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Track the Kids with a GPS

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Calling all helicopter moms: There's a new gadget out there that's made just for you. It's the SecuraPAL, a mini-GPS device that sits in your kid's backpack so you can track his every move, if you so desire.

Kid wearing backpack

Ronda Kaysen: The brainchild of SecuraTrac founder and CEO Chris Holbert, SecuraPAL acts as Mommy's eyes and ears when Mommy is nowhere in sight. You can set the device to send you an alert when your child leaves predetermined "fence" areas, or to give you a heads-up if your teen is driving the minivan like a madman. And, of course, if the unthinkable happens and your child goes missing, you can pinpoint his location instantly.

My first thought when I heard about the device was that this would only make parents more anxious and totally consumed with their kid's every move. If I knew a text message was coming to tell me my kid had made it to his friend's house after school, I'd be checking my BlackBerry every five minutes until the alert came in -- which seems to defeat the device's purpose of making me feel calm.

But Holbert, who has two small children, insists it has just the opposite effect. "It's really just about securing your peace of mind," he tells momlogic.

His 4-year-old daughter doesn't have a SecuraPAL yet because she doesn't really go anywhere. But his 6-year-old son, Christopher, who gets shuttled between school and an aftercare program, has one of the $200 devices with him all the time.

Holbert likes to think of the SecuraPAL as a buddy for the kid -- it even has an SOS button your child can press if he feels like he's in danger (it sends a message back to you). But it's Mom's friend, too. After all, you've got a little device that tracks your kid and lets you know if she is where she says she is.

"The parent can be there without having to be there," says Holbert.

Again, that got me wondering. Isn't part of letting your kids grow up about letting them be independent and not having a text message sent to you every time they go to the bathroom? Aren't we supposed to start trusting them at some point ... or, at the very least, start trusting their caregivers?

Trust, it seems, is all a matter of perspective. "We believe it will be [used] for lengthening the leash, where parents say, 'As long as you have it, we'll let you go,'" says Holbert. "You wouldn't use it to track their every move."

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cheryl March 24, 2010, 5:05 AM

It seems like this would make more sense for small children that are too young for a cell phone. For teens, it seems intrusive.

Lindy March 24, 2010, 8:37 AM

I work with a helicopter mom who would seriously use it.

tennmom March 24, 2010, 9:23 AM

Our children going to the bathroom? Um, I don’t feel the need to be alerted. If one of them goes past a certain area? Yes, I want to know. They are either going somewhere without permission or a lunatic has tossed them into a car and is driving off with them.
I’m not a helicoptor for wanting to know where my daughters are.

nutmac March 24, 2010, 3:04 PM

Waaaaaay too expensive! The device itself costs $230 ($200 during promo) and you must subscribe to $25/month ($22.50 during promo) service.

If your kid has a cell phone, many cell services offer GPS tracking service for much less. For instance, AT&T offers similar FamilyMap service for $10/month, which includes tracking for up to 2 lines within the family plan ($15/month for 5).

Sanity May 10, 2010, 12:35 PM

And Verizon offers the Chaparone plan on their phones, too

ryan July 8, 2010, 10:23 AM

I got a teen tracking system for a real good price online through a company called Tracking System Direct. I would recommend any parent with a newly licensed teen check get one of these units.

MamaBird July 27, 2010, 8:06 AM

The device is great - phone won’t give you actual real-time location and/or directions to your kids. The phones also won’t tell you where your kids have been (not historical tracking). I like it b/c of the SOS button - if they are in trouble and can’t make a call, at least I can be alerted.

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