that its livestreaming capacity will allow “kids to communicate with their parents in real time should any questions arise. Parents can view the livestream and assess the situation should a teen ever be in need of assistance.”

Nooooooo! The whole idea is that if “questions” arise, kids should solve them on their own. In my lectures, when I ask audience members to think of a time they felt on top of the WORLD as a kid, many of them remember a “problem” — like getting lost — and solving it themselves. That’s the foundation of confidence! Why replace it with a livestream to mom?

Meantime, the app called Glympse is promising the same confidence-deflating software. This story on Yahoo Finance quotes Monica Depiesse, creative director of Glympse, saying: “By applying our industry leading technology to this fun, user-friendly app, we’re providing parents the peace of mind to enjoy the holiday, while allowing them the opportunity to give their kids a sense of independence.”

Please note: A “sense” of independence is NOT independence, any more than a criminal who has to wear an ankle bracelet is truly free.

No matter how cutely this is written, the ability to “View that goblin’s every movement” is the antithesis of this holiday. “The real-time app lets users see where their children are, how fast they’re moving and if they are starting to wander too far. Parents can track from any mobile device or desktop, so no additional devices are needed.”

My God. Parents, ask yourselves: Is this how YOU spent Halloween? Did you want your parents to track your “every movement”? Did you  feel endangered when you went out by yourselves? Or empowered?

We give kids ONE day of grown-up freedom. Now we are taking even that away. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

Which we also do. But that’s another rant. — L.


Do you get the creepy feeling we're being...followed?

Do you get the creepy feeling we’re being…followed?



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39 Responses to Track or Treat! This Halloween, Treat Your Kid Like a Felon!

  1. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    “Please note: A “sense” of independence is NOT independence, any more than a criminal who has to wear an ankle bracelet is truly free.”

    I think your comparison is off here. Yes, it’s better to be free than to have an ankle monitoring bracelet on. But those aren’t the convict’s choices… “free” is off the table. It’s “ankle-monitoring bracelet on at home” or “jail”.

    Similarly, the hover-parent’s options are “monitor children by being present” and “monitor children by telepresence”… they were never going to let their children roam freely.

    There were parents who wouldn’t let their children engage in Halloween back when I was a kid, too… either because they had religious objections to the whole pageant, or because they felt that allowing their children to go extort the neighbors had a mixed message for the other days of the year. And there were “strict” parents who set firm limits on their children’s freedom, and parents who allowed more.

  2. ChicagoDad October 22, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    Or neighborhood has an awesome Halloween experience. We get two to three hundred trick-or-treaters every year! And they have been so well mannered the last few years. Parents put on costumes, and some of our neighbors even do “haunted yard” skits to entertain the kids. People are outside, having fun…and except for the added car traffic, it might be the safest night of the year to be outside after dark because there are people everywhere! I love it! I hope we have good weather. What a shame it would be to ruin this holiday for kids.

  3. lollipoplover October 22, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    If stalking your kids on their cellphones keeps the slow-creep cars following trick-or-treaters off the roads, I’m all for virtual stalking on Halloween. The added traffic on Halloween is my biggest pet peeve- parents driving their kids house to house or in between…because walking is hard.

    I keep seeing links on social media for the Patch articles that sharing local sex offender maps for Halloween. I guess they want neighbors to stock up on egging their houses to mark them on mischief night. It’s amazing how dangerous we are making this night for children. Even Halloween parties get cancelled because they can offend.

  4. John October 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    Golly ChicagoDad, are you talking about the modern era? Two to three hundred tick-or-treaters? It sounds like the good’ole fashion Halloween I used to experience as an 8-year-old kid up in Wisconsin back in 1964. Is this in Chicago?

    Personally I LOVE Halloween and giving out candy to trick-or-treaters and I LOVE complimenting the kids on their creative costumes. One year a lone little boy, who looked about 4-years-old, came to my door with mom looking on from the street. He was dressed up as a little bunny rabbit and one of the cutest little boo-boo bears I’ve ever met! He was very shy too so instead of giving him a small piece of candy from the bag, I gave the little guy a huge candy bar! It probably took him a month to eat.

    Every year, I purchase bags of candy BUT every year the number of trick-or-treaters who come to my door down here in Alabama diminishes. Last year, I had purchased 3 big bags of candy but had only ONE group of trick-or-treaters come to my door. I think I’d like to move up to Chicago just for next weekend!

  5. BL October 22, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    “Parents can view the livestream and assess the situation should a teen ever be in need of assistance.”

    A teen? I remember Halloween being for little kids, not teens. I think sixth grade was the last time for me, and for the other kids my age.

  6. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    If your child can’t navigate the neighborhood, they’re not ready for Trick-or-Treating without you (or, as a nice alternative, an older friend or sibling). If they’re able to navigate the neighborhood, they don’t need a tracking device.

  7. Reziac October 22, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    James… I’m surprised more parents don’t use ankle bracelets on their kids… I mean, those kids could be anywhere, doing anything!!


  8. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    “A teen? I remember Halloween being for little kids, not teens”

    Trick-or-treating is for little kids. Teenagers move on to Halloween parties (or at least, they did when I was one.)

  9. Rook October 22, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    What’s the point of the livestream? Every kid and their dog has cell phones these days, and all those creepy iPhones have face talk. Not to mention there’s always a chaperon there to drive you from neighborhood to neighborhood when you’re out trick-or-treating. Or at least, we had to have one because we were all country kids taking a trip to the suburbs or a tour of the nearby ten miles and our parents knew we couldn’t walk that on our own. And our chaperons/drivers always dressed up and had fun going to the houses with us to see how decorated the houses were and what all other people dressed up as. Some of our neighborhoods we hit were like those ChicagoDad mentioned. Decked out houses and yards, kids everywhere, no crime or pranks or tricks except for maybe having to get past that hiding werewolf or that scarecrow you thought was a prop. Hopefully that hasn’t changed in the five years since I last went, because I’m hoping to return to that neighborhood this year with my kid! I’ll probably always go with my kid because Halloween is my favorite holiday and I love to get out to see it. 🙂

  10. Catherine R October 22, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    Once more it’s the same old story. Kids are safe when they are provided with the education they need to deal with a situation, and the confidence to go out and face the world alone. This works when parents are diligent not over vigilant. You check costumes are safe, avoid inflammable costumes. Teach the kids the basic manners for the evening. Teach them to watch out for each other and let them loose.

  11. SaraBeth October 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    I can’t imagine taking this away from my kids when they are old enough to head out on their own. We get 100s of kids each Halloween….Once kids are old enough to follow traffic rules and keep safe from cars I don’t see the point of ruining this. There are so many parents out and about, if a kid runs into trouble they can ask another parent out with younger kids. Why are we taking the sense of community out of everything?

  12. lollipoplover October 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    “A teen? I remember Halloween being for little kids, not teens. I think sixth grade was the last time for me, and for the other kids my age.”

    I don’t card on Halloween and will give candy to anyone in a costume. I’m just glad kids are out! I’m happy to see them keeping this tradition alive despite all of this parental interference.

    My teen will be taking the littles on our street out trick-or-treating this year as part of a regular babysitting/pet sitting gig. In costume, of course. I also personally love parents who dress up. Halloween is an awesome community event around here (though we get closer to 50-75 kids…seems less and less each year, sadly) and a great night of fun for us adults too. I can’t wait to raid the chocolate and steal Twix bars, Snickers, Reeses Cups from their bags. I have to *inspect* it, right?

  13. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    My daughter had an easy path through the trick-or-treating years. Grandma lived on a houseboat, and they had everything organized. The kids would all gather at one end of the moorage, and work their way down to the other end, together. There were only about a half-dozen of them, so the candy would be divided accordingly. It took maybe 30, 45 minutes to go from end to end, and at the end, each kid had the same amount of candy that it used to take us all night to accumulate.

    After the trick-or-treating, everybody would gather in the parking lot for a bonfire/potluck.

  14. SanityAnyone? October 22, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    As long as they don’t eat the ecstasy-laced candy shaped like dominoes, skulls, and Superman logos (that no child has actually received but is being splashed all over FB) and save me some Reese Cups to break my diet with, I think they’re fine.

  15. Havva October 22, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Rook, I’m going to check out the old neighborhood this Halloween as well. And like you I just love everything Halloween, still do. I probably would have enjoyed my teens a lot more if I knew littles I could have escorted, because of course the teens didn’t do much trick-or-treating. Middle school being a sort of grace period to wean yourself off trick-or-treating, which my friends and I took as a last Hurah. Sadly, I’m bracing myself. I’m told Halloween has taken a real hit in my old neighborhood..

    My parents say things are pretty dead in the old neighborhood now. (Though candy corn and corny “magic” tricks do have a way of fending kids off). But still they should at least SEE kids. They say that as far as they know there aren’t many kids in the neighborhood these days. But the neighborhood elementary school enrollment numbers are, if anything, up from when I was a kid. And at least in my younger days a kid wanting company need only head for the park and wait a little bit. But at least until I left for college Halloween always had loads of kids about, and the cars stayed out of it. The infrastructure was really perfect for kids to walk about. So I’ll be investigating this Halloween.

  16. JJ October 22, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    The term that resonates with me in the product description is “peace of mind”. I’m a free range parent and wouldn’t give a second thought to something like trick or treating, but now that my kids are teenagers I can appreciate how it feels to lose your peace of mind. I never worried about them walking a half mile to the ice cream place when they were younger or any of the traditional stranger-danger that gets discussed here, but now there are times that I worry when they go out because the rope is much longer and quite frankly there have been times when they’ve gotten into trouble–I already know they won’t do the right thing 100% of the time. (And yes I do pull back when this happens, but I can’t lock them in their rooms until they are 18…)

    I bring this up here because I totally get how bad it feels to worry but I think parents are on the wrong track toward easing their peace of mind. Today its trick or treating. In a few years it will be going to parties/getting in cars with friends/whatever it is teenagers do and you can control it less and less. Maybe you think you can rest easy with this app or whatever it is now, but what are you going to do in the next situation. Parents need to get comfortable with being a little nervous when their kids are out and about. Take it from me, someone who never worried about this stuff when they were younger. You have got to let them go eventually, better to do it in small increments not only for them but for you.

  17. Melanie October 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    What do you do when you can’t give your child the opportunity to go around without you? I’d love to let my 10 year old go around with a group of her friends but when I mentioned this to a couple of other parents, it was like I’d suggested setting the kids on fire.

  18. JIll Smith October 22, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    ‘“Please note: A “sense” of independence is NOT independence, any more than a criminal who has to wear an ankle bracelet is truly free.”’

    “I think your comparison is off here. Yes, it’s better to be free than to have an ankle monitoring bracelet on. But those aren’t the convict’s choices… “free” is off the table. It’s “ankle-monitoring bracelet on at home” or “jail”.”

    I think Lenore was speaking of the inmates released from prison who are required to wear the ankle bracelets after release. In California, it is/was for life for sex offenders. As if the registry wasn’t enough to keep them from having a life, whether they are homeless or not, they are required to figure out a way to charge twice a day or get violated and sent back to prison. If someone is really that dangerous, they need to have a longer sentence. If kids aren’t prepared enough to go trick or treating then they don’t go.

    When my kids were younger I would drop them off at the end of a road and they would walk up that road and meet me at the next road down. And that was the few times that it was really cold out. Otherwise they went with each other or their friends, sometimes when they were younger I tagged along just to be out looking at costumes while the hubby handed out candy at home.

  19. Jill October 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    How is that app “fun?” It sounds like just one more stupid piece of technology meant to send the message that going outdoors is unsafe and potentially life~threatening.
    Kids who come around to my neighborhood on Halloween, even fairly big kids, are shadowed by their parents, who stand about ten feet away and watch the transaction like hawks. I’m tempted to grab a kid by the wrist and snake him inside the house, slamming to door shut, just to freak out their parents. That would be wrong and it might land me in jail, but it would be fun.

  20. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    “I think Lenore was speaking of the inmates released from prison who are required to wear the ankle bracelets after release.”

    Inmates who have completed their sentences walk out and are done. Most inmates who are released either have time left on their prison sentences (they are paroled) or they have probation sentences that follow their prison sentences. In either case, they’re given the choice of “stay in prison until your sentence is fully served” or “be monitored and subject to a whole list of restrictions that free people don’t have”.

  21. Jessica October 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    My church is doing a trunk or treat, and we’ll go, though I’ve never much cared for them. I personally love walking my kids (4 and 6 now) and going trick or treating. Last year in our area about one in three houses were giving out candy, which is what I remember as a kid. My parents only drove if we asked to go to the richer part of town, where they handed out dollar bills and king size candy bars. I also noticed last year that kids around eight and older generally had no parents with them which was awesome.

  22. ChicagoDad October 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Hi John! Halloween is still fun here in our far southwest side Chicago neighborhood. Come on up to visit and we’ll put you up in the guest room. 🙂

  23. John October 22, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    Thanks ChicagoDad! I may take you up on that! 😉

  24. Emily October 22, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    I’m not surprised about this approach to Halloween, because it’s not just on Halloween. A little while ago, there was an article about a cellphone app designed for parents to track their kids all the time. Every summer, there seems to be an article about summer camps that film the kids and livestream it to their parents, so they can watch remotely. I’m pretty sure there was an ad for a camera designed to be mounted on a car dashboard, so parents can watch their infants and toddlers in the back seat, while they drive….which is, ironically, extremely dangerous. My point is, a lot of situations that used to be “Child goes independently” have become “Child goes with an adult,” or, with the advent of new technology “Child is remotely tracked throughout the activity by an adult.” If that’s the new normal, and parents now aren’t trusting their adolescent children to navigate from school to music lessons (or whatever) in broad daylight without a virtual chaperone, they’re not going to allow it for elementary school children trick-or-treating at night. I still think the constant surveillance is wrong, because children being constantly monitored by adults are being robbed of the chance to become adults, but tracking kids on Halloween is really just the tip of the iceberg here. If constant adult supervision (physical or virtual) is the norm, then why would parents suspend that rule on Halloween night?

  25. AmyO October 22, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    I was struck by the teen comment too. Forget that teens are probably not out trick-or-treating, but seriously, why are parents remotely monitoring their teenagers? I remember being out with my friends in high school, and I can’t even imagine my mom watching and listening to what I was doing. Of course, my mom wouldn’t even dream of tracking me like that.

    I love Halloween since kids can just do their thing. My aunt commented last year on how many kids were walking around without adults (we get a couple of hundred kids in our neighborhood). I said, who would try something with all these witnesses? She dropped it after that lol.

  26. Missus H October 22, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    I vividly remember one Halloween when the little old lady who answered one door was so taken with my homemade Raggedy Ann costume that she wanted me to come in and show it to her husband. I knew I wasn’t supposed to go into the house, but I assessed, determined she was not a threat, and was paraded in front of grandpa in his recliner watching tv (and not at all, despite his wife’s excitement, impressed with a hand formed, latch-hook rug red wig. Thanks, Mom.)

    And then the most shocking thing happened: they let me go! I am not, now, typing this 43 years later from a cell in their basement! I wish more kids would feel capable of judging such situations for themselves; they aren’t idiots, after all.

    My second grader wants to trick-or-treat with two friends this year without parents, and I’m contemplating allowing it on a preplanned route (just FYI for the rural and suburban readers, we live on a grid with all streets numbered, so it’s very simple to say “you can go down 9th Street to Fifth Avenue and then right to Third Street and then back up to Seventh Ave and back home. A nice, rational rectilinear plan). But of course there’s the old fear: what if the other moms are horrified when I propose it? Still contemplating it…

  27. Lyne October 22, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    Like Melanie, I would also love to send my 10 and 12 year old boys out to trick or treat on their own. But they want to go with friends and the other parents think it’s crazy to let them go without supervision. They tell me that they’ll watch my kids for me, but that’s not what I want. I’m not looking to get out of trick or treating, I would like them to have the experience to go out without parents. So, I’ll probably end up tagging along…

  28. JKP October 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    The last city I lived in had official trick or treating hours for the city, but it ended so absurdly early with the goal of getting all the kids back inside before it got dark (I think to reduce traffic accidents). It made it difficult for anyone to go trick or treating, especially for parents who didn’t get home from work in time to go out with their little kids or to be home and hand out candy. Most everyone skipped trick or treating and would go to the Sat daytime trunk and treat parties instead.

  29. BL October 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

    “And then the most shocking thing happened: they let me go!”

    So it happened once. That doesn’t prove anything.


  30. Tsu Dho Nimh October 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

    Good grief … wifi tele-coptering!

  31. Barry Lederman October 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    Hi Lenore, this is the first time I have ever disagreed with you on a post – so congratulations to me. The premise of your complaint is that kids can roam free on holloween but this device will end that freedom.

    As someone who lives in a place with a lot of kids, I get a lot of trickortreaters. They already lack the freedom we enjoyed as kids because they are almost always accompanied by an adult. This device is perhaps a notch better than having an adult physically on your tail.

  32. BL October 22, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    “This device is perhaps a notch better than having an adult physically on your tail.”

    That’s the problem. That so many are willing to settle for a lesser evil. How about no evil at all?

  33. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    “so many are willing to settle for a lesser evil. How about no evil at all?”

    Not since Eve made a fruit salad…

  34. sexhysteria October 23, 2015 at 4:22 am #

    I pay cash. Some kids today even accept credit cards.

  35. Carrie October 24, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    In my neighborhood, patents always go out with children. Not necessarily because we are helicopter-y, but because a handful of houses hand out beers and Jell-O shots to moms and dads. There are two houses that have wings going on their grills too. I will be sad when my kids no longer allow me to go with them.

  36. Donna October 25, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    At least the kids are allowed to go trick or treating alone. I don’t believe that this will ever be something allowed to my daughter. Not because I object. The best Halloween for me would be for the adults to gather and have drinks while the kiddos go off trick or treating. Alas, that will never happen for my kid since none of her friends are allowed/are willing to walk a block to school by themselves, let alone all around the whole neighborhood and at night. Unless she wants to go alone – and what fun is that – she will be stuck being escorted by other people’s parents for the entirety of her trick or treating experience.

  37. Lisa October 26, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    The app *could* be fun. I could see kids using it on their phones to keep up with EACH OTHER, particularly friends in different neighborhoods or even different cities. But I can’t see what *I* would want it. When she was younger, she went trick or treating with friends and parents followed behind. The kids had a blast, we got to chat and catch up and say hi to neighbors. When they were in 4th or 5th grade, we decided to wait at the house and sent them out together. We drank wine and handed out candy, the kids still had a blast. When she was 12 she determined that she was too old for trick or treating and went to a party instead (moved, new friends, different plans). I didn’t feel like we were helicoptering when we followed – it felt very natural, it was a fun, neighborhood, family holiday and we were all out having a good time together. Independence does not need to mean never having parents around.

  38. Tommy Udo October 26, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Kids don’t even go out trick-or-treating without adults any more. For years, kids of all ages knock on our door, and their mom is always standing down on the sidewalk watching to make sure my wife and I don’t abduct them. When I was a kid, trick-or-treating was a kid’s thing, when we got to go out at night and run around the surrounding neighborhoods unaccompanied. I still have happy memories of how much fun it was. Sad little brats of today won’t have that to look back on.

  39. Katie October 29, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    Our kids are too young (5 and 2) to go out without us, particularly since our neighborhood has sections of blocks with no sidewalks and no streetlights. We’ve only been taking the older one out trick or treating for the last 3 years, but I’ve noticed an increasing number of parents who insist on going along to trick or treat but don’t want to actually walk with their kids. Seriously, this is in a neighborhood where lots don’t get bigger than around a quarter acre, so it’s not like kids are walking 1/2 mile between houses.

    Instead we have a soccer mommy creeping along at around 2 MPH, Instagramming pictures of costumes from her iPhone from behind the wheel and paying zero attention to her surroundings while her school-aged special snowflakes go from house to house. It’s a miracle no one has been hit by one of these idiots. Almost without exception these people are not from our neighborhood but come here to trick or treat in a safe, low traffic area – rather than parking somewhere, they endanger everyone out there on Halloween by creeping along in their cars from house to house.

    We and most of our neighbors who have elementary-aged children walk around with the kids, usually with beer or mixed drinks in hand for the grownups. Our 2 year old is the youngest kid on the block by a solid couple of years and this is her first year actually trick or treating, so my husband and I will be taking turns walking her up to houses (mainly to make sure she says “thank you”).

    Our church did a trunk or treat last weekend but it’s about fun family activities, not “safe” trick or treating. Nobody was doing trunk or treat in lieu of the real thing on Halloween!