Parents Using High Tech to Keep Track of Kids

Excerpts from Associated Press story:

The Schmidts use a service called Teen Arrive Alive, one of a few companies
that work with Nextel wireless phones and a tracking service from uLocate
Communications Inc. [This lets parents track where their children are driving and how fast.]

Other devices that track on-the-go kids include the Wherifone, a specialized
locator phone that uses the Global Positioning System, and the CarChip, a device
about the size of two nine-volt batteries stacked together that, installed in a
vehicle, monitors speed, distance and driving habits.

Interest in the United States is growing quickly, as it already has in other
countries Â? Canada and the United Kingdom included. Teen Arrive Alive, which
began offering its tracking service in May 2004, now has subscribers in every
state and is particularly popular in the South and the East, company officials
say.

These days, it’s just one way technology is helping parents monitor their
kids.

Georgia-based Mealpay.com began two years ago, for instance, as a way for
parents to electronically prepay school lunches. Now Â? at the request of some
parents Â? the service allows them to monitor what kids order in the
cafeteria.

Meanwhile, Boston-based MobileLime allows teens to use a cell phone to buy
items at fast-food restaurants, grocery stores and other participating
retailers. The cell phone is linked to a credit or prepaid card, so parents can
check.

Then there’s “alerts” from U.K.-based Langtree SkillsCenter Ltd. Parents are
notified by text message, e-mail or phone whether a student has shown up for
class and can get progress reports (good and bad) on schoolwork. Just starting
up, the company has signed about 10 U.K. schools so far and is expanding to the
United States.

Beginning as early as the introduction of the automobile and telephone,
new technology has let children escape the watchcare of their parents.
They could go places and talk to people without their parents knowing.
How many teens have made major life-changing mistakes because they were
empowered to go places and do things because of an automobile, but they
weren’t old enough to use good judgement?

I know some youth will be troubled to think that their parents can use
technology to track their movements, speed, and behavior (online or in
school, for example), but since when do children have the right to go
wherever they want as fast as they want, and do whatever they want?

Especially in a day when courts are holding parents liable for their children’s criminal behavior (here’s a link about Texas law),
parents have the right to use technology to help them in their parental
role. Of course, parents may also misuse technology and it may
backfire. They may go too far using threats and penalties as they try
to “control” their children’s behavior, instead of the better
approaching of loving them, communicating with them, and rewarding them
for their good behavior.

There is great power in text messaging an “i love you” message on a
cell phone, for example. I think we need to mix the parental monitoring
with parental messages of love, if we want this new high tech parenting
to work.

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One Comment

  1. First of all, I think that the whole tracking idea is great when it is warranted. If you have a problem teen like me it gives great peace of mind. Or Not. I also believe that the power of these devices can be abused. If you use it just to be nosey and you have had no reason to track your child, Shame, Shame, Shame. I bought my gps from http://www.gpsteentracking.com after a whole lot of investigating. Theirs did’t have any monthly fees and was fairly price. Now I just use it as a deterrent since I have confronted my daughter several times with the tracking data. I think that the deterrent is the best value of the whole thing. Anyway, thats my 2cents.

    Jay

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