Spy Centre Security, a GPS tracking and “spy” device store has announced a new line of GPS tracking devices that they are marketing specifically for parents of teenagers. According to their press release they have devices starting at $199 the “[make] it possible to get constant updates on your teenagers’ car.” My initial thought was that if they have a real time teen GPS tracking device for that price then they are going to be pretty competitive in the tracking market. The only other real time device that I am aware of is the Zoombak and that is retailing right now on Amazon for $125. Most other real time trackers are going to cost from around $250 and up.
But upon further investigation, it appears that the claims made in the press release are a little misleading. To those that don’t understand the distinction between a data logger (passive GPS) and a real time tracker (active GPS) could have been duped by the claim made by the following sentence:
At Spycentre.com we now sell GPS products starting at just $199 making it possible to get constant updates on your teenagers’ car.
(While this sentence does come from a site not associated with Spy Centre Security, it does contain their contact information and is very similar to a press release posted on the companies website on September 11, 2009. This leads me to believe that the message is legitimate.)
Consumers need to know the difference between a data logger and a real time tracker if they are to really understand how to best track their teen and to sift through clever marketing attempts of GPS manufacturers.
Teen GPS Tracking Data Loggers
A data logger is a GPS tracking device that simply records the position of the device at set intervals determined by the user or by the device itself. In order to access the information that the device records, you must retrieve the device and download the contents onto your computer. GPS tracking software then interacts with the data and plots it on an interactive Google Maps like interface.
This type of tracking is great when you only need to know somethings trip after the fact. For example, if you enjoy launching hobby rockets and you want to know how high and how fast your rocket travels then using a data logger is a great way to get that information.
One of the newest types of data loggers to hit the market are GPS tracking sticks. These devices are as large as a USB stick and very similar in build and shape. They even have a male USB connection built in for a simple downloading process. Just plug the device in and watch the software take over and do the work of analyzing the data for you.
Certainly powerful stuff, but not what most parents think of when they want to know where there teen is. These devices can be great for getting a good understanding of your teen’s driving habits – but they are not good for knowing where your teen is when they are late in getting home. They are not good when a natural disaster strikes and you need to know where your teen is right now. For that, you would need a real time GPS tracker.
With that said, a data logger is what is currently being offered for $199 on the Spy Centre Security website. I wonder how their tracking stick compares with this $145 one from Amazon?
Teen Real Time GPS Tracking
A real time GPS tracking device is one that is able to send its position information from the device to a third party so that the position of the device can be seen in real time. This is what most parents are going to think about when they are looking into GPS trackers for their teenager. They are also fairly expensive devices that will end up costing you hundreds of dollars up front and a regular subscription fee for the data transfers between your tracking device and the company’s servers.
The real time trackers available through Spy Centre Security are certainly expensive. The cheapest models that they offer run $450 and have a service plan of $30 a month according to the press release mentioned above. The first year of use will run $810 – a steep price to pay for being able to track your teen’s car with GPS.
The Cell Phone Tracking Solution
The obvious solution to this issue is to find a cheaper, real time tracking solution for parents of teenagers. The best solution that I have come across is to turn a teen’s cell phone into a GPS tracking device. Many of today’s cell phones already have a GPS antenna inside the phone that allows them to pick up GPS signals from outer space, eliminating the most obvious hurdle off the get go. And since most teenagers want the latest and greatest cell phone you know that they probably already have a GPS enabled cell phone on them right now.
All that you now need to do is download some GPS tracking software for cell phones and you have a fully functional GPS tracking system in the palm of your teen’s hand. There are plenty of paid services out there for parents looking at a paid option. Most cell phone carriers offer something that you can take a look at that will add a nominal monthly fee to your cell bill.
Another option open to parents is to go with free GPS tracking software for cell phones. This might take a little more work on your part of monitoring and installing the system, but can you beat free?
In the end, whatever you decide to do with your teen is really up to you. Teen GPS tracking devices are relatively new, but that should not deter parents from taking advantage of this new and powerful technology to help them raise honest, law-abiding children who drive safely and come home on time. While some might balk at tracking their teen with GPS, here at GPS For Today we feel like there are plenty of reasons why parents have every right to track a teen driver. If you are interested in reading more about what we have to say on this topic here are some of the more important articles: