Phone companies release cute tracking devices for kids

July 15, 2014

Technology is getting better and better at helping parents keep tabs on their kids. From Brad Flickinger.

Here it is at last: Wearable technology that allows parents to track their young children from afar as they move through their day. LG Electronics and SK Telecom, both of South Korea, and KMS, of Britain, have all developed similar wristband products that act as part cell phone part GPS—though LG’s is arguably the cutest.

As these products roll into the market—and parents begin to understand what they can do—there are bound to be emotional reactions. Four perspectives on this kind of technology immediately spring to mind.

1. It’s expected.

It should come as no surprise that techies have figured out how to put this technology together and package it so it’s palatable to consumers. By now, we’re comfortable with GPS and Wi-Fi technology. We know we can be tracked when we travel, and for the most part, we’re OK with it. As this article explains, LG’s wristbands employ both of these familiar technologies to allow parents to track their kids.

2. It’s not such a bad idea.

Who doesn’t want their child to be safe? The KMS wristband alerts parents when kids leave a designated area. It also contains information about the child’s allergies and blood type in case of an emergency.

Convenience is another positive factor. Ever try to send a kid off to camp with his or her own phone for calls home? Up to now, that’s meant either stuffing the phone in the child’s pocket or packing it inside a backpack or lunch bag. In either case, you must accept that the phone will likely disappear through loss or theft. The wristband changes that important piece. Unless the child goes swimming, it will remain securely on his or her body.

3. It’s disturbing on so many levels.

This technology feeds on fear. Only in a world where you can trust no one do parents need to equip their children with tracking devices and panic buttons. Ironically, the technology also encourages hands-off parenting. After all, why watch the kids in real life when you can spy on them in real time?

The message this technology sends about privacy is no less alarming. Accepting it means accepting loss of personal privacy. Young children may not have much to lose. But imagine a similar wristband worn by the teenager with a jealous boyfriend, for example.

4. If it catches on, it’ll catch on big-time.

Before cell phones, we all left home without our phones. In today’s world, that feels unsafe. That’s arguably due to the fact that cell phones exist rather than any real rise in crimes and emergencies. The same could happen with wearable tracking devices. It’s hard to imagine parents opting out if all the other kids are wearing them—and enjoying their various protections.

Will we soon live in a world where it feels dangerous to leave home without our wearable tracking devices?

If so, it will be a world of our own creation. And it seems like a sad place to be.

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Category: Neighborhood Watch, Technology

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