Would You Track Your Kid by GPS?
Maybe you'll gain a bit of personal safety, but there are drawbacks too.
Jan. 12, 2009— -- Question: if you had the ability to track your child's every movement during the day, would you do so? Or is this an example of helicopter parenting taken to extremes? How about tucking a portable GPS unit in her backpack?
Partaking in my Saturday morning ritual of coffee accompanied by a laptop to scan through the daily newspapers, I came across a Toronto Star article by reporter Robert Cribb, who has been testing the Entourage PS, a portable device offered by a Canadian company called Blackline GPS. (Wired reviewed an earlier version of this technology by the same company in 2008.)
The twist on this one is that Robert used the GPS to track his 5-year-old daughter during her walk to school, slipping the GPS into her backpack, then monitoring it remotely (on his computer screen or Blackberry).
The father in me definitely sees the appeal of this capability — it's very similar to the initial wave of comfort I felt with the concept of being able to log on and watch the goings on at the daycare on webcam.
And like the webcam, the initial "that's an awesome idea!" phase wore off a bit the more I thought about it, replaced with the feeling that maybe these things are going just a little too far.
In theory, tracking by GPS is a great parental advantage, but what happens if your kid ducks round a corner to look at something? Maybe it violates the instructions of coming straight home, but kids will be kids.
You wouldn't know any better under normal circumstances. However, as a red blip on a screen that suddenly deviates from course, do you freeze and stare at it, leap out of a meeting to drive screaming across town to the rescue, or call 9-1-1 in case it's a potential abduction?
What if their backpack is swiped or picked up accidentally at school? These things happen and the mix-up could end with police chasing some innocent parent driving their kid home with the wrong backpack.
It's costly, too: You'd have to fork out CN$350 for the GPS unit itself, plus $15 a month for a service subscription.
ABC News Live
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events