Finding Loved Ones
“It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?” The question posed by this old TV announcement can now be answered more easily than before, thanks to personal GPS tracking devices created for kids.
The idea behind the trend comes from parents concerned about the whereabouts of their children. They want to see all their kids’ location and movements, even in real time. The fear of kidnapping by child predators has some parents scared and very vigilant. Parents may also want to track their teen to make sure they are being safe and staying in designated areas.
To meet these needs, manufacturers have developed a variety of GPS units designed specifically for kids. Small children can use an bracelet attached to their wrist, or phone-like device that can fit in a bag. Older students can carry small golf ball-sized units in a pocket or backpack.
Parents appreciate the ability to trace their kids’ routes. Some GPS devices issue automatic text alerts every few minutes to a smartphone or computer. Other apps let adults see kids’ steps and actions in real time. Many adults have indicated that the updated system makes them feel more secure and knowledgeable as a parent.
Although to some it may seem intrusive to track children, the system does help parents make sure their children walk and arrive safely at the bus step and even step onto the correct bus. After all, there are a few dozen buses to choose from! Parents can also see when and where older students entered and left their friends’ vehicles on the way home. Devices can be programmed with set boundaries. For example, when a teen leaves the boundaries, the parent will know and can choose an appropriate action.
Tracking Down a Problem
Of course, no system is foolproof. The devices could be tampered with or simply taken out of the pocket and left in one location to give a false report. So, the GPS signal could give correct location, but not necessarily the location of its owner.
Critics claim that personal GPS devices invade the privacy of teens who need to form an identity. The devices could falsely make parents feel safe. They could also reinforce upon children their parents’ fears of the outside world. These fears can easily extend to the actions of the teen and show lack of trust for the child to make any responsible decisions or actions.