much weekly I hear from some company that wants to solve a problem that does not exist: How to keep tabs on your children every second of every day, in order to keep them “safe.” Here’s the latest, from a company called FamilySignal:
much weekly I hear from some company that wants to solve a problem that does not exist: How to keep tabs on your children every second of every day, in order to keep them “safe.” Here’s the latest, from a company called FamilySignal:
Why does this strike me as a corrosive idea? Because products like these are teaching our kids that they are never safe unless they are supervised — in person or electronically — by their parents. And they are teaching parents that letting their kids have any unsupervised time is something good Â parents don’t do.
Meantime, gradually a whole generation is getting used to being under constant surveillance, to the point where someday soon it may feel “weird” (or worse, become illegal) to venture out in the world, untracked and unobserved.
I was just having this conversation about this yesterday with a tech-savvy woman who told me she Â WISHED there’d been this kind of thing when her kids were going to high school via subway even though:
1 Â – They obviously made it just fine. (They’re grown now.)
2 – What would this have enabled her to do if her kids WERE in trouble? Apparate herself to the spot and nuke the bad guys?
And, as for “peace of mind”:
3 – When the “ETA” is “3:05” and a kid has not checked in by 3:10, it’s a license to freak out. Meaning that any spontaneity — the kid stopping to talk to a friend, pet a dog, or get a candy bar — is taboo, unless a kid wants to give his mom a heart attack.
Even in the FamilySignal video abaove, the mom has to close her laptop, grab her coffee and run to pick up the immobilized child who electronically demands she come fetch him immediately. This is something we want? Â (And besides, come to think of it, how is it any different from texting?)
Remember, this kind of device originally used to track FELONS under HOUSE ARREST.
Childhood is not a crime. Down time is not dangerous. In fact, it’s the fertile soil where creativity takes root.Â Do you wish you’d grown up with your mom tracking your every move? If not, don’t do it to your own kid. – L.
Your photo caption on the bathroom only made me think of yesterday’s tale of toilet lid accidents. Who knows what could happen if a son isn’t there to make sure a toilet lid doesn’t slam down on him?
And come on, why give your parents a simple text or phone call when you need a bit of assistance when you can just hope they’re tracking your every move? Kids can’t be taking matters into their own hands, now!
Looking at this smug blonde lady with all her Apple products I wanted to punch her in the face. Hard.
“Look at me,” she seems to be saying. “I’ve got a briefcase and a black dress suitable for my high-profile job as well as making visits to twee little hipster coffee shops! I’m a GOOD mom! You can be a good mom, too, if you purchase this child surveilance device!”
I like to know where my almost 14 year old daughter is. During the day I can look at her school schedule. However like yesterday they did not spend the day in her history classroom because of school elections. I do give her flexibility on activity bus days to come home early 3:30 or late 5 pm. She has already signed up for tennis on Tuesday and wants to audition for an additional choral group on Wednesdays. Yes, she carries a cell phone but I do not need to know her exact location just her destination.
All that app needs is a “kill” button that allows you to put a family member out of his/her misery in case of an alien invasion.
shdd, can’t you just talk to your daughter and ask her about plans? If she’s responsible enough for these activities, certainly you can talk and keep each other aware.
I’m more concerned with an app that helps homework get done rather than worry about my kids getting home. They do fine, they know how to get home all is good.
Nope. Nope. All of the nopes.
While I like to know where my kids are, I don’t NEED to know where they are at all times, and they don’t NEED me to know where they are at all times.
My parents didn’t know exactly where I was when I was a teen — they had a general idea, usually it was “out with friends” or “at practice.” I had earned enough trust for them not to have to doubt that I wasn’t doing anything dangerous or criminal. They told me when I had to be home (and I was). By then had equipped me with the tools to be able to take care of myself and know where and how to get help if I needed it. It was freeing for me and taught me responsibility, and I suspect it was freeing for them, too, and made them less anxious and happier parents as they had no expectation of knowing where I was and they knew I wasn’t handicapped, which apparently these teens are to need this level of constant supervision.
Nope. Nope. Nope.
One aspect of all of this is that free range kids are not wild and undisciplined. In order for it to work children need to be reliable. If dinner is at 7 then have to be back at 7. They have to understand the discipline of being aware of the needs of others. Check on the kid who can’t ride his bike so fast.
They have to understand the limits of free range, and not trespass physically or mentally. These kids are disciplined for life.
Anyone else notice that she didn’t seem to get a bit of work done, what with constantly checking her phone and her watch? Everytime she started to do something, her kids interrupted.
Hmm. I don’t don’t need fancy technology for that to be my reality!
I have vowed never to track my kids. I’ve never used the lookup phone feature on our Iphone and I won’t, unless there is an emergency. If a parents foster a culture of mistrust, then certainly the kids will find ways to be mistrusted.
Years ago, a verbally abusive parent might say something like, “You’ll never amount to anything,” or “I can’t ever trust you to do….” Now all they have to do is prove their thoughts by using this type of product.
Meanwhile, what’s great for “anxious parents” is a new level of hell for victims in abusive relationships.
This honestly made my stomach turn. How horrendous to be under such constant supervision. And honestly, who has that much damn time? I barely check my texts (I’m busy at work, you know, working), let alone trying to map where my family is.
The other thing that came to mind is how easily these types of apps seem to be hacked. Even celebrities, who you think would have all kinds of security, get pictures and stuff stolen from their phones and the cloud and whatever else. Couldn’t someone on an open wifi network leave themselves vulnerable to have all this data picked up by someone else?
I agree with Jill too. Obviously if you can’t afford to pay a small fee a month to constantly track your family’s whereabouts, you don’t love them.
Plus, it’s just creepy.
And mommy sure didn’t seem to get any work done ( note she was too busy spying on her kids to even turn on her laptop) or even the chance to enjoy her coffee.
How Orwellian of this company. Sure I want my child to be safe, but I am hoping I can teach him how to be safe without relying on technology that could you know, crash or go haywire or fail.
The question here should be, if God forbid something bad does take place, then what? Criminals are not always stupid, they will chuck that phone out into a meadow and then where will all your hip as hell technology get you? I wonder at people who need to monitor their youngsters ALL THE TIME. No matter what any of us do, we may or may not end up with a child who has a nasty, selfish attitude, a drug problem, a football scholarship, be a star student or even, gasp, a responsible and loving person. Seriously, are we this close to chipping the children? Amazing how easy it is to prey on fears in this world and dammit, teach your kid to call or text, as a parent this commercial makes it seem all we ever do is monitor our kids!
The company also sells “beacons” that you could put in your kid’s car or whatever and it will alert you whenever your teenager is in his or her car. I guess parental surveillance is one industry that thriving in this lousy economy.
Mom: OMG! the tracking device says Little Johnny went to the bathroom and never came out!
Little Johnny: about time I flushed that damn thing down the toilet…
I see this as a useful app for single folks, not young people. Who needs to track their children this much!? Other comments are right-it is an implication that you cannot be trusted, and that the world should be terrifying and dangerous. At the same time, I remember being in college, living in a single dorm, and being in the library at 3 am. While there probably wasn’t a significant risk, I still called someone (Dad, sister, friend, etc.) to say, “I’m walking for 45 minutes alone on icy streets. I’ll call again when I’m home.” My biggest fear was slipping on ice and getting hurt. In this context, an app that doesn’t intrude on anyone’s life (those 2 am phone calls were not welcome), but would allow me to contact someone in case of emergency (not 911 emergency, but an, “I broke my ankle and need a ride to the ER,” emergency ) would be helpful. It would be easier to have a,”help me, this is where I am,” button than trying to call people from my digital address book. So, for kids, no; for young adults, maybe, depending on how it is used.
One thing that has to noted is that parental surveillance and helicoptering over children has increased at the same time that the government’s surveillance and helicoptering over adults has increased. They seem to go together.
“Meanwhile, whatâ€™s great for â€œanxious parentsâ€ is a new level of hell for victims in abusive relationships.”
Yesterday my 9 yo daughter biked to school as usual, but the forecast called for rain and the rest of her gang decided to get car rides. She biked alone, no phone or gps.
I was driving home from work the same time as her school dismissal. It thundered and the skies opened up unleashing a pretty bad storm. I have a healthy respect for the danger of thunderstorms so I drove towards the school, hoping I could intercept her as the weather turned bad.
But the storm passed quickly and I got stuck in traffic. I waited…and waited at home for her but she was late. We’ve had talks about what the real dangers are on her commute (moving cars, loose dogs, thunderstorms) so I guessed she waited out the storm, similar to waiting out thunder at the pool and staying out of the water.
After the storm passed, she biked home with a new friend. Her friend was waiting for her brother who showed up at the bikes without his helmet. They were late because they made the brother go back to his classroom and get his bike helmet.
Yes, safety is good! Kids can and do think safety all the time, much better than us paranoid adults.
Also, why don’t we call these programs what they are: Child STALKING! If children are never trusted to be alone, how will they ever become trustworthy?
Our kids have already become used to surveillance. There are cameras everywhere under the guise of safety. Aside from the problem of liberty surrendered, technology gives us a false sense of security, it deadens our natural ability to perceive danger if it should present itself because we have surrendered to others watching out for us.
Our culture is in trouble because all of this has become normalized for adults and kids alike,and we have accepted others will take care of us. We are being conditioned to not have to think and solve our own problems.
::sigh:: god!@#$%, really?
These apps give parents an easy way out and stop children from having to learn to take responsibility for themselves.
My 9 year old became a latch-key kid this year. She bikes to and from school and stays home until I get there. She has a cell phone that doesn’t leave the house, so she is supposed to text me when she gets home. She plays on the playground with her friends for a little while after school before she heads home most days so is not home directly after school. The first couple days were bumpy with her staying on the playground for longer than usual and me worrying when she didn’t get home until well after school ended. My fear is her getting hit by a car crossing the very busy street she has to cross, not being abducted.
It would have easy to get one of these apps so that I could look at my phone and satisfy myself that despite the late hour she was still at the playground and not dead in the middle of Prince Avenue. Instead I bought her a watch and told her that she needed to text me by 3:30 every day. I left her to work out what time she needed to leave the playground to get home on time. She came up with the idea of setting her watch alarm for that time and figured out how to do it totally on her own. I didn’t even know she had done that until I heard it go off on a weekend a couple weeks later. She hasn’t been late a single day. She has learned responsibility, time management and problem solving and I don’t needlessly worry that she has become roadkill.
I need someone to make me an app that can detect and alert me when bears are within 50′ of my kids because honestly that is probably the #1 thing I have to worry about. i have them damm things all over the place and they traipse through the yard like they own the place, that is the biggest “fear” I have.
Like I have always said, if you need to spy on your kids and track their movements, you are the failure as a parent. Not society, not the kid but you are the one that has the problem.
Easier than going through your phones contacts in case of emergency? BS. You still have to get out your phone, find the app, initiate the app, and send your message. I can text family members a heck of a lot faster, by simply texting.
And what kind of paranoid lunatics demand their kid “touch base” in the middle of a guitar lesson?
This is insane, and I would never subject another human to this kind of treatment.
Gee, I know where my kids are far too much of the time. The boy is at uni, and pretty much looks after himself. The two girls, though, while they are out after school during term time and each have a good number of teams or service type stuff that they do, just seem to hang out with at home during weekends or holidays. …Their mates do the same, which I suspect is why they’re doing it (hanging out so much at home, I mean).
Can’t we reverse action those ankle bracelet things to get kids to get OUT of the house? Maybe I should electrify their bedrooms â˜ºâ˜º.
I get so depressed reading stuff like this.
“….even the chance to enjoy her coffee”
ENJOY COFFEE? If you are so selfish as to want to enjoy your coffee, you should never have had kids.
This is absolute madness. And I love the giant red PANIC button. Good grief. Where are we heading with this???
Lenore! While this whole thing is already nuts enough, I noticed something even more disturbing in the video. When “Kendall has departed from school” her location is the Lauinger Library at (my alma mater) Georgetown University. ACK! Can we not even trust our college-aged children to walk home alone?!
Another sad detail which I hope was solely for filming convenience: Mom walks out of the Saxbys coffee shop at 35th and O St NW, just 3 blocks from the library. The notion that a student in college, whether in their own hometown or across the country (or 3 blocks away from her mom!), should be notifying a parent of their movements – in broad daylight, no less – is absolutely ridiculous. We’ve seen all the new studies about the downsides of helicoptering, but now we can’t even start to set them free at age 18? If not then, when?
yes — this is indeed over the top .. I use the GPS on my iphone and my son’s because he’s on the spectrum and sometimes needs help getting from point A to point B. I’m glad that I can see him on my phone and point him in the right direction — but I don’t need a check in for everything in between.
When I joined the Navy back in 2001, cell phones were just becoming popular for everyone. After boot camp, it seemed like everyone but me ran to the nearest kiosk and got a phone. My friends were shocked that I didn’t get one and then, on Saturdays and Sundays, I would wander off on my own (there was a great trail on base that followed a stream and you could sometimes see deer) and when I got back, they’d be in a tizzy because they hadn’t known where I was for three or four hours. I was 18, these were my friends, not my parents, and we’d only had this capability for a month at best before they started in like this. Heaven help me if they had GPS tracking capability back then.
Kate – From someone who grew up in a college town, the fact that Kendall was at Georgetown’s library does not mean that she is actually a college student. When I was in high school, I spent a good bit of time on campus and did almost all of my research at the university library rather than the public library due to the much better selection of resources. If your parent is staff or faculty, you can even use their ID to check out books.
That said, I don’t think they thought through the ad even that much. It is really something that only Georgetown alums would notice. It was likely just filmed in the area so they used whatever popped up on the local GPS. I don’t think it was meant to imply that Kendall was a college student.
While I don’t think this is a good idea for most parents, I can see it as needed in a couple of specific cases:
1) Autistic or learning-delayed children who like to wander.
2) Those kids who SHOULD be treated like they’re under house arrest. The ones who are headed in the wrong direction, and headed towards being under the regular kind of arrest.
3) Those children where there is a real possibility of parental abduction.
“One thing that has to noted is that parental surveillance and helicoptering over children has increased at the same time that the governmentâ€™s surveillance and helicoptering over adults has increased. They seem to go together.”
That’s not a coincidence, but it’s not nefarious, either. Surveillance technology has become available, and both government and private industry have put them to use. As the technology becomes cheaper, more uses are found to be cost-effective.
Just wait. An aerial drone that can keep your child in view at all times (entirely automatically) will be the “must-have” tool for the “helicopter parent” of the near future.
My oldest asked me the other day if she could volunteer at school in a few days to help set up the fall festival. My only question was “what time?” Beyond that, it’s close enough for her to walk and she has a cell phone if she needs anything. Because she might be there after dark, I’ll probably escort her home, if only to keep other parents from freaking out. But I told her that mostly, so long as I have a general idea of where and when, it’s probably okay, she’s 13 now and should be more independent.
Unfortunately, most of her friends’ parents are the sort that probably would like this kind of tracking… whenever they decide it’s okay for their kids to go out on their own at all. She has classmates whose parents still walk them under a quarter mile to and from school. Makes it a lot harder to give my daughter the independence she should have when her friends can’t go along.
“Youâ€™ll always know if your children are where they should be, and that gives them more freedom.”
Last time I checked, “freedom” wasn’t being constantly stalked by your own parents and always being where you *should* be.
“Last time I checked, â€œfreedomâ€ wasnâ€™t being constantly stalked by your own parents and always being where you *should* be”
Perhaps not. But its closer than being at home, under direct parental observation. Baby steps before running.
Anyone on here ever watch iCarly? I used to roll my eyes at Freddie’s mom, and laughed hard during the iGo to Japan mini-movie when Freddie was the only one who could hear something beeping (it was revealed that his mom had a chip implanted into him so that she could always track his movements if she needed to).
Yeah, this is where we’re at now. Suddenly it’s not so funny.
Nope, nope, and nope. Not gonna intrude on my kids that way. My sister and I felt it too intrusive when we were in middle school and my mom insisted that we be available every 2 hours when she called home on her breaks at work. REALLY stunted our ability to roam the neighborhood all summer.
Authoritative (non-controlling) parents will allow the child greater independence and freedom as the child grows. Controlling parents will merely alter their mechanisms of control.
Like using a tracking app.
“Perhaps not. But its closer than being at home, under direct parental observation. Baby steps before running.”
Tell that to the kids in the video. Being tracked to a University library, and touching base in the middle of a guitar lesson. The examples of kids given in the video, are not kids. They are either adults or damn near adults, and you are calling for “baby steps”. The target kids for this app, are not at the age for baby steps. They are at the age where they should be driving.
Leave it to some entrepreneur to look for profit in parent’s fears. As I’ve said for a long time, it’s become an industry. I wish we had the funds to match these greedy fools ad for ad.
You all know James is taking the opposite position just to derail the conversation. Don’t engage.
Oh for Pete’s sake, just give her/him a cheapie flip phone and if he/she is late (and by late I mean LATE, not long-bathroom-break “late”), you SEND A TEXT OR MAKE A PHONE CALL. If you are terrified of scary strangers, make sure your number is in there on speed dial with a special ringtone that means HELP IT’S A LION COME GET ME IN THE CAR. Little Joe or Janey can darn well memorize your number and key it in the long way when it isn’t an emergency.
(Also: If you’re going to give your child a phone, make sure they memorize important numbers regardless. Don’t let the loss of that phone mean the loss of the ability to contact you or their friends on some other phone.)
“No. Authoritative (non-controlling) parents will allow the child greater independence and freedom as the child grows.”
These are not the target demographic for this material, however.
Alas, children cannot choose their parental units, and some are stuck with parents who choose other than what we might choose ourselves.
So, amongst those children who have (overly) controlling parents… the ones who are allowed independent movement but tracked electronically are more free than the ones who are never let out of direct parental supervision. Like I said, baby steps.
“You all know James is taking the opposite position just to derail the conversation.”
Opposite of what, pray tell?
Never mind. Fuck off, instead..
I never met a man I didn’t like
I never met a public panic I didn’t like
I never passed up an insecurity that I couldn’t profit on
I will never hesitate to fan the fire of fear if it helps my bank account
Nancy Grace and FamilySignal
I agree with everything everyone has already said, and I think this new Family Signal app just plays into the culture of “everyone must be reachable 24/7.” If I was that boy’s music teacher, I’d have made him turn off his phone during our lesson, and had words with his mother if he told me that she forbade this. I actually used to teach private clarinet lessons (I don’t play much anymore), and I don’t remember ever having to tell anyone to turn off their phone. I teach fitness classes now, and the phone thing has come up everywhere except in Aquafit, and it’s only a matter of time until waterproof smartphones become a thing. My point is, I hate that people feel like they can’t disconnect from their phones long enough to connect with a music lesson, or a yoga class, or a movie, play, concert, or other experience that’s happening RIGHT NOW.
Bears may not fall into the first world problems category. Not unless its a bear at the zoo not being entertaining enough.
Bears every once in awhile here. Mostly coyotes. Then again, my friends up north are more worried about moose, and their kids, with a pack of wolves thrown in for good measure.
And ArchimedesScrew, none of those animals are within 100s of miles of a zoo.
Has anyone else noticed that she checked on her two children about 10 times while at the coffee shop? Not only does the child have to check in every 5 min but the parent has to for some reason be on high alert at all times in case her child might be in distress which in all honesty will probably not happen.
James failed as an attorney, so the only place he can argue is online.
One of my son’s friends is on GPS tracking like this. Mommy gets emails to say where he is. His friends make fun of him and plot to steal his phone so they can put it in bad places ( mostly bar parking lots).
Wait, someone actually made “Child Tracker”?! Do they owe South Park royalties?
Is this really “checking” or is it a cover-up for emotional incest?
Disgusting. Sadly many parents will waste their money on this crap app so they can be part of the high tech app fad crowd. I hope it causes more problems than they can imagine I hope they go crazy from it with false panic button alerts. Pathetic.
I kind of want this for my husband. He travels globally all the time and sometimes I lose track of what country he’s in. It would be kind of nice to be able to turn this on and go “Oh! That’s right, he’s in Uzebekistan right now.” (I do know where is today–Germany.)
My kids? Well, they are pretty predictable. School, friends houses, parks.
I too wonder how this woman is supposed to have gained peace of mind when she can’t get a cup of coffee and drink it without asking where her son is 5 times. Also, the son interrupting his music lesson to “touch base” is…something else. (Why did practice end early? It seems to be a private lesson; did the teacher just decide “that’s enough” or was the teacher sick of the student interrupting to mess with his phone?)
Also, the app seems to have two buttons – “touching base” and “panic.” First, yep, that’s pretty much the only two ways of being most people can picture. Second, it would be easy to touch the wrong one. Third, is this really what you want your kids to do in an emergency instead of calling, say, 911?
I think part of the problem is not just the fear mongering but that cell phones have enabled us to be in touch with people (husbands, kids, moms, best friends, coworkers) 24/7, so we have become used to that. Prior to cell phones, if your husband was late getting home from work, you just assumed he was stuck in traffic or got held up in a meeting. You had no way of knowing that for sure, but that was usually the case. No reason to panic. Prior to cell phones, if you called your parents and they didn’t answer, you just figured they weren’t home… no reason to assume they have had a heart attack and you need to race over there. We were much more accustomed to not knowing where people were or what they were doing every minute of the day. If people were late or a no-show, you just assumed traffic or a diaper change, or something else held them up. That was all OK. Now, we never have that uncertainty about people’s whereabouts or why they are late because of cell phones. I think that has translated into people thinking they need to know where their kids are all.the.time.
shdd – why on earth do you care if your almost 14 year old daughter spent 2nd period in her history classroom or another location because of school elections??? I can’t think of any reason why that should matter to you at all. She is at school – why do you care where within the school? Maybe they have an assembly that day and will spend part of the day in the auditorium. Maybe the science teacher wants to take them to the library. Why does that matter AT ALL to you as a parent? Sure, if you have to pick up your child early for a dentist appointment, the school will have to find her in a different location than her schedule says, but that is the school’s job. I’ve never had trouble with the school office being able to track down my child in the library, gym, between classes, study hall, or wherever when I have needed to pick them up early. I don’t understand why this would be a useful tool for you to understand where she is during the school day. Have some trust that the school has her in a certain place for a reason. As for after school activities, my kids just text me or call me from the school office if they don’t have their cell phone and there is a change in plan (practice cancelled, need to stay late for tutoring, etc.). Kids have managed that way for years and years. It works fine.
I find this completely disgusting! God forbid kids have any privacy at all!
This ad is showing high school kids for goodness sake. Why do we have to know their exact location at any given time?! If my parents had done this to me I’d have felt like a prisoner. This is surely illegal after kids reach a certain age. Essentially these kids would have been brainwashed into consenting to it.
I’m 34 and had my teenage years in the
the 90’s. In my mind it doesn’t feel that long ago but I often feel I don’t recognise the world we live in these days.
But, but, but, that teenage guitar boy is alone with a man – he’d better have that panic button available just in case – you know what can happen with a man in the room.
I’ve thought about purchasing a similar product for my dog, but that’s because my dog is a rascal and I don’t want to risk her doing something to piss off the neighbors if she gets out of the yard. If a parent feels the need to know where their kids are 24/7, how do they even trust their kids enough to let them out of their sight?