Gone are the days when a teen could tell her parents that she's going to the movies when she's really sneaking away to a keg party.
Except Car CPS and or bikes, GPS has moved into the realm of parenting, and today's moms and dads can know exactly where their children are at all times.
Parents can download a program such as Loopt or Glympse onto their teen's cell phone or they can install a device into their teen's car. CarChip Pro collects data on the time and date for each car trip, distance, speed, hard accelerations and decelerations. The Real Time RT Tracker allows you to monitor your child in the car in real-time; the exact location of the car can be sent to your computer every 1, 2, or 5 minutes.
For younger children, there are small GPS units such as Insignia's Little Buddy Child Tracker ($99) that you can stuff into backpacks and lunchboxes. The Little Buddy will send you an alert when your little tyke leaves a designated area.
The new Lok8u Num8 Child Locator GPS Watch ($180) for kids ages 3 to 12 is designed to look like a real watch so a kidnapper doesn't think to rip it off your child's wrist. And if the watch is forcibly removed, an alert is sent to the parents' cell phones detailing the child's location. Parents can set up "safe zones", and if kids stray, the watch will then automatically switch to "live track" mode and the child's location is continuously monitored, updated and sent to the designated email as an address with postcode and a link to Google maps.
With many of these GPS child-tracking programs and gadgets, you can watch your child's movement on a map on a screen, whether its your computer, iPhone, Blackberry. Most often you're watching a little icon--your child--moving around on a Google Map.
Some parents view these devices as a godsend. These parents are concerned about kidnappers snatching their preschoolers or they don't trust their teenagers. They want to know when their kid who is playing outside leaves the driveway or walks across the street. But others are appalled by what some are calling "GPS parenting."
A review of the Little Buddy on Engadget.com reads:
Insignia, Best Buy's house brand, has just listed an incredibly invasive and humiliating new GPS tracker on its site, and rather than promoting it as just that, the marketing brains have decided it best to aim this at paranoid mums and dads who've done such a poor job raising their offspring that they can't even trust 'em to trek out on their own.
And "Free-Range Kids" author Lenore Skenazy, the mom who famously allowed her son to ride the subway alone in NYC, wrote about the Little Buddy in her blog:
What upsets me is the rationale behind the product: That children are in danger every second they step out the door, and that any GOOD parent keeps them under constant surveillance â€” either in person, or, now, by GPS.
Not only does this reinforce the notion that we are living among depraved monsters, it also reinforces the notion that if, God forbid, anything bad DOES happen to a child, it's the parents' fault. They should have been there. They should have expected the very worst. Every parent should treat every day as potentially their childrenâ€™s last.
Over at Momlogic, where a recent article covered GPS parenting, a mom posted her feelings in a comment:
Nope, no way, no how. I have custody of my teenage niece and the only way I would use the tracking is if she is really, really late and not answering her phone. I think it is an invasion of privacy and asking for conflict...It smacks of distrust, dishonesty, and secrecy--the one thing you are trying to teach your teen not to do.