It's 10 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?
From the instant our kids are born, we worry about their wellbeing any time they're out of our sight. And as the infant and preschool years give way to the pre-teen and high school years, our worries shift from fears of child abduction to concerns about what sort of trouble our kids may be getting into on their own.
So what if you could find out precisely where your children are at any given moment? Global positioning system technology -- the same GPS we rely on to help us navigate from place to place -- is now available in tracking devices that can hook on to a stroller, wrist, backpack or bumper, sometimes without the child's knowledge.
While the technology itself is nothing new (GPS has been used by the military since the late 1970s and by civilians since 2000), a steady decrease in both the size and the price of GPS trackers has increased their potential for everyday use. It's difficult to say exactly how many parents are keeping an electronic eye on their kids, but judging by the sheer number of GPS tracking products targeted to parents -- iPhone and Android apps, vehicle tracking systems and clip-on devices of every shape and size -- it appears that there's no shortage of demand for gadgets to help us track our children's comings and goings.
Prices range from as low as $50 plus monthly or per-use service fees for a simple device that transmits a location signal upon request to upwards of $900 plus monthly service fees for a sophisticated "covert" tracking kit designed to be concealed in a teenager's car, where it will record and transmit location and speed in real time, with accuracy of up to 8 inches and one quarter mile per hour, respectively.
But just because you can track your kids, does that mean you should? What are the legal and ethical ramifications of spying on your children? We've come up with five possible scenarios in which you might be tempted to use a GPS tracker for your kids. Would you do it? Read on and decide.