Fearmonger Weighs In on “Don’t GPS Your Kid”

Hi Readers! I have a piece running on ParentDish titled, “GPSing Your Kid is Crazy.” It argues that, far from really giving parents “peace of mind, “GPSing does the opposite. It reinforces the idea that our kids are in danger every second they are not in our line of sight. It makes us distrust our community, which means we hold our kids even tighter.

The constant connectivity of GPS also makes us panic whenever we CAN’T reach our kids — an experience I’ve approximated when I couldn’t get my sons on their cell phones. It’s the same panic you feel when you turn around and suddenly don’t see your toddler at the grocery. And, just like that panic, it’s usually unnecessary: the vast majority of times,  your kid shows up soon after. But the fear is overwhelming, and now — THANKS to electronic connections — it happens all the time, even with older and older kids, the second we don’t know PRECISELY where they are.

My piece added that GPSing doesn’t even prevent “the worst” — abduction, ‘natch, — from occurring. It just goes along for the ride.

And while I appreciate my sons have cell phones, I think “tracking” them is going too far. Anyway, here is what one guy wrote in response:

Thoughts from someone who sells GPS tracking devices…

“Peace of mind comes when we pretty much believe in our kids and our community.”

What community these days can be trusted?

These “evil” people can drive to anywhere and everywhere our kids go.

I do however agree with the cell phone trackers “going along for the ride” idea.

Whenever I sell a parent a system I explain the importance of the “panic” system that goes along with it.

What this does is proactively protect our children in case of an emergency. With a simple flick of a switch mounted by the cars blinker the car sends a panic message to the parent/guardians cell phone. At that point I usually tell my customers to call the child and set up a code… “everything OK”, “yes going to Cassie’s house for a few hours” Means I’m in trouble send help.

Its not a matter of false security, its a matter of safety…

Why shouldn’t we know where our kids are? Just like my commercial clients tell there drivers, If your not doing anything wrong theres nothing to worry about! — GPS-Mike

And there you have it (typos and all): The way at least some of the world is thinking about what makes for “sensible” parenting. — Lenore

84 Responses

  1. Doesn’t his whole point stem from the fact he’s trying to sell something?

  2. If you can’t live in a community where you can balance a healthy skepticism and caution with a general trust in most of the people around you most of the time, you might as well arm yourself and go live on top of a mountain.

    If all these people’s kids are learning to think about community the way their parents do (and fortunately not all will) civilization is going to break down entirely in another couple of generations. I really mean that.

  3. I read some of the responses to the original article. One mom’s struck me as part of the problem we’re facing. She said her daughter was out at 2 am driving around. Through her GPS she found her and made her come home. How come she couldn’t call the girls house where she was supposed to be? Make sure the parents knew she was supposed to be staying over there? When did we stop talking to each other? That’s when every one became “strangers” rather than neighbors. Do any of you actually talk to the parents of your kids friends? of do you just use their cell phone and by pass the adults?

    Cell phones were supposed to keep our kids safe. Now they’re not enough?

  4. i followed Lenore’s twitter link to this article the other day, and read the comments. It absolutely terrified me… the level of panic, and stupidity, just hurts. Many of them were arguing for implanting chips in kids at birth, one mother said GPS was a godsend — every morning she checks on the location of her whole family, including her college age daughter “to be sure she’s in her dorm where she belongs”. She didn’t seem to realize that she’s seeing the location of the PHONE, not her daughter! Not to mention, that if her daughter knows she does this she’s simply going to leave her phone in her dorm room when she goes out “for the night” — which means she wouldn’t have it with her if something DID happen!

    Don’t even get me started on the topic of implanting chips… other than to say I think dental records and DNA work just fine for identifying bodies… unless they’re invisioning homing beacons? I bet all those samctimommies feed their precious ones only organic food, but they’d put a homing signal in their skin? excuse my french, but wtf????

  5. “If your not doing anything wrong theres nothing to worry about”

    Wow, that’s a classic rationalization used by Police States everywhere. If we have anything to be afraid of, it’s this sort of attitude.

    “Do any of you actually talk to the parents of your kids friends?”

    Living in a small community I know most of them pretty well. But the thing about small communities is that they are less a physical reality than a state of mind. Community is what you make of it. Those who choose to live in isolation are susceptible to the fear being sold on the media street corners–like a bad drug.

  6. Nothing says “I don’t trust you” like monitoring someone’s whereabouts via the GPS in their phone. So first, there’s that. Second, didn’t George Orwell write a cautionary tale about something similar? What are we teaching our children here? (I know I’m preaching to the choir. I just had to vent.)

  7. What really makes me mad about all the GPS thing is not only the lack of trust in society (okay, we’ve all had bad experiences with someone), but the lack of trust and communication with your own beloved kids.
    For most of this people, their children are the most precious gift God has bestowed on this planet. But they can’t even trust that their kids will tell them the truth! Let alone trust that they’re capable of weaving out of trouble (even at 14, you just KNOW what situations you should avoid), or that they can improvise when things don’t work out as planned.
    Don’t they realise the venomous message they’re teaching their children? For me, GPSing my teenager is telling him at his face that he’s a total fool, a puppet in the hands of the monsters in this world. Or in the best case, that I cannot trust his word when he tells me where he’s going.
    Now, that’s a self-esteem boost for him, don’t you think?

  8. I’m not too bothered by the fear. If some parents want to waste their money, they can do that. What I don’t understand is that, although a lot of people complain about the government violating their privacy, they seem to have no problem with violating their kid’s privacy.

    (And for anyone who is wondering: yes! kids have a right to privacy too.)

  9. @Lola, i couldn’t agree with you more. The mother who was so “proud” that she’d use GPS to discover her daughter out driving around at 2am didn’t seem to realize that she did nothing to solve the real problem — and now her daughter knows to not carry her phone when she’s sneaking out!

  10. Ben, the fear bothers me because these people affect our world, and my son will have to live in a world filled with their children! It just creeped me out to see the number of people who, quite literally, think there are pedophiles hiding behind every tree just waiting for you to turn away for a second.

  11. I trust my kids and know most, if not all of the parents/kids my kids would be with. It comes down to parental involvement. The first time my kids want to go to a new friends how I insist I take them. This gives me a chance to introduce myself and feel comfortable with where they are going and what they might be up too.

  12. Lola and mvb, no kidding about teaching the daughter to NOT have her phone with her. I read somewhere about a kid whose car had a GPS. So he’d drive to a freind’s house he was allowed to go to and then go in someone else’s car with people he wasn’t suppose to hang out with and/or to places/areas he wasn’t allowed to go.

    How about the mom who checks up on her daughter in college? Kind of creepy.

    One comment I read on ParentDish sounds like a parent who maybe does need a GPS on her child (non-verbal, Down syndrome, and autistic “runner”). In most other cases, while having GPS could in certain circumstances to help find (the rare) abducted or lost child most of the time it’s a waste of money. While I don’t believe most parents would be obsessive in their monitoring of the GPS (or start cyber-stalking their kids), they seem to marketed on the premise that you should be obsessive.

  13. So say GPS is simply a common feature of a cell phone (as it likely will be in the future) at no major additional cost. Is it a horrible, helicopterish parent who does not disable it? I’m not sure I see the problem with simply having it – yes, checking up on your college age daughter is creepy – but simply having it in the event your kid got lost while playing in the woods or at the creek, or something of that nature? Why is that such a terrible thing?

  14. “Just like my commercial clients tell there drivers, If your not doing anything wrong theres nothing to worry about!”

    The news that they have nothing to fear is guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of innocents everywhere.

  15. nice reasoning from a SALESPERSON. Seems like that would discredit most of what he says.

  16. @sky — it IS a common feature already, and no i don’t think it’s horrible to not disable it for just such an incident as you’re envisioning. But, go read the parentdish comments — those parents really think the police should have access to the GPS network, and their children should have chips, and we should all give up all semblance of privacy and sanity because there are predators absolutely everywhere. I feel very sad for their children growing up with that world view.

    Personally, I can’t think of a single reason I would want my cell phone company logging my whereabouts 12/7.

  17. Fear sells. Ask the government (or H.L. Mencken).

  18. If parents *really* wanted to keep their kids away from predators and killers, they’d need to keep them from their home, school, and church, cause that’t where most abusers hang out.

  19. For normal children, this level of monitoring is absolutely ludicrous! However, I have a special-needs younger cousin, and something like this would be a godsend. He’s not verbal and runs when he’s spooked. He’s got a bracelet that describes his issues and lists cellphone numbers, but having a GPS chip in that bracelet would give his parents some peace of mind when they go out in unfamiliar areas. Of course they take reasonable precautions (make sure an adult is close by and WATCHING at all times), but the boy’s behavior can be unpredictable.

    It’s a shame, though, that special monitoring like this that would be truly beneficial for caregivers of people with special needs would even be considered for use on perfectly normal children.

  20. As mentioned above – this is from a salesman and FEAR SELLS. I defy anyone who can come up with a case of a consultant who was hired by a school district to evaluate security and said “Everything is fine, don’t change a thing.” Obviously what is needed at your hyper-safe suburban school is chain-link with razor wire, metal detectors, armed guards, a Blackwater-style SWAT team on stand-by, video cameras everywhere, panic buttons and lock-from-the-office security doors in every classroom, and everything else offered by the huge and growing security industry. Sure, we’ll have to take these “improvements” out of the books-and-teachers budget but what does that matter if we know the kids are safe because the consultant said so?

  21. the recent law and order season premier was all about this.

  22. My 11 yo daughter does not have–because she does not need— a cell phone. But many of her friends have one, and what bothers me is the false security that she assumes because of a PHONE. For instance, me: “the police say don’t go to that park at night because a lot of crime happens there.” Her: “but [friend] has a PHONE! We’ll have the PHONE with us!” As if it’s a bodyguard? I’m hoping parents aren’t just giving their kids phones and skipping over the street smarts.

  23. @Sky, nope, not horrible, that’s exactly why people who go into the deep bush to hike, ski, or hunt use gps. My younger kids Dad is a Forestry Guide and always carries one when he’s guiding, and so will my kids when they’re old enough to go with him. That’s common sense, stalking your college age kids, is the opposite.

    Micro-chipping your kids like they’re a stereo or a dog is more than a little Orwellian, isn’t it? “1984” should never have been removed from the required reading list. (And it’s an appalling step backwards for childrens rights.)

  24. I don’t really see that being able to locate your child (or child’s phone) is really so awful. I think it is fine if it gives parents a measure of comfort when letting their children be off on there own. Every parent has to find what works for their family.

    As for a kid’s privacy, yes kid’s should be able to have some degree of privacy but a parent does have the right to know where their child is when away from home.

  25. I just read the comments on the original article. I cannot believe some of the parents today. If one were to listen to them you would think we all lived in some kind of horror movie. I honestly cannot imagine living with that much fear of everything. The world has not changed as much as most people think it has. Abductions are still rare, and molestation is still something that is usually done by people you know, not some random stranger. I for one link the cause of the problem my generation (I am almost 30) has to the litany of “Stranger Danger” we were assaulted with when I was in school. Now we are parents and all we can think about is how some “stranger” is going to come and snatch our children when in reality that is about as likely as getting hit by a falling meteor.

    I apologize if my post is a bit incoherent, but I just had to vent a bit, and my 6mo old is teething so I have not gotten much sleep.

  26. @Luna, agreed, completely, another common sense use for the technology.

  27. I read responses to both posts. Let me ask all of you: did you wear seatbelts when you were kids? Do you now? My guess is that anyone over 40 did not. Do you make your kids wear seatbelts? Why? You obviously survived without them.

    The fact that you did not have a cell phone or GPS when you were a child has no bearing on whether or not the cell phone or GPS is a reasonable thing for a child to carry now. Cell phones and GPSs are cheap enough now that it is entirely reasonable to carry one, even though the odds that a child might actually need it are small.

  28. My husband has GPS on his phone, and it has come in useful when I’ve spotted him still at work long after he promised to be home cooking dinner because he “forgot the time”. (Joking really!) When my kids have cellphones with GPS I won’t turn it off, but I won’t be continually following them. If they fail to show up or get lost while hiking or something it would be useful for finding them, but I wouldn’t use it to monitor them.

  29. If your teenage daughter is out at 2 a.m. and voluntarily not where she said she be your problem IS NOT TECHNOLOGICAL. This kind of “security” lets people leapfrog right over the actual problem.

  30. By the way, your clock is 12 hours ahead.

  31. Where this pertains to me, this is too funny. I actually recently purchased a GPS for my 1½ year old, and had pondered maybe having something like that for when he’s 8 or so and free-ranging in our woods.

    Yes, I, of all people, someone who absolutely supports free-range totally, bought a GPS. An Insignia “Little Buddy” from Best Buy, to be specific.

    I had good reason, though. Lenore’s heard the story (privately). He wandered off even with me in the area watching him, I guess I didn’t watch him close enough. We found him but it took awhile & he was definitely in an undesirable area. That close call really freaked me out & I determined that having a GPS on him which would go off were he to go too far from an established boundary would be great.

    Well, problem is, it doesn’t work that well. I tested it myself, and found that I had to go nearly 5 miles (yes, 5 miles!) from the established “comfort zone” before I was FINALLY alerted (via text message) of the “violation.” I returned it the next day for a full refund.

    I guess fencing would be better.

    I had intended for him to have one when he’s 8 or so & free-ranging in our woods, and that I would only track him if it wasn’t back by a certain time. I have often-times thought that such a device might also function as a “CYA” insurance policy–if someone accuses you of negligence, you produce this system and you’re covered.

    All of that said, I do agree with what Lenore is saying with regards to it becoming like a drug to where if, at any moment, they’re not track-able even just for 10 seconds, you’re apt to lose your mind. Maybe it starts OUT with a simple thought of “I just need a means of finding them if I can’t” but it’s apt to grow into much more than that, just like she says. Thus, there is no peace of mind after all.

    I am quite angry, if I can share this, at some of the comments there. Some are calling Lenore a moron, some have assumed she must not be a parent. I posted a scathing rebuttal to them there, and besides all of that, I’m just glad I’m not married to any of the posters with that tone or that they have any say-so over how I parent my children. They are someone who, if I knew them in real life, I would totally tune out with regards to their parenting opinions.


  32. Does technology really have to over run us all? Everything is good in moderation, but now things seem so extreme. I had never heard of the term, Free Range Kids. Although the concept has been in my mind for many years over much ridicule I might add. I am thrilled to have found your blog and I would LOVE to read this book!

  33. That guy is proof “fearmonger” is an actual job title. Convince as many people as possible the worst WILL happen unless they buy some security system or other. It’s disgusting.

  34. I read responses to both posts. Let me ask all of you: did you wear seatbelts when you were kids? Do you now? My guess is that anyone over 40 did not. Do you make your kids wear seatbelts? Why? You obviously survived without them.

    The fact that you did not have a cell phone or GPS when you were a child has no bearing on whether or not the cell phone or GPS is a reasonable thing for a child to carry now. Cell phones and GPSs are cheap enough now that it is entirely reasonable to carry one, even though the odds that a child might actually need it are small.

    The difference between seatbelts and GPS is that we know lack of seatbelts kills. Often. Car crashes are the number one cause of death in the US, and time after time it’s shown that they’re less likely to kill or disable if you’re belted in.

    Where is the proof that GPS systems pay for themselves that frequently?

  35. Think GPS is a good idea?

    Never let your child eat alone. This means even in your own house…no snacks in front of the TV, no snacks in the backyard, bedroom, etc.

    People can choke to death on a single bite of food.
    And the thing is, when this happens, they can’t yell for help.

    Fear Everything. Live your life in total fear.

  36. Hey, after all, “monger” is just an archaic term for “one who sells” something. This guy is quite literally a fear monger, since he has to sell fear to sell his gizmos.

  37. Uly, I’ll do you one better — where is the proof that these GPS-enabled cell phones have ever actually saved a kid from an actual danger? Not, “Billy wandered off and I was so worried but we found him,” but “Billy was actually about to be confronted with a serious danger that would have harmed him had he not been tracked.”

  38. Here’s another angle on the privacy issue. Once a wireless company has years’ worth of 24/7 location data, regardless whether the family has needed or used it, government investigators can subpoena the company to retrieve it.

    At that point, it could be a little like handing over several months’ worth of retroactive surveillance data on your kid. It’s unlikely to reveal anything remarkable, and yet think about it for a minute.

    If your 13 or 14-y/o and friends have been exploring an abandoned quarry on a regular basis where fencing and No Trespassing signs are in disrepair, you’ve helped collect the evidence.

    If your kid dabbled in some flavor of repetitive but short-term risk-taking, it came to your attention, and you resolved it yourselves, outsiders could still insert themselves months later.

    I’m running the risk of fear-mongering myself here, I know. I’m just imagining how I’d feel to be 15 and discovering that strangers were poring through two years of my GPS data, or to be a 13-year-old whose parents could sit down every week to review every route I’d taken. Both of those could cause fear.

    Thinking like a teenager a bit more: Presented with a tempting opportunity to go somewhere I know I shouldn’t, will the unit in my pocket push my 13-y/o brain toward higher risk, believing the GPS will save me? At 15, how hard is it to leave the phone with a friend, just after talking to Mom, while I leave the library for an hour?

    The bottom line for me as a parent is that nothing matters as much as building trust and openness. Kids who grow up learning to assess risk, exercise good judgment, and talk that through with parents and other adults, are likely to be healthy adults. GPS might help some families along that path, but it adds risks worth considering as well.

  39. Just now I witnessed the cell phone dependence from the other side — the child! My daughter’s friend just was here; she’s been here tons of times, very often on Fridays. The girls come here from school, play for the afternoon and the her mother picks her up at 8pm, after work she gets off work. This must be at least the 10x with exactly this routine. This little friend has a cell phone. The girl gets around on her own during the day. Her mother is a single parent, and I can understand the convenience, and yes, comfort, a cell phone offers both of them. But I just witnessed the down side. Girl didn’t have the cell phone with her today. Mother was a little late picking her up. Daughter starts crying a few minutes after 8pm because she was convinced something bad had happened to her mother . I was confused as to why she’d react so strongly since this was exactly the routine we’ve done many times before and, seriously, it was just a few minutes. Then I realized, they’re used to being in constant contact via the cell phones. She hadn’t had the 4 or 5, if not more, check up calls she is used to. I asked her if that’s why she felt so scared and she said yes. The next minute the doorbell rang, the mother of course. So, obviously, it’s not just the adults who gets hooked on the have-to-know-where-she-is-every-minute cell phone drug.

  40. I completely agree. I experienced the same thing with cell phones when they were introduced about 20 years ago (In Europe we were a few years ahead…).
    The idea that you should be able to reach a person at all times, made people panic everytime somone left their cell phnone in the car, turned it off, or went inside a 15th century building with 2 feet thick walls.

    Instead of tranquillizing the anxious, it gave new peaks of anxiety. (I remind myself of this every time my 17-year-old doesn’t pick up the phone and it’s after 11 p.m. and I don’t know where she is, and every time my almost 13-year-old is more than 30 minutes late on the subway)

  41. You could try fighting fear with fear and tell them their kids are going to die of cancer because of all the electromagnetic radiation their cell phones are emitting. While the risk of diabetes doesn’t seem to make parents nervous cancer still does.

    But I guess that’s not really the way I want to live either – I really like my cell phone 🙂

    I’m not into switching the capability off on my own phone. It could be very useful in some situations. I can see that a few parents could have special situations where tracking is a good idea. But generally I think I’ll give my kids the same choices over the tool that I have.

    If they trust me with the right to look when it’s a dire situation, I hope won’t abuse that trust my looking when I’m merely curious or worried. In part because I think Lenore’s main point is true – We make a rod to beat ourselves with when checking up becomes the norm.

    On the chipping kids thing – GPS on its own won’t let anyone track you. GPS units read signals broadcast by satellites and calculate their own position. They don’t *tell* anyone where they are. And there is no way for someone (even someone with access to those satellites) to work out who is using one or where.

    GPS technology mixed with the transmission capabilities of a phone is another matter. The phone can transmit the location that the GPS has calculated. But there’s no way to simply put a “GPS chip” in a kid and track them. Transmitting that data is an absolute requirement. Both the GPS and the transmission require power – it’s not like the chips that are put in pets that are passive and can only be read by local receptors (i.e. once the pet has been found).

  42. Uly, and pentamom

    “Where is the proof that GPS systems pay for themselves that frequently?” and the like.

    Who cares? My point is not that they are likely to be useful for emergencies, since they aren’t. It is just that the argument “we didn’t have them when we were kids and we were fine” has appeared in both threads.

    Cell phones and GPSs are now cheap enough that the convenience of having them for non-emergency purposes is well worth it. Given this, rejecting them because they could be used in an emergency is just silly.

  43. (crossposting to Parentdish)

    In regards to the salesman’s “set up a code phrase”…
    Right. This stranger who has abducted my child is going to let him/her ANSWER THE PHONE and risk the kid screaming “I’m being kidnapped”. Ummm…don’t think so. The FIRST thing the abductor would probably do is toss a cell phone out of the car. Why risk the kid dialing 911 or home or whatever? Maybe we need a little logic here.

    GPS usage: maybe if I had a parent or child who was an eloper, this would be a good thing. But, unless the cell phone is permanently attached to the person, you risk it being lost/left/no battery charge and then what good is it?

    I’d still rather teach my kids to be independent, responsible adults. Yeah, there is a risk they will be kidnapped. There is a risk I could be kidnapped. I refuse to go through life worrying about the small “what might happen” risks. I’d rather worry about the big ones: seat belts, fire safety, good driving habits, sensible drinking.

  44. There is clearly times when this technology is appropriate. My daughter had a gps attached to her as part of registration in ski school at a major resort last winter. 6 year olds can pick up speed fast and leave the group in the dust if they choose not to follow the rules. I can completely understand why the staff (who don’t know these kids) want to be able to locate them if necessary.

    I also approve of older kids who have cell phones of their own having GPS capacity, so they can use it exactly in the same way I do. IE to figure out where they are and plot a course to their destination or home again.

    But in general, I think we should treat our kids in the same way we’d want to be treated. If we don’t want to be spied upon, then we shouldn’t spy upon them. Anyways, there is almost always some way around the surveillance. Much better to give your child the tools to make good choices in the first place.

  45. The GPS could be used by the wrong people to keep tabs on where children are not seen any mention of that. Its really big brother (ish) being able to track where people are all the time. I wonder what the Government would do if they had access to that kind of information, the kids if implanted will grow up.

  46. delurking, I think the point is that the reason not to have something is that it’s just plain unnecessary. Even if it’s cheap, as long as you have the choice to get it, if it’s unnecessary, why bother?

    I think my and Uly’s point was emphasize the “unnecessary,” which is why we found the seatbelt analogy lacking. Yes, the “we survived when we were kids” argument is a silly one applied to seatbelts, but it isn’t when applied to GPS’ for general use, since unlike seatbelts, there’s no evidence they do anyone a darn bit of ACTUAL good.

  47. And by “GPS’s for general use” I mean the idea that all people and all kids should be “trackable,” not that there aren’t legitimate uses for some special needs kids, or that they’re not useful for finding your way around as distinct from constantly tracking or being tracked.

  48. “delurking, I think the point is that the reason not to have something is that it’s just plain unnecessary. Even if it’s cheap, as long as you have the choice to get it, if it’s unnecessary, why bother?”

    You may think it is unnecessary, but I think it is pretty convenient to have a cell phone and a GPS. I have plenty of evidence they do ACTUAL good, since I consider convenience to be good. I could live without it, but that is true of lots of things. Why should I? I am sure there are lots of things you spend money on that are unnecessary for your continued survival. Why bother?

  49. “Much better to give your child the tools to make good choices in the first place.”

    My point exactly. However, it seems people have somehow forgotten all these smarts. And anyway, it just makes no sense placing your trust on a gadget with a battery that keeps running low, or software that keeps failing or getting obsolete every six months. I can think about twenty different things that can be wrong when I can’t reach my husband on the phone, and not one of them includes a gruesome traffic accident or a gory assault. But I guess that when one of those GPS things fail to do its job, people will just call the police without pausing to think anything but the worst.
    Sad, isn’t it?

  50. The comments on parentdish are disheartening but it appears to be a vocal minority since the poll is heavily in favor of not doing it.

  51. Hm, so if someone wants to kidnap a child and get away with it, determine if the child has a GPS tracker. If they do, place that tracker on the back of some random truck that is going out of state, or a taxi, or some other wild goose chase that will keep the authorities distracted while they make their getaway.

  52. soooo many things bothered me about the parentdish comments…one the lady who used the book the lovely bones as an example (isnt that fiction?) . Also I couldnt help it I had to say that auto accidents is the leading killer of kids and if that parent is using thier cell phone to make sure thier kid is safe and almost (or does) hurt me and my family I will be coming after theier GPSing buns and takinge them down. On the plus side, apparently they think Lenore looks really young 🙂

  53. Scott, just like on The Da Vinci Code!!

  54. i personally do not have a phone. Other people tell me I NEED TO HAVE ONE. what if something happens to my kids at school, what if my car breaks down (which has happened) etc etc.

    Its not that I dont want a phone, I do. I even had a cheap one for ’emergencies’ except because there were ‘rarely’ ANY emergencies it often sat uncharged in the bottom of my handbag for days. Not very helpful hey?

    I cant afford a mobile phone (it is out of my budget) one that I would use daily etc, so i remember to charge it.

    And heres a story. My daughter fell at school (first time in 5 years i’ve been rung by the school) I wasnt at home. They rang my husband (on his mobile phone!) and he was working and couldnt go to her. HE hacked my facebook account (he doesnt have one) to ASK IF ANYONE KNEW WHERE I WAS….

    within 5 mins I was located! I was at a friends and her husband was on facebook and KNEW that I was at his house.(he was at work too)

    So you dont need GPS people… lol lol

  55. Unless your child required a hospital visit, I can’t imagine why the school called you at all.

    When the studies (which are now in their infancy) showing the links between cellular tech and brain cancer are longitudinal–i.e. prove that in the long-term, these little devices are toxic & potentially lethal–what will all the helicopter parents say?

    The only answers in this thread that make any sense are the ones arguing that we help our children equip themselves with *wisdom.* That’s an infallible skill whose batteries cannot run down, which cannot be thrown out a window or left at home.

  56. An interesting, scary note — to support his point the writer quoted Orwell’s 1984 (“Big Brother” society – the “utopia” society of run-away video surveillance.)

  57. My brother’s boat stopped in the middle of a lake and he used Facebook mobile to tell people he was put there out of gas.

    I have nothing against GPS itself. It has some perks.

    What gets me is people saying it’s necessary, that it will save kids’ lives, that it’s for stalking your own children.

    If you want it for your kid, get it, fine with me. But don’t let it parent!

  58. My only comment: Why should I trust someone who obviously can’t spell and use proper grammer?

  59. My only comment: Why should I trust someone who obviously can’t spell and use proper grammar?

  60. “Just like my commercial clients tell there drivers, If your not doing anything wrong theres nothing to worry about!”

    Oh, anyone who knows their history knows the evil that statements like that have led to! Be very, very afraid of that mindset!

  61. That would be the problem @bmj2k, History class has been cut from the school budget so the money can be used for video surveillance.

  62. I have little to add other then to say the other who checks out her kids location even her college age daughter reminds me of my abusive, controlling EX husband. I shutter to think of him having the ability to track me that way. It was bad enough that he came home and checked the cars milage every night and wanted to know where I had gone during the day and if the milage he saw and where I told him I was didn’t match in his mind I was accused of lying etc. This mother is abusing her children, in the name of their safety.

  63. I cant agree more with the trust vs surveillance argumnts. But for arguments with the implanting mom here is what i’d come up with :

    The GPS emits radiation (cell phone broadcast) whenever it sends its GPS signal, which is very often. A lot more often than normally a cell phone would. Radiation is known to cause cancer.

    There is 5% chance that the kid will get in some trouble, of which 0.00001% chance of it getting serious, of which 99.9 chance that the phone or GPS won’t be of any help. Perhaps if you change your attitude as parent, you’ll be better at solving the 5% of actual normal kid problems, and be educative rather than scared about that.

    A predator can break into your computer and watch the GPS together with you, or on his own through your account and password. If anything, a GPS will let the predator pinpoint the location of your kid in live broadcast using just a laptop with cellular modem.

    The sells guy urges you to buy the GPS, which must get you suspicious whether he IS the predator.

  64. See, my question is, if our kids aren’t safe going away from us on their own, why are we letting them go away from us on their own? Does having a gadget make up for their lack of maturity?

    When I was young, kids had to really earn the ability to go beyond an area where their parents could easily track them down (physically). To be able to drive around, they had to get and hold a job, save their money, and buy a car, among other things. If you had to do all of that to get behind the wheel of the car, chances are, your parent would not be worrying about what foolishness you might be up to as you drove around alone at 2am. At least, not to the point of wanting to GPS the teen.

    I’m all for encouraging independence, but it still has to be earned, and once it’s earned, it’s deserved.

    My kids are currently working on learning to swim. I won’t use any flotation devices because they just distort the reality of what the body is doing / can do. So it may be longer before I let my kids in the deep water without my hands on them, but at least their safety won’t depend on whether some device works the way I expect it to. I don’t believe they are being deprived by not “fake swimming” with floaties around their arms. And I don’t think kids need to be given cell phones and access to GPS-equipped vehicles before they are ready for the full responsibility of traveling alone. Being allowed to drive should be a mark of maturity.

  65. Why has noone yet mentioned the obvious: if a kid gets abducted (which these things are advertised to prevent…), first thing the perp will do is strip the kid so there’s no way to hide a cellphone, gps, or whatever.
    If he’s nice, he’ll give the kid some other clothes to wear instead and send the ones it came in to the parents with a ransom note.

  66. Ash — cell phones emit radio waves, not “radiation.” And I think it’s getting into paranoia to wonder whether the guy selling the systems is a predator himself. Nah, he’s just a guy trying to make a buck off a different kind of paranoia.

  67. pentamom – Technically radio waves *are* radiation (as is sunlight). But I think Ash is being facetious.

  68. Re: All the people who check the positions of their loved ones using cell phone or other GPS devices.

    You don’t know that they are safe without my NEW device, it is a small unobtrusive camera that streams live over the 3G network, and it also has a GPS that you can mount onto their cell phone, or backpack, or inside the car or even in any room of your house(patent pending) this way you not only know WHERE they are, but what they are doing. I call this the Extreme Paranoia Camera. Available soon!

  69. @Gary. If you get your camera to be implated somewhere into the kids’ bowel system, I’d buy it. Finally I’d be able to track their “every movement”.
    Come to think of it, now that we’re reaching mid-life, and who knows what kind of crisis my husband will go through, I think I might need one to check on him too.

  70. @helenquine True. As a geographer, I find most people mix up transponder and RFID chipping with GPS. GPS is a passive/receiver technology can be combined with wireless networks and active transponders to, e.g. track equipment or people with transponder badges within a large complex of buildings. It is really not the GPS doing the work, though, it just stores the base building maps. GPS is not as receptive as radio; it requires a line of sight to a sky with at least 4 satellites in good position, so it never works in buildings, unless there is a repeated or reflected signal, but reflected signals are inaccurate. So, really now, what kidnapper stays outside with their victim for long?

    RFID is what they use in wild animal tracking collars. This does not have much range, though, but requires little power. Watch No Country for Old Men to see a scary use of RFID/transponder tracking. The bad guy had to drive by all the likely hotels slowly until he heard the tell-tale clicking sound. I played with one of these receivers once in a class; they are not fun to use as you do have to wander around looking for your target and it is hard to tell “getting warm” from “getting cold”, and your target may be moving also.

  71. The guy sell the GPS for our kids wants us to consider fear. His argument rises and falls on how you answer the question “What community these days can be trusted?” He presents it as a retorical question but we don’t have to accept that. What community these days can be trusted? The one I live in with my grandson. Clinton Hill Brooklyn is not without problems but it is a safe community and we have good, caring neighbors. Neighborhoods are safe when neighbors get to know one another and look out for each other, My grandson know some on on every block surrounding our house. If he is in trouble he can knock on any door and someone will respond. There are no evil people seek to snatch our children from is. If at some point that happens it is the exception and not the rule. Exceptions do not justify GPSing our children. Do something that will improve the safety of your neighborhood. Say hello to the people you pass on the street. They might say hello back.

  72. helenquine — correction noted. Maybe (s)he was being facetious, but just in case not, it’s still not the kind of “radiation” that is “dangerous,” which is what he said. Granted there are concerns with cell phones (which don’t as yet seem to be well founded) but the use of the word “radiation” raises the specter of stuff like plutonium, not the stuff that lets you hear the radio and is present all through the atmosphere, all the time.

    But you’re right — light, even heat, is radiation. Scary! 😉

  73. It’d almost be impossible to disagree with you, Lenore. But I have thought about why we do this to pets — and I do think it’s a good thing for them–but not kids. BTW, saw in Mom magazine recently that you should not put your kid’s name on backpacks or the like for fear that strangers will call them by name.

  74. I have to pipe in on the car seat argument. Every time I hear “we were FINE without car seats” argument I always answer “But when we were kids, you didn’t have teenagers texting while driving Lincoln Navigators.”

    People are completely densensitized to the fact that driving an automobile is a significant responsibility that, when not taken seriously, is very dangerous for everybody out on the road. Additional safety measures against careless, reckless, and distracted drivers are completely necessary because 30 years ago people didn’t drive while eating breakfast, reading the paper, and talking on the phone.

    There has been no increase in lost children over the last 30 years, though, so why do we need to increase the precautions against losing them???? Just because we can? I’m not sold.

  75. rhodykat – I disagree with that we were fine without car seats. Deaths and serious injuries from traffic accidents have dropped just like crime has. This is despite a rise in the amount of traffic.

    Most of the drop is normally attributed to increases in car safety features (like seat belt and child seats) and enforcement of drink driving laws. In the last 10 years – i.e. the time frame that young people have merged with technology and become cyborgs, err, I mean during the rise of texting – traffic fatalities have dropped every year.

    US roads are safer now than they were in the 50s.

    The difference between stranger abductions and traffic accidents (now, and when we were kids) is that stranger abductions don’t kill tens of thousands or injure millions.

    It’s really about a proportionate response and putting resources where they are actually useful.

  76. Cheaper solutions to GPS

    1. Teach kids not to go off with strangers.

    2. Teach kids where they can and can’t go without your permission.

    3. Teach kids there are consequences for their actions that can’t always be waived.

    4. If you are part of those consequences, follow through!

    5. Teach kids appropriate behavior!

    6. Teach them common sense.

    Granted, these have little effect on whackos who hide everywhere to grab people, but in safer daily life these should prevent many problems.

  77. tommynomad,
    Our nurse calls parents if a kid falls hard enough to be stunned, get the wind knocked out of them, or any type of head blow.

    Reason Kid goes home and says I fell so hard I couldn’t breath. It is after 4 – so no-one at school. Overnight they work up a head of steam and at 7:00 am they are at the school door sometimes with a news crew ready to rip someone’s head off.

    So she calls and send home a note saying X happened child is ok. No drama the next morning.

  78. Down the street from my work is a sign that reads

    “Your kids know where the party is, do you know where your kids are”.

    Gives me a quesy feeling everytime I drive by it – no way am I ever stopping into a place like that to purchase their bundle of fear.

    All I can say is these people turn off as many customers as they entice….their loss.

  79. “But when we were kids, you didn’t have teenagers texting while driving Lincoln Navigators”

    No, we just had them driving camaros while high on pot.

    I’m fine with the introudction of car seats to enhance safety, but I do think they take it a little too far with the 8 years old OR 4′ 9′ thing or whatever it is. I’m a short woman. Pretty soon, the way these laws are going, I’m going to be required to be in a booster seat. And I so put my kids in a backless booster the SECOND it was legal because it was so much less of a hassel to move those things from car to car, for them to get themselves buckled in and out quickly, etc.

  80. We were never GPSed (is that a word lol). But Mum and Dad pretty much knew where we were anyway because we had a great relationship and I was happy to tell them where I would be. My children are young yet but this is what I hope to achieve: a wonderful relationship full of trust, love and freedom. As a threesome, it can work I think. I’ll have to blog about it in 5-6 year or so.

  81. @Rachel Federman: If a kid gets lost, they can tell someone “I’m lost” and get help. (Unless she’s a baby, but if anyone saw a baby by herself for too long it would be obvious that something was wrong.) If a cat (or dog) gets lost, who would know? The cat can’t talk, and to bystanders the cat looks like a stray or a neighborhood cat.

  82. Thought you might enjoy this video, I just think it’s hilarious and on topic re: children and GPS…http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7246329/?ref=nf

  83. A valid question is whether there *is* a good reason for GPS. Suppose that a like-minded fellow Free-Ranger told you that he and his wife and child had all gotten inexpensive GPS implants — a one-time, not-too-painful procedure that cost a total of less than 500 bucks — and forgot about it.

    Furthermore (he might say), they resisted the saleswoman’s efforts to sell them the expensive software and equipment that go with it: nope, just the devices and their IDs to keep record of, somewhere.

    No intention of tracking down the kid at a party in later years, no intention of helicopter-parenting, everyone just has ’em and that’s it. (Parents, too.)

    Now, in case there’s a skiing accident or a blizzard or a *real* case in which there *really* is *real* danger, there will be an easy, no-nonsense, straightforward way to locate any of these people.

    If someone told me they had done that, I might very well say, “Wow — that’s actually really smart.”

    Again and again, the individual’s attitude and approach are far more important here than the mere use of a tool which, like all tools, can be useful or misused.


  84. By working friend-of-friend networks, we found my 10-yr old son who had run away from Chicago to Philadelphia. He was planning to head for the mountains north of Philly and live like Sam in Jean Craighead George’s 1959 book, My Side of the Mountain. We knew where he was going because we knew what was missing in the house (backpack, camping equipment, etc.) and we knew what he’d been talking about lately. He’s 42 now, and has the same awareness about what his daughters like, and where they are. No GPS needed.

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