Parents Now Use Cell Phones to Geolocalize Their Children

By August 27, 2008

Approximately 2,000 children are reported missing daily, according to the FBI. Cell phone companies hope that they can help decrease this number by using their phones’ GPS as child finders. A cell phone's GPS can be used to find a child who is lost, or monitor where a child goes when away from home.  Companies specializing in children's phones, including Kajeet, Wherify Wheriphone, and Disney all offer this service. Several of the large carriers also offer child location, as well as other services designed to keep an eye on your kids. In addition to GPS locating, Sprint Family Locator offers Family Watchdog Mobile in conjunction with the Family Watchdog Web Site, texting parents when a sex offender moves into the neighborhood.

Verizon Wireless' Chaperone 2.0 allows parents to monitor their children’s whereabouts; the service can also send text messages to parents if children leave the boundaries of a prescribed safe zone.

These GPS systems can also be used for elderly parents, those suffering from Alzheimer’s, for example.

There are a few problems using GPS as child finders. When phones are turned off the GPS can’t be read, and when they are in obstructed areas like basements or windowless rooms, their signal must be triangulated from cell phone towers, making the reading much less accurate.

Cell phones are not recommended for younger children; instead, small GPS devices which can be easily and firmly attached to the child should be used.

Or they can be in the clothes themselves. British clothing manufacturer Bladerunner – who also released the first Kevlar school uniform – has come out with a GPS jacket for children, which can send updates of your child’s location via email or text messaging

For parents concerned about their teenage drivers, companies such as Track My Kids sell vehicle tracking systems (VTS). The system ($299 + monthly service charge) monitors a car’s location and its speed. Parents can receive text messages or emails when their teen drivers break the speed limit.

GPS child tracking is also being deployed by government agencies. A pilot program in Texas has recently begun using GPS to deter truancy.

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