Tracking your kids like a fed ex package
My good friend Kelly posted an interesting piece about using technology to essentially track your kids like you track your lost fed ex package. Kelly isn't advocating these devices, just describing them. Now, I worry about my kids as much as the next parent, but I really do NOT like the idea of feeling like a key to safety would be to track my kids with a gps device 24-7. Though I do admit, the thought of being able to follow my kids running around the neighborhood with a Marauder's Map type of machine would be sort of cool.
From the Gotomobile blog, which she aptly names "stalking witha smile:: :
Would you want to track the whereabouts of your kids or significant other using a mobile tracking system tied to your loved one’s personal device? As a concerned parent trying to give your offspring a bit of freedom from constant calls, finding out if your child arrived at school safely, or if she was hanging out at a friend’s home for the night using GPS tracking might bring you the peace-of-mind you’ve been looking for. Services such as Sprint Family Locator and Disney Mobile’s Family Locator allow for visual tracking of your family’s digital devices – using GPS technology to pinpoint location with amazing accuracy unless you’re inside of a mall or a concrete parking lot. Disney states ‘accuracy within 10 yards’ which is pretty incredible.
The location-based service Cat TRAX operated by CATS (Child Alert Tracking Service) takes proximity to another level by tracking the known whereabouts of known sex offenders and alerts you if your child is within range of an offender’s home. The service allows you to ‘Monitor your children on their way to and from school, running errands, and at play.’ According to their stats, nearly every 40 seconds, a child is reported missing. But operating on a worst case, fear basis seems a bit extreme – however recently a friend in Seattle did receive a call from local authorities after they found her 9-year old daughter profiled in their neighbor ‘Dave’s’ home. Freaky..
I think what bugs me most about this is the misuse of statistics to get people to feel that they HAVE to buy this new technology. The message is - how could a good parent not want to track their kids constantly. However, in reality there are currently only 600 stranger abductions per year in the entire United States.
Here's an excerpt that serves as a counter-balance to the marketing by this technolgy tracking companies, by James Alan Fox from Northeastern University. It was published a few years ago in the Boston Globe. Find the whole editorial here.
Amidst the tremendous media hype and widespread public hysteria, some sober perspective on the scope of the child abduction problem is surely needed. The most reliable and trustworthy estimates of children abductions are in the hundreds, not hundred-thousands. Child Find, for example, estimates that after removing parent abductions in custody battles (the most common form) as well as attempted kidnappings, fewer than 600 children are abducted by strangers each year. Most of these youngsters are eventually found alive. The less fortunate victims slain by their abductors number about 50 per year.
The thought of your child being kidnapped, raped, and murdered may be horrible, but in statistical terms it is hardly one of the greatest perils that children face on a daily basis - even if and when a serial predator is operating in the neighborhood. Consider these facts:
A child is more likely to be killed in a fall off a bicycle than by being grabbed off the bike by a rapist/murderer. Still, parents are more apt to keep their children at home in ''protective custody'' than to enforce the use of the helmets.
More children are killed each year by playing with their parents' loaded gun. Yet, parents are more apt these days to lock up their children for safekeeping than their firearms.