"Keeping track of the kids is easy
August 16, 2000 12:37 PM   Subscribe

"Keeping track of the kids is easy in this smart kidswear concept which incorporates GPS-driven locators and miniature camera's allowing parents to ensure they're safe, while a computer game console worn on the sleeve keeps the kids happy." As a parent, I would pay any price to avoid actually watching or playing with my child. Where do I order?
posted by rcade (20 comments total)
I sure hope my girlfriend hasn't bought one for me ;-)
posted by joedrescher at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2000

Great-- now when someone kidnaps your child, they'll strip them right away to get rid of their GPS-enabled outfits. It only has to happen once before people realize the clothes are useless because clothes can be removed. The only way to REALLY monitor the kids will be implants, natch. It's just a matter of time.
posted by wiremommy at 1:25 PM on August 16, 2000

Despite all those Mark of the Beast worries, I'd definitely get implants for my kids. I don't see why it has to be inherently a big brother thing. Just get an implant that's nothing but a number, that nobody ever knows but the parents. When the parents lose the kid, they can turn on a receiver themselves and track the rugrat down. Or else design an implant whose number can be changed externally after each trackdown. Then just give the number to the cops, let them find your child, and then get the number changed so there's no way the cops could ever start surveillance. Works for cars, why not for kids?
posted by aaron at 2:13 PM on August 16, 2000

Maybe because kids are autonomous beings who don't necessarily want you to know where they are every second of their lives?

We all want children to be safe, but kids have a right to privacy too. What's to stop a parent from implanting their kid and preventing the kid from removing it until they are of "legal age", 18? GPS tracking sounds like a godsend for a four-year-old, but for a 12-year-old? For a 17-year-old? Imagine what your childhood and adolescence would have been like if your parents knew where you were all the time.

Like any technological innovation, it offers a distinct benefit (Find your lost child anytime!) and many hidden drawbacks (Children running away from abusive parents can be found and dragged back home without police intervention! Teenagers' every move can be monitored by neurotically strict parents around the clock! GPS codes are hacked like every other code, so random strangers can use them to keep tabs on everything you do!)
posted by wiremommy at 3:59 PM on August 16, 2000

And kids grow up. And when they do, who removes these things? At what age? And who pays for it? I love technology as much as the next girl, but I find this a bit creepy, and I agree with wiremommy. Kids are people too. I would have hated something like that as a child/teen, and I would have gone to almost any means to have it removed: illegal, dangerous, unsanitary, or otherwise.
posted by megnut at 4:21 PM on August 16, 2000

I have to agree with the disagree-ers. I would never implant anything into my child's body. I'd have to say good parenting and keeping an eye on your child would be a better solution than 'bugging' them. It would give my child no freedom, no freedom to go out and make mistakes, and to learn from them, to have experiences, or even to expirement.... its something that needs to happen while growing up....
posted by Satapher at 6:01 PM on August 16, 2000

What kind of sick freak do you have to be to imprison your child like this? If i had one of these things on i'd rip the F**ker out with my bare hands. Implanting devices unwilling into your child?! What kind of mind-bend technology-controlled people have we become? Maybe you should figure how to trust your child and give your child the trust they NEED. Its really sad that people don't just see the invasion of privacy, and the destruction of rights this would bring, its inslaveing children within their homes, turning their parents into prison guards (life-guards?). You'd think we'd learn from PUBLIC SCHOOLS (just how far can you bend a helping hand to a oppresive fist?).

IMHO - Little James
posted by Temple at 7:45 PM on August 16, 2000

Implants aren't the answer. What we need is a radio-transmitter-GPS pill, that could be swallowed whole. Once the transmitter shows up at the local waste-water plant, feed your kid another one.
posted by PaperCut at 7:46 PM on August 16, 2000

Keep in mind folks, the implant idea is hypothetical.

The link actually leads to a coat that contains a GPS. I pointed out early on that a coat can be removed, so an implant would be the logical progression. But we're not there quite yet.
posted by wiremommy at 8:03 PM on August 16, 2000

I'd fight this 'progression' with all of my might. And anyone with half a brain would too. I wouldn't even give my children the jacket... regardless
posted by Satapher at 9:30 PM on August 16, 2000

No, no, I'm not saying parents should have the ability to track their teenager's movements at any time for any reason. I'm only into this for the idea that you could easily find your kid in cases of true life-threatening emergency: disabling injury, kidnapping, things like that. (Of course, when your kid is, say, four, you have a legal responsibility to know where s/he is at all times.) And I believe there has to be a technological way to accomplish this without also making it possible for your parents to come after you just because they think you went to a party when you told them you were going to study at a friend's house. If such a thing hadn't been developed, I wouldn't obtain a privacy-violating implant. And once the kid reached a certain age, I'd be perfectly happy to respect his/her decision whether to have one at all.

The implants themselves aren't hypothetical. There's a company out there that's planning to start offering them before the end of the year. I forget the name; Little Angel, Guardian Angel, it's definitely called "angel" something. I don't know anything about how it operates, though. I presume it's pretty crude on the potential-misuse front.
posted by aaron at 12:24 AM on August 17, 2000

I agree with aaron for the most part. Everyone has it stuck in their head that parents will be sitting around watching every move a child makes if they had an implanted tracking device. That may not even neccessarily be an option for parents if you set this kind of thing up correctly.

Lets say for instance, that you (the parent) have a pass code that allows you to track little johnny, but the hardware isn't something that any individual can purchase at the store. If a parent is truely concerned for the childs safety, they have to go to the police station (or somewhere, just an example) and fill out some type of form stating their concerning. At this point they can take their pass code and use the hardware (with the assistance of someone at the station) to check on the child.

This even makes it possible (assuming laws are setup) for minors to request that no one be able to keep tabs on them (and possibly even change the code to their liking).
Just some ideas I thought I would throw out there.
posted by howa2396 at 1:03 AM on August 17, 2000

Maybe I am missing something. I don't see the GPS-jacket idea as threatening at all. It's like a life jacket. For example: when the family goes camping they put the GPS jacket on little johnny so that, in case he wanders into the forest, he can be quickly located and brought back to camp. Nobody could force a kid older than toddler age to wear the thing once s/he was out of sight of his/her parents (which is the only time they would have use for it anyway right?). When I was a teenager, if my parents demanded I wear something like that when I went out I would just drop it in the lost-and-found at the library on my way to the party.

On the other hand, As a parent I'd be happier with an eBook than a game console and the cameras are a little gratuitous I think.
posted by plaino at 2:27 AM on August 17, 2000

If I get implants on my kids, I want useful implants like cranium mounted lasers.

posted by plinth at 5:19 AM on August 17, 2000

Mmmm, an electronic stalking device for the little ones. Seriously, I think that it is a good thing for parents to know where their children are, especially in an emergency. I am distressed, however, that this provides yet another surrogate set of eyes in lieu of actual parental responsibility. The more that we rely on gadgetry to do our work for us, the less able we are to think or exert effort. The stories of "hikers" using cell phones calling rangers to get rides out of the wilderness when tired or using GPS without realizing that map-reading skills are required come to mind.

Besides, I think that the game console is there to make the kid forget (or not care) that Big Mother is watching him/her.
posted by Avogadro at 7:51 AM on August 17, 2000

I don't get you guys. Parents have every right to know where there under 18 kid is at all times, when they turn 18 they may do as they please.
posted by owillis at 3:38 PM on August 17, 2000

And owillis, if you did this, and refused to let your child have any experiences, or make his/her own mistakes... you would have the dullest child alive... i really believe that the first 12 or so years of a childs life determines alot of personality traits... im a big advocate of the enviromental side of people turning out the way they are... its like taking cold medicine..... after a while, your body's immune system becomes so weak to the cold virus, because you keep on insisting that the 'medicine' do it for you, that if you didnt have the medicine, theryd be no way your body could fight it off.... also, how the hell is a child that has been 'monitored' by its parents going to react to the real world? jesus christ.... and whos to say that '18' is the appropriate age at which to let these 'kids' loose? becuase the government says thats the legal age for adulthood? come on now.... this whole idea infuriates me so much....
posted by Satapher at 5:01 PM on August 17, 2000

Turn it around, owillis-- what would your childhood & adolescence have been like if your parents had tabs on you at all times?

I agree with Satapher and Avogadro. Not only would constant parental monitoring be oppressive, but it would teach kids and young adults that they need never take responsibility for themselves or their actions, because someone would always have tabs on them and would come to their rescue.
posted by wiremommy at 5:07 PM on August 17, 2000

well, my mother knew exactly where i was every moment of the day. i was required to call her when i was out with my friends, and she always knew who i was with. i turned out ok...
posted by owillis at 6:13 PM on August 17, 2000

Brushes with GPS:

Episode 1: 1995

It was my first time riding in the 5 Boro Bike Tour. While we were resting in Astoria Park, I noticed this distressed middle aged couple. They had helmets which were wired with walkie-talkie head sets and a one-eye heads-up display that included a rear view mirror and a GPS status monitor flanked on the left side of the helmet. Their helmets looked like a gizmo from the CIA or special forces catalog. There were two wires which extended from the helmet and went into their back packs.

Cause of their distress?
They had lost their two teen-aged children. The children were also fitted with these gizmos. They had planned to keep in touch with each other incase anyone got lost during the 55 mile tour riding through the 5 boroughs of New York.

I chuckled. I think the kids just turned the systems off and took off for the day than ride around town looking like super-geek cyborgs.

Episode 2: Dec. 31, 1999

We were in Times Square when a out-of-town buddy produced his really neat GPS device to show me exactly where we were. It failed to pick up the "signals". My buddy blamed the tall buildings around us.

"Dude - just look up and look at those green street signs. We are at 47th and Broadway," I said.

He also brought a portable TV with him. That turned out to be a better entertainment than the GPS. The GPS thingy did work later at night, when we tried to see if the world really would come to a halt when year 2000 comes in London/GMT. It did not. All the sattelites are syncronized with GMT. The global clocks all rolled over to year 2000. Not a single sattelite malfunctioned or tried to crash and burn, hurling towards Times Square.

There were no more fun left as we waited for the ball to drop in New York. We knew it would not be the end of the world.
posted by tamim at 2:45 AM on August 18, 2000

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