Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kid Internet Safety - Understanding When To Attach A GPS Location Tracking Device To Your Kids Ankle

Ever had to deal with a situation where your 'kid has gone missing for a couple of hours?' As a parent, this is a very scary situation indeed! It has happened to me on a few occasions -- one minute you've got your kid by the hand in a busy shopping mall, and the next moment they are gone! Vanished! You look around in a panic, you think about their safety, and you scan the horizon 360 degrees. You feel your pulse racing, the sweat starts to drip from your forehead, and this is when I wished I had some form of kid safety monitoring technology, similar to what is strapped to a convicts ankle, and who is monitored 24 hours a day by a Jail Warden. With this being said, maybe it is time to come up with a new kid safety formula. Part of my equation, is to combine GPS location tracking technology, your kids trust, and an Internet connected cell phone -- a fresh approach to kid Internet safety.If my kid wore one of those GPS location tracking bracelets and I was able to monitor his whereabouts, I guarantee my pulse rate would never race & I would be a more relaxed person. However, it's probably not appropriate nor feasible to place one of those hi-tech ankle bracelets on your kid -- they are not criminals.I'm sure you've experienced the 'kid has gone missing for a couple of hours situation.' Well, in the name of kid safety, modern day technology is available to you in order for you to keep an eye on the whereabouts of your children at all times. As a parent it is exceptionally important to make sure your kids are safe, and that means making sure you know where and who they are with at all times (well most of the time). Keep in mind, that tracking and monitoring smaller kids, say 12 years old and younger, is relatively straight forward, but as they approach their teens it becomes more and more challenging.Consider arming your kids with a cell phone, especially as they approach their teen years. Your kids will love you for this. Trust me. From a kids perspective, they feel a cell phone is the best thing to stay in touch with their peer groups; And because their friends have cell phones they will belong to the group too -- they do not want to feel left behind and left out by any peer group.Now combine the Internet connected cell phone with the latest GPS location tracking technology and it is 100% possible to keep track of the whereabouts of your teenagers. We are not talking about strapping an ankle bracelet to them like they do with convicts. Instead, this technology is similar to that of a car GPS system, except smaller, less obtrusive, and if used correctly, is safe and secure. From your (the parents) perspective, this combined technology will help you keep in constant contact with your kids -- speaking, voice mail, texting, and location tracking. Mission accomplished!As embarrassing as it is, let me give you a real life example how this technology works. Recently, I went on a road trip with my family. My mother wanted to know when I reached my destination. Can you believe it? I am a grown man, a husband, a father, and help parents protect their kids on the Internet, but my mother wanted to know when I reached my holiday destination. Talk about an over protective mother, but that's another story.So, I decided to make it really easy (for my mother, me and the rest of my family), and installed a GPS location tracking software on my Blackberry cell phone. The software was free and took less that 5 minutes to install. When everything was complete, not only did my mother know when I reached my destination, but she was able to monitor my exact location at any time, just by logging into the software system on the Internet. As long as I kept the software 'active' on my cell phone she knew my location -- right down to a 10 foot radius.The technology is actually fantastic! It can help protect your kids, especially those that are approaching their teen years. Wouldn't you sleep easier if you knew that your kid was safe and exactly were they said they would be? On the other hand wouldn't you be concerned if you saw an Internet-based tracking icon of your kid at an undesirable location -- say for example a crime riddled part of the city? Wouldn't you feel relief if you are able to track your kid easily in either an emergency situation or after they had possibly gone missing?This is kid Internet safety at its best. This GPS location tracking technology is not for everyone, and not for all situations too. However, I feel it definitely deserves at least 15 minutes of your undivided attention. You should assess it, and understand if it will work for you and your family.Keep in mind that this technology is available for most mobile phones, irrespective of country. So your kid can be traveling through Europe or the jungles of Indonesia (with their iPhone of course), while you monitor their location from your Playbook or iPad at your home in Florida -- really anywhere, but I think you get the picture.Blackberry's, iPhones, and other cell phone 'clones', if I can call them that, have many GPS location tracking options available. Some of the options are free -- no charge; While others options are subscription or one time payment based. Regardless of phone type or location tracking features you have a variety of options available to you that may just keep your kid safe, or at least under the watchful eyes of their parents.Let me get a little serious now and talk about a very important aspect of this GPS location tracking software. You are able to track your kids location, and their ultimate safety; Then others also have the potential to track the location of your kid, which can potentially put them in danger. This is why it is exceptionally important for you as a parent to firstly, have an open and trusted relationship with your kid, and secondly guide them on how to configure and use the software features correctly. You definitely want to show them how to invite TRUSTED friends (only) into their GPS tracking circle. They need to know that they should not thoughtlessly invite anyone and everyone to have access to their location information. Once again, only trusted family and friends should be invited to the GPS tracking circle.It's a great technology for kids to locate one another, but you should have a discussion with your kid about the serious nature and the intent of the software. It is meant for their safety & nothing more. Just to illustrate this further, here's another danger scenario -- your kid needs to understand that if they turn the software off or even uninstall the GPS location software without your knowledge, it is sufficient reason to be concerned about their safety.Now on the lighter side, when it comes to letting your teens know that you are using a GPS tracking program on their mobile phone (albeit for their safety), there is a high probability that they will be unhappy with you, knowing that you are literally aware of every move they make. Therefore, you need to have a one-on-one with them, and explain why GPS location tracking software is important for their safety.Since teens are almost adults, you may want to allow for some privacy. Instead of monitoring your kids location all the time, it is best to let them develop into responsible adults on their own, and let them come up with the monitoring criteria. It may mean that you and your teenage kid have to work through some form of compromise. As an example, if your teenage kid is planning on coming home late, then you and the kid may have an agreement that location tracking starts 30 minutes after curfew time.It is best that everyone is on the same page about this, and especially that your teenage kid understands that using the kid Internet safety features of the mobile phone is to make sure that they are safe. Also, because their cell phone is Internet connected you may also want to remind them that it is extremely important to make sure certain details remain private -- don't share phone numbers, names, addresses with people they do not know. They probably know this already, but it does not hurt to repeat the information for reinforcement. Bottom line - the intent is keep your kid safe on or off the Internet.Contact your mobile service provider to help you find the perfect tracking tools and to help you operate them properly. But, make sure that your kids are OK with the 'kid Internet safety' software in order to avoid conflicts and disappointments.Approach GPS technology with an open mind. It can get your kid into trouble, but it can also keep them safe, and kid Internet safety is one of your top priorities. GPS location tracking technology does not have to be like a bracelet on your kids ankle -- an open and trusted relationship will keep the kid and the parent out of prison (figuratively speaking), and may even be saddled with moments of fun.