Google Software Lets You Track Your Kids

Filed under: In The News, Gadgets

We all know that teens do a lot of stupid things with their cell phones (send thousands of text messsages, for example, or share naked photos of themselves) but finally parents have a chance to make their teen's cell phones useful: Google now enables parents to use their child's cell phone to track exactly where he or she is all the time.

No more sneaking out to keg parties! In theory, at least.

With Wednesday's launch of Google Latitude, the company famous for its search engine enters the controversial world of "location-aware" mobile technology. It works like this: you download software to a mobile phone (yours or someone else's) and the phone broadcasts the user's location. This information can be tracked on a map, in real time, from a computer or another cell phone. Although, as Babble's Bret Singer points out, "that assumes you can use your child's cell phone better than they can. Which is probably not the case."

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Google Latitude offers users privacy controls, which allow them to protect their information, making it available only to certain people; it also permits users to go "offline" at any time. Latitude also has an "override" feature that lets users enter their location manually, which means that your kids can still say they're going to the library when they're really at that keg party.

Some things never change.

Call me old fashioned, but I don't see a need for this. One of our jobs as parents is to teach our kids to be responsible, which means letting them out of our sight every once in a while. And yes, kids will make bad choices (don't tell me you were always where you told your mom you would be when you were in high school) but if we don't give them the opportunity to make any choices, we don't teach them how to make the good ones.

So let's assume you're not using this as a safety device, but as a social networking tool -- again, I'm not sure I get it. I don't want to know where my friends are all the time, and my teen certainly doesn't need that distraction. Kids need to learn that it's okay to be alone sometimes; this type of technology emphasizes the exact opposite.

What do you think -- is this a huge step forward in technoparenting, or just another way to undermine kids' trust in adults? Do you want to know where your child (or spouse or sister or neighbor) is all the time? Or are you good with occasionally being out of touch?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.