The day a teenager starts driving may well be the most terrifying day of a parent's life. You've survived the driving lessons, you've talked until you're blue in the face about the dangers of speeding and driving recklessly, and you've laid down the ground rules about where your teen may go, and when. But once they pull out of the driveway on their own, all you can do is hope that they've listened. For some parents, a GPS tracker offers a way to maintain a bit of control -- or the illusion of control -- over a scary situation.
Legally, you're probably entitled to track your teen, with or without her knowledge, and U.S. courts have consistently upheld a parent's right to exercise broad control over minor children. But just because it's legal doesn't mean it's a good idea, and your teen may very well view the surveillance as an intrusion on his or her privacy and a breach of trust.
Ethical issues aside, it's unclear how successful GPS devices are at tracking teens or preventing dangerous behavior. GPS trackers that record both driving speed and location could potentially deter young drivers from taking risks behind the wheel, but it's also entirely possible for your teen to drive 35 miles per hour to the library, where he'll park his "bugged" car and hop into a different vehicle with friends.
Parents may find GPS trackers to be useful as part of a probationary period as they reestablish trust in teens who have habitually been truant or otherwise disobedient, but in the end, an electronic device is no substitute for honesty on both sides of the relationship.
More Great Links
- BrickHouse Security. "Livewire FastTrac Covert GPS 120-Day Kit." (Feb. 18, 2012) http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/realtime-gpstracking-device.html
- Davidson, Andy. "Family spies." Brand Strategy. Issue 195. Page 8. Sept. 2005. (Feb. 20, 2012) [accessed through MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost] http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=867b92cc-14b6-4b57-bcf1-0e9ee1ff1b2c%40sessionmgr13&vid=2&hid=5
- GPS Magazine. "The Ultimate Child-Tracker Buying Guide." April 6, 2010. (Feb. 18, 2012) http://www.gpsmagazine.com/2010/04/gpsmagazines_2010_child_tracki.php
- Moon, Brad. "Would You Track Your Kid by GPS?" Wired.com. Jan. 11, 2010. (Feb. 18, 2012) http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2010/01/would-you-track-your-kid-by-gps/
- National Academy of Sciences. "The Global Positioning System: The Role of Atomic Clocks." (Feb. 18, 2012) http://www.beyonddiscovery.org/content/view.page.asp?I=1275
- National Autism Association. "Tracking Technology." (Feb. 18, 2012) http://www.awaare.org/trackingtechnology.htm
- The Nemours Foundation. "Preventing Abductions." (Feb. 18, 2012) http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/outdoor/abductions.html
- Roberts, Stephen N. "Tracking Your Children With GPS: Do You Have the Right?" Findlaw.com. (Feb. 18, 2012) http://library.findlaw.com/2003/Dec/1/133470.html
- Shmukler, Chad. "How to Track/Find Your Child's iPhone Using GPS." iPhoneFAQ.org. June 13, 2010. (Feb. 18, 2012) http://www.iphonefaq.org/archives/97949
- Smith, Tovia. "Technology Lets Parents Track Kids' Every Move." NPR.org. Aug. 29, 2006. (Feb. 18, 2012) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5725196
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