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GPSing…your kid?

It’s the new and improved leash.  For parents who once found it necessary to literally attach their kid to their hip (or wrist) with the velcroed harness…some new devices have been developed to enable these overly protective parents to keep their eyes on their slightly older kids.

Disney mobile (is it that surprising that Disney has expanded to the mobile game?) has come up with a device that tracks your kid using their cellphone.  They call it the *family locator* (oh good, so you can keep tabs on your spouse too!) and it uses GPS technology to keep everyone connected. 

cellphne.jpgAt first glance it seems win/win.  The kid gets a cellphone far earlier than they actually need a cellphone, and the parents get to know exactly where their kid is at all times they are away from them.  But is that really what we want?  To literally know where our kids/partner/family is at all times?  What happened to independence?  Trust?

The obvious reason that this phone makes sense is the one no one wants to think about…missing kids.  In this instance, it would be amazing to have the technology to track your kid down if they are lost, say at Disneyland, or so much worse, snatched.  The push of a button tells you, or the authorities, exactly where your little one is and the GPS phone might actually save a life.  That is, if Junior still has the phone on them during the incident….and if the battery is charged.  😐

Hopefully no parent has to go through losing their child, and most won’t, so beyond the little used emergency/safety features of the phone, the other issue is teaching trust and independence to your kids (oh yeah, and coming to the realization that 7 year-olds don’t need cellphones!!)  My mother was fairly over-protective.  And when I say fairly, I mean REALLY, REALLY.  But even so, she allowed me to push boundaries and make mistakes along the way…sometimes.  Looking back, it seems that the times that she was most lenient and trusting were the times I that I didn’t break her trust.  Go figure.

If we try to stay on top of their every move, will it just make the kids more creative at coming up with stories for why they are late or where they were and with who?  Kids will be kids, and they need to discover the world on their terms, not when their parents are ready to let go. 

GPSing a restaurant is great.  GPSing people…I’m not sure I’m cool with that.  Not yet, anyway.

September 27, 2006 - 9:07 am

dan - As Shannen points out, the cell phone is an imperfect method for tracking a person. They can run out of juice, or be lost.

The next logical step is an implant that would allow tracking. A GPS implant would need power, so isn’t as easy as the microchips that dogs and cats get these days. However, RFID chips don’t need power …

How far off is it before hospitals are offering to bio-chip your kid on the way out of the maternity ward?

September 27, 2006 - 12:43 pm

Alicia - Personally I like the implant idea. They can have them expire when they are 18, or 21…25 sounds safe.

Just wait until Peanut is out of your sight. How I’d love to look on a screen right now and see that my babes are exactly where they should be.

Irrational? Quite possibly.

September 28, 2006 - 2:05 pm

Gary - Dan-o, RFID is an extremely short range technology. It wouldn’t be very effective to finding missing children becuase you would need to scan them at approximately arm’s length. At that point, I could probably find the kid using my eyeballs….maybe.

I’ll bet that scientists could come up with a way to power a GPS in someone’s body simply by using your body energy. An extra-plus, you could eat more becuase the electronics that you’re energy is powering needs calories! Although chip implants kind of freak me out. Haven’t doomsday prophets equated implanted chips to the mark of the beast? Maybe i’m mixing up my apocalypse predictions from The Enquirer but that sounds familiar.

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