by Carlo Longino

When Technology Takes Over Parenting

One of the favorite location-based services to launch are kid-tracking systems -- after all, what parent wouldn't want to pay to protect their child, particularly when a marketer asks them that question? One such service has launched in the UK, allowing parents to send an SMS to a shortcode and receive back an MMS with a map showing the location of their child's phone. We've been pretty skeptical of the value of these services in the past, and this new one doesn't do anything to change that view. The company's CEO says the service lets parents find out where their kids are without making "embarrassing" calls or sending messages to them. So it's just something to make parents feel better about keeping track of their kids, rather than actually doing anything to keep kids safe? Previous criticisms of these tracking systems still stand, with a significant one being that they are easily defeated, either by kids themselves, or predators. The company even says on its site "It goes without saying that your child should be carrying their mobile phone and the phone should be switched on," meaning kids can simply render it useless by shutting their phone off, not to mention leaving it somewhere where they aren't and taking another phone. While there's no doubt that technology can be used to help protect children, it's doubtful that technology will ever be sufficient enough to replace a parent's role as protector of their children. Still, it sounds better than RFID pajamas.

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