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Tracking Your Kids

posted by Suzanne Kantra on March 21, 2012 in Family and Parenting, Baby & Toddler, Kids, Guides & Reviews :: 13 comments

Technology makes it possible to keep tabs on our kids in a way our parents couldn’t. We can put GPS trackers on them and in the vehicles they drive, get text messages automatically when they return home from school, get an audible alert when a toddler strays, and soon, even updates on whether or not they’ve brushed their teeth.

Each act of tracking has its health and/or safety benefits and it’s easy to see why parents would want to use these helpful products. Their use, though, raises questions. Are we using technology in instances when we should be parenting? And, are we raising a generation whose expectation of privacy that’s very different from ours?

Each family needs to assess their kids and their situation and then weigh the benefits of tracking technology against the invasion of privacy.

For instance, I wouldn’t argue against using a proximity sensor that would alert me to when my toddler wanders more than 150 feet away. I’ve had a few heart-stopping moments when I realized I was watching the wrong blue jacket. But I also worry that using an alarm regularly might make me less vigilant, so I’d probably only use it in crowded places, like Disneyland.

The bottom line is that technology is a tool that when used wisely can help. Check out the following devices and tell us which ones make sense and which have taken things a step too far.

 

Toddler TagToddler Tag

Clip the Toddler Tag Child Locator to your child’s clothing or bag, and a 56dB alarm will sound if he wanders more than 30 feet from the parental locator unit. Or press a button at any time to trigger the alarm, if you lose sight of him.
Price: $39.95 on BrickhouseSecurity.com

 

GreenGoose Toothbrush TrackerGreenGoose Toothbrush Tracker

No more breath tests—sensors inside the Toothbrush Tracker register when your child has brushed her teeth. The device, which attaches to any toothbrush, sends a signal back to a receiver, called the GreenGoose Egg, which connects to your home’s Wi-Fi router. The Egg then sends a notification to the app you download to your iPhone (Android coming later this year).

Later this year, you’ll also be able to purchase a kit to track how well you’re taking care of your pet. Inside you’ll find the Egg, a leash sensor to track when and how long you walk the dog, a collar sensor to measure when you play with him, a food sensor to note when you feed him and a treat sensor.
Price: $49 for the starter kit, $9 for additional sensors on GreenGoose.com

 

Schlage LiNK Wireless Keypad Deadbolt Starter KitSchlage LiNK Wireless Keypad Deadbolt Starter Kit

With the Schlage LiNK Internet-enabled door lock, you can receive a text message alert each time your latch-key kid uses her unlock code, letting you know she arrived safely home. Or, if you prefer she use a physical key, you can use any computer, iPhone or Android phone to remotely unlock the door. If you cancel your subscription, the codes will continue to work and you can program new ones manually using the door lock.
Price: $213.17 on Amazon.com plus $8.99 per month subscription

 

Cellphone Tracking Services

When you give your child a cellphone, you can track their location—or at least the location of the phone. For $5 per month, Sprint will let you locate up to four phones with its Family Locator service. AT&T’s Family Map service locates two people for $9.99 per month or five people for $14.99. With the Verizon Family Locator ($9.99 per month), you can set up location-based alerts so you know when your child gets home, in addition to locating anyone on your Family Share plan. And, T-Mobile just added its FamilyWhere service, which enables you to track up to 10 mobile devices.

 

TiwiTiwi

You can’t always be in the car with your new teen driver, so Tiwi does the monitoring—and nagging—for you. It monitors speed, whether your child is wearing a seatbelt, how aggressively he’s driving and whether he’s traveled outside his designated SmartZone. Any concerns and the device will tell your teen and send you a text message, voicemail or email. The device and plans are pricey, with a month-to-month contract costing $24.99 per month plus $599 for the hardware and a one-year contract costing $54.99 per month plus $299 for the hardware. For an extra fee, you can add voice service ($2.99 per month plus $0.15 per minute) or roadside assistance and emergency support ($9.99 per month), which includes voice service.

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Free Cell Phone Tracking

From Craig on March 22, 2012 :: 11:06 am

If you install Lookout’s free app on an Android or iPhone, you can use their site to find the phone for free.  https://www.mylookout.com/features

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mostly a good idea

From Melissa on March 22, 2012 :: 11:30 am

My boys were raised at a time when we didn’t have so much to worry about. If I had kids nowadays, I would definitely use some of this technology. Bad things can happen no matter how careful you are, but why not hedge your bets? Except for the toothbrush thing…that “problem” just needs real hands-on parenting.

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Yes to Toddler Tag!

From Barbara on March 22, 2012 :: 11:30 am

I would have DEFINATELY used the Toddler Tag with my ADHD toddler. He was also a wanderer.

My kids weren’t latchkey kids so it’s hard to comment on that one - maybe.

The cell phone tracker - maybe - depending on where you live and where you child goes. Or if you have a problem child.

I think the driving one, Tiwi, should be something mandatory and rentable for all new teen drivers for a certain period of time - or progress. Then removed.

The toothbrush one and the pet one - nonsense.

I think parents are always wise to use whatever tools are at their disposal that suit their situation. Also think some parents can be paranoid and use them ALL which could cause their teens to never believe in trust.

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Mixed Feelings

From Nancy on March 22, 2012 :: 3:25 pm

I would definitely use the toddler tag with anyone who wanders off (like my mother).  Maybe use the perimeter fence also with a wandering Alzheimer/Dementia person.  Have already used the cell phone locator with my mother.  It was helpful..

Would not use the tooth brush with my child as I think the interaction of checking is a particularly intimate one and those are moments that are special when they are young.

My dog - if I forgot or needed reminding this much… or if I payed somebody else and wanted to check up on them.  However if I can’t remember maybe I shouldn’t have a dog.

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kid tracking

From Ruth Rosene on March 23, 2012 :: 3:26 pm

I use the Find Friends app on my 11 year old daughter’s iphone.  I can track her as she’s walking thru the neighborhood, at friends or the park.  I also used it to track her when she went to an amusement park with some of her friends (and 2 parents) for a birthday party.  Even though I knew she was safe with them, I liked being able to see when they left the park and were on their way home without bugging her incessantly with my emails “where are you now?”

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Tracking

From Mike on March 23, 2012 :: 8:37 pm

I swore, if I ever had kids, I was going to surgically implant a lo-jack…

The phone tracking services scare me. If you can track your kids over a public network, so can someone else.

The car device is interesting. This device could either help you or sink you in an accident. It would either prove you were driving/stopping/etc correctly or prove you weren’t. A lot of this data is recorded in your engine control unit, (ECU, read the ‘terms of service’ on your new car. You have to allow the manuf. to access the data on your ECU. There have several government agencies that claim to be able to access your ECU without a warrant.)

I lived through my teens, on two continents, without killing myself. (Driving on the right and left side of the road and ‘‘back to curb’ parking.) You would have to balance the trust issue with the safety issue.

I wonder how long it will take kids to defeat this device?

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I would definitely want to

From Ron Ablang on March 24, 2012 :: 10:48 am

I would definitely want to use a GPS tracker on my baby, toddler, or child in the case of lost or potential abduction.

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Safety first...

From Danita King on March 25, 2012 :: 3:33 am

In this day & age where abductions are all to common, I have every intention of getting the toddler tag for my son. When he reaches the age that I will allow him a cellphone, I will also use the tracking device on that. I do not feel that is over stepping the bounds.

I think I would also look into the door locks, as I will be a working single parent, knowing he made it home safe or for that matter no one is messing with my home, would be a huge relief to me.

Now the Tiwi device should be used on anybody with a driver’s license. I know teens can be hard to keep an eye on, but they are not the only erratic drivers out there. Maybe it could help others as well.

As for the green egg….. somebody has way too much time on their hands and are just plan lazy. This is taking technology to a place it should never have gone. If you do not have the time, heck, the love for your child(or dog even) to make sure he or she brushed their teeth, you should not have a child. I do not care how hard you work or how many things you have to do, five minutes to check on your child is not too much to ask.

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These devices are crutches and

From ElGorcho on April 08, 2012 :: 5:44 pm

These devices are crutches and if you’re a good parent you won’t need them. Also parents, the world really isn’t that much more dangerous today than it was before. You’re just old and paranoid now, much like your parents were before except they didn’t have all these intrusive and high tech gizmos straight out of 1984.

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Invasion of privacy

From Aurillea Sari on January 16, 2013 :: 11:41 pm

After reading all of these comments, I feel like a younger opinion is needed. Younger as in sixteen. I just happened to wander onto this site and to be honest, these things scare me. It’s like having someone constantly following you around and watching everything you do. Mistakes are meant to happen, it is how we can grow to become more responsible and, to be honest, mature. Monitering what we do all of the time doesn’t allow these mistakes to happen. I am not saying though that having your kid abducted is in any way a good thing, just take things in moderation. Everyone deserves their privacy. But this is only a teenagers opinion, how a younger child would feel, I cannot accuratley say as I am no longer at that point in life. So do what you like, just please remember if you do decide to use some of these things, that we like our privacy just as much as you do.

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Irony

From Seth on June 23, 2013 :: 2:23 am

Isn’t it always adults who scream about how their privacy is violated, but then their perfectly fine with strapping tracking devices all over their kids. Privacy and trust is a two way street guys.

Full Disclosure: I’m 21

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Proper Uses

From HaFFi on January 27, 2014 :: 8:34 pm

I feel that this is a great product to track small children in large areas (i.e. parks, birthday parties, carnivals, etc.)  When there are so many people around and your kids are playing, it is impossible to keep a constant eye on them.  Even in establishments like Chuck E. Cheese or Bounce House (commericial buildings), it can be scary to lose site of your kid for longer than it takes to walk around the place twice.  Using safe perimeter sensing, you can be alerted immediately if your child leaves or is taken from a designated area.

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Track your kids android phone without using Internet

From Jence on February 17, 2014 :: 1:51 am

You should try an android app called “Ghostrack”. Is free and simple even easy to operate. Doesn’t require Internet connection on the tracking end. Ghostrack consists of useful features. So try it for once. Its available on google play

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