This is a pretty touchy topic in the world of GPS tracking. Some people think that tracking your spouse is the worst thing that you could ever do in your entire life. Others think that it is a fine thing to do given certain permissions from all parties involved. Still others feel like any form of tracking, even covert GPS tracking, is acceptable because of the agreement made by the couple in the covenant of marriage.* Our feelings about spouse GPS tracking are as varied as just about anything can be.
* Perhaps this should be added to the marriage vows: “.. in GPS tracking and out of GPS tracking …” What do you think?
Personally, I am somewhere between allowing covert GPS tracking and permission based tracking. The way I look at it is like this: When a couple gets married they are making a solemn vow to each other to be there for the other. They are committing to be together with their spouse until they die, no matter what types of circumstances come their way. We say “for richer or for poorer” and “in sick and in health” among many other vows and promises. What we do in this is make declarations that I will be married to you and provide for you and protect you no matter what comes our way – whether poverty or riches, sicknesses or good health. Marriage is for a lifetime.
As such, there is a great degree of responsibility between spouses to be faithful and serious about their marriage relationship. You should try and make things work as best as you possibly can. All of your effort should be on working with your husband or wife on growing deeper in love and in building your trust and respect for each other. You should work tirelessly on making the other happy.
But there are some instances where husbands and wives violate the bond of marriage by being unfaithful to their spouse. They hide the unfaithfulness and keep it a secret from their spouse. This is to be expected, but I think it is the right of the cheated upon to find out the truth. In such cases I think that GPS tracking is completely within the rights of the spouse who is being cheated on in order to find out the truth about their spouse’s activities. It should not be used to stalk, or hunt, or harass. Only to find out the truth.
With that said, I also think that spouses should be up front about this type of thing with each other. Going into marriage they should make an agreement with one another that if ever the other in the relationship expects some form of infidelity then they have the right to do some covert GPS tracking.
In most normal circumstances I do think that most couples should adhere to the “mutually agreed upon” principle of spouse GPS tracking. This just makes a lot of sense to me and my understanding of how marriage should operate. Aside from suspected cheating, a spouse should never track their other just because they want to. This would be a violation of trust and the promises made to the other at the altar.
With all that said, there are a lot of cool things that couples can do if they decide to use GPS tracking together. Here is just a smattering:
Create An Environment of Safety When you are separated from your spouse, GPS tracking is a great way to stay connected and help them feel safe. If they know where you are at any given moment they can provide a lot of support for you. If you get attacked, they can come to your assistance. If you get injured, they can find you without having to call you and have you give them directions. Also, if a natural disaster were to separate you from each other all you would need to do would be to check on their location via the GPS tracker that you have on them and you can find out exactly where they are and be reunited with them. GPS makes a ton of situations easier to cope with.
Be Able To Give Great Directions and Assistance One situation that often occurs is getting lost. We find our self in a new place and our bearings get a little off. All of a sudden we find that we are in a neighbor we have never seen and don’t know how to get out. It might be late at night and we may be feeling our heart rate rise as we drive around looking for some type of help. Instead of having to spend hours working out of this situation all we need to do is call our spouse. They can find out our exact GPS location and plug that into a mapping software like GoogleMaps. They then could give us turn by turn directions on our way home and out of our scary predicament.
Wouldn’t that be neat?
Get Fit Together One of the most common things that spouses try and do together is get fit. GPS tracking can help spouses keep each other accountable even if they don’t have a schedule that lets them workout together. Just do your daily run, hike, or bike with your GPS tracking device and some free GPS fitness software and you can have a detailed log of your spouses fitness activity. If you go all out and buy a device like a GPS running watch it will let you even share your workouts between devices. If you want to keep pace with each other and you own a GPS watch like the Garmin Forerunner 405 then you can use the virtual partner feature on this device and even “race” against your spouse’s recorded time!
Spouse GPS Tracking Devices
Probably the best way for spouses to track each other with GPS is through the cell phone. There are dozens of free cell phone tracking applications out on the market that will make your tracking very cheap if not entirely free. While these cell phone programs do require a GPS enabled cell phone and a pretty big data plan if you want to have continuous real time tracking, they do provide stellar results given the price for the software (free!). If you don’t already have a GPS cell phone and you don’t have a data plan, it is still probably the cheapest form of GPS tracking out there right now. You can see our list of free GPS tracking software and cell phone applications for more information and phone compatibility.
If you don’t want to go with a cell phone to track your spouse with GPS there are stand alone device that you can use, but these are often much more expensive and simply not as useful as a cell phone. They might be necessary if you want to do covert GPS tracking on your spouse, but most people aren’t going to need to tracking their spouses in this way.
GPS tracking sticks are extremely small and portable GPS tracking devices. They resemble a USB memory sticks in appearance and generally have a male USB connection built into the device. These devices are data loggers, meaning that they passively record their GPS coordinates at set intervals and store the data on the device’s memory. In order for the owner of the device to be able to access this information they need to recover the tracking stick and download its contents onto their computer.
As I am sure you have already inferred, these devices are made for certain types of GPS tracking. These devices excel at helping you know where someone or something has been and are very good at being concealed discretely because of their size. It works great for a runner who wants to accurately measure their daily runs and cannot afford a more expensive GPS running watch. Parents can use it to track a child or a teenager to make sure they have been where they say they have been. These devices can also be used by different type of R/C hobbyists who would like to know things like the height traveled by a rocket or plane, or the distance traveled by their car or boat. This device can even be used by employers to make sure that employees are making appropriate use of company property.
In essences, these work great for tracking anything that you don’t need to know its position right away. If you can track it and then get it later, a GPS tracking stick can be a cheap alternative.
But these sticks are certainly not going to be very useful in some types of tracking applications. Here is a quick list of some of the types of tracking this device is NOT really that good for:
GPS fleet tracking – Fleets need to have real time information on the location of their fleet if they are going to be able to route vehicles and monitor their activity efficiently. Getting all the data after the fact is not going to provide the performance that a business in this situation is going to require.
Friend tracking – There are a lot of friend tracking application for the cell phone, many of them free, but you can’t run any of them on a GPS tracking stick. You are certainly able to tell where a friend has been with one of these devices. This, however, does not help you when you want to see which one of your friends is at the same mall as you or if they are at the same party.
Teen driver tracking (in some applications) – Some parents are going to want to be able to check on the status of their teen in real time. A tracking stick will not let you do this. It will help you monitor your teen while they drive the car and give you the tools you need to enforce your family driving rules – you just can’t do it in real time.
Real time spouse tracking – If you are interested in following your cheating spouse to the scene of the cheat then you don’t want to use a tracking stick. GPS tracking cell phones would work great in this application, just not tracking sticks.
Property recovery GPS – If you want to recover stolen property then a data logger is definitely not the GPS tracking device that you want to go with. While the property is in the hands of the thief there is no way for you to access the GPS information being gathered by the device – making it useless as a property recovery GPS.
As you can see, GPS tracking sticks are useful and powerful data loggers and should not be used for real time tracking. As far as GPS tracking devices go, tracking sticks are among the smallest and most easily concealed of all the trackers. They take up just a few inches and could easily be mistaken for a USB memory stick if they were to be “discovered” while being employed as a covert tracking device. If you don’t need immediate access to your tracking data and need a small device that will get you solid GPS data then a GPS tracking stick is certainly going to meet your needs.
Being able to find a portable GPS solution for your GPS tracking needs is going to be very easy. There are literally hundreds of units available to the person who is willing to keep their options open. You can find old GPS units that are not as powerful but are much, much cheaper or you can go with the top of the line in the GPS category of your choice and get the latest in functionality, but you are going to have to pay a premium for it.
Your search for a portable GPS might leave you a little bewildered when it comes to all the different choices available to you. Which unit should you buy? Will it meet your needs? Is there a better or a cheaper or a more useful GPS out there? Hopefully this article will provide information to help the person searching for the right GPS for them find it. Below is a list of a variety of different GPS devices that can be very portable and easy to use:
Most people know about GPS because of the navigation models that have flooded the market. The earliest models were once hundreds of dollars, but now you can buy a navigation GPS for under $50. This type of device is going to be used mainly inside of a car, truck, or van and is going to be used to help a person get from point A to point B. Modern portable navigation GPS have a variety of different features including Bluetooth compatibility, real time traffic updates, weather announcements, text-to-speech turn-by-turn directions, and a few others. These add a little bit to the experience of users, but when it comes down to it these GPS devices are really just beautiful portable maps.
Marine GPS, as you might have guessed, are meant to be used on the water. They provide fisherman, boaters, and other aquatic aficionados access to important location information that we once turned to the stars to establish. With a good chart plotter you can find your way back to your favorite ocean fishing spot, a really nice beach, or a hidden island somewhere off the coast. These devices are surprisingly affordable and if you already own a boat you are probably going to be rich enough to buy one of these portable GPS units.
The maps on these units is much like a navigation GPS except they might not have the same types of features as these navigational cousins have. What traffic is there on the open seas? What good is Bluetooth going to do you out on the ocean? That is why these devices generally ignore these features. But what you will get is a great GPS that is going to help you move about the water with confidence that you are heading toward your destination.
Geocaching is a sport, or a hobby depending on who you talk to, that is very similar to a treasure hunt. How it works is that a person hides an object somewhere in the world. They then post the GPS coordinates of where they hid the item on a website like http://www.geocaching.com. Any person can then go on this website and jot down the coordinates of the treasure, or cache as it is called in the geocaching world. The person then goes to that cache using portable, hand-held GPS device like the Garmin eTrex H. Once they find it they take whatever treasure was hidden inside and then replace it with a treasure of their own.
Geocaching is great for kids, hikers, and people who need a little motivation to get outside and get moving. Most caches are going to require that you use your brains and muscles together, making this a great sport for people who like to be active but also enjoy a mental challenge as well.
A golf GPS is a portable GPS device that is going to help golfers get a better understanding of where they are on a golf course at any given point in time. They act as expert caddies that know the distance from any spot on the course to the hole, and with GPS helping out they are even more accurate than the best golfer around. These devices can be pretty expensive, but a golf GPS is a must have for a golfer who has trouble choosing the right club for the shot or who is constantly traveling to new courses. The Garmin Approach G5 is probably the best golf tracking GPS out there, but there are a few free applications available for the iPhone and Blackberry mobile phones. All of these are extremely portable and extremely useful for the golfer.
Fitness GPS are meant to be portable by their very nature. What good is a fitness GPS going to be if you can’t take it out with you and a run or on a bike ride? Not very much. As a result manufacturers make these devices small and highly mobile. Some of the best fitness GPS equipment comes in the form of a wrist watch, the Garmin Forerunner series. There are also GPS devices for cyclists, kayakers, and swimmers – giving them all a very technical look at their workouts.
These devices are really great because they help athletes improve their performance by being able to gather accurate and robust data on their workouts. They can then use this data to improve their routines and concentrate on parts of them where they need the most work.
While not everyone is going to need to buy a fitness GPS watch, everyone would benefit from these powerful training aids.
Covert GPS Tracking
Another form of portable GPS devices are covert GPS tracking devices. These units are designed to provide tracking information on a person or asset. They are often installed covertly so that the person or assets doesn’t know about their presence. These are often installed on cars to track them, but they can also be installed in boxes, bags, backpacks, or even clothes. They can even be small enough to be comparable to a a USB memory stick!
The thing about covert GPS tracking device is that they are not going to be cheap, especially if you get one that has real time tracking capabilities. If you just want a plain old vanilla data logger then you can find one for under $200. If you want a real time tracker that has any type of battery life then you are going to have to drop a pretty hefty sum on it. In addition to that you are going to need to pay for the tracking service and access to the GPS tracking software, which is probably going to run your anywhere from $15-$50 a month.
Car Tracking GPS
Car GPS tracking is a lot like covert tracking except that you don’t care if the person driving the car knows you are tracking them. This is great for helping a teen driver drive safely or for recovering a stolen vehicle. If you are going to be using the portable car tracking device to help your teen drive better than it is highly recommended that you discuss this with them and give them all the help and information they need to know to be a good driver. No amount of GPS tracking is going to be able to make them a good driver unless they know some of the basic skills that make up a good driver. For that they need a parent.
Theft recover GPS tracking is another use of car tracking GPS. While these devices can easily be blocked using a GPS tracking blocker, these devices are still relatively useful in because they do have a very high recovery rate. If your car gets stolen all you need to do is log on to your GPS tracking software service and you will be shown the exact location of your car in real time. This makes it very easy for the police to use to find your vehicle and make an arrest.
Fleet Tracking GPS
Finally, the last category of portable GPS devices is the fleet tracking GPS. These units are made specifically for businesses that need a better way to manage, dispatch, and protect their vehicle fleets. Most consumers are not going to need this level of tracking so you probably won’t need to know too much about this type of tracking service. What you do need to know is that these devices are extremely expensive but often have wonderful results for businesses that employ them.
I mean, just think about how useful it would be to be able to route, give directions, and monitor your vehicles with the assistance of portable GPS devices. The ease of it would be ridiculous. Generally speaking, small businesses have more success with the use of fleet tracking GPS than larger fleets – but almost universally there is an improvement when this technology is employed.
Which Portable GPS Do You Need?
As you can clearly see from the above analysis, there are three different types of portable GPS units. There is the unit that works like a mobile map. This GPS device is going to use the data it gathers from the Global Positioning System in conjunction with some mapping data already installed on the device. The coordinates that the GPS calculates via trilateration are placed somewhere on the mapping application and then displayed for the user to see. The navigation, marine, golf, and geocaching GPS all fall into this category.
They generally have rich displays that provide a lot of information to their users. Usability and intuitive interfaces are among the top priority for these devices, and that means they need to have a reliable connection to a GPS signal, bright, readable screens, and an easy way to navigate about the menus. Major names in these niches include Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, Lowrance, and Navigon.
The second category of portable GPS devices that we see in the list above is passive GPS tracking devices. This is the type of unit that does not have a digital map display but instead keeps a log of the GPS coordinates of where the device has been. This log is taken passively and is to be downloaded later for interaction with a secondary GPS software package. This software will interpret the information gathered by the tracking device and then spit it all back out in a way that is useful and makes sense to the user.
This type of device can be found in the fitness GPS and covert GPS tracking categories. Items like the Garmin Forerunner 405, Garmin Edge 705, and the TrackStick all fall inside this grouping. While both the Forerunner 405 and Edge 705 have a graphic display, this serves more of a fitness function than a GPS function. Things like speed and distance traveled are displayed rather than their position in the grander scheme of things. In order to get that type of information you have to download your workout history and run it through a GPS software to see where your workout took you.
The TrackStick has no graphic display whatsoever and is purely a passive tracking device. All you do with this GPS tracker is turn it on, place it where you want it to be, and let it do the tracking for you. When the battery runs out or when you no longer want to track that particular person or object you just remove the device and download the data. Your GPS tracking software will then interpret the data and put it on a map for you – but this map is going to be on your personal computer rather than on the portable GPS tracking device itself.
And finally, the last category of portable GPS devices are real time GPS tracking units. This set of devices differs from passive GPS trackers in that the information gathered by the device is communicated in real time to the GPS tracking software. You don’t have to wait to download the tracking log from the device as it sends out the data actively at set intervals.
These real time GPS tracking devices use a system know as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) that is part of modern cell phone networks. It is the means by which this information is communicated to the GPS tracking software. If the GPS is unable to connect to a network where it can transmit the data you cannot get real time tracking with these devices.
As you can clearly see, the number of portable GPS units is astounding. Depending upon what GPS niche you are looking to get a device in will impact your level of choice significantly. There are some brand names that span many different categories, which the GPS giant Garmin being the dominate force in many categories, but there is no one clear leader in all fields of GPS devices. Be sure to read up and get informed about any particular device you are thinking about buying. While all of them are going to be using GPS to do what they do, not all portable GPS devices are equal.
Like with most other forms of GPS tracking, when it comes to vehicle tracking using GPS there are two main types: real-time tracking and passive, logging tracking. Depending on why you want to track a certain vehicle will determine which method of tracking you employ. However, it is important to note that GPS vehicle tracking is more viable today than it has ever been in the history of GPS or vehicle tracking so there are going to be a lot of different options for the person serious about finding an option that works best for them.
There is also going to be a distinction between those who want to track a vehicle with GPS for personal use and those that want to employ vehicle tracking for a business. The equipment and the systems used will differ in quality and design, but not necessarily in how they work – they will be using GPS tracking technology to find, record, and report the location of a vehicle to someone. As we will see, it is how these devices do this that matters.
Real Time GPS Vehicle Tracking
When most people think about GPS based vehicle tracking they think of tracking that occurs in real time. If a vehicle is at 101 North Main Street then a person is going to want to be able to look at a computer running some GPS tracking software and be able to tell that. If the vehicle then turns left down Michigan Street they want to be able to tell that this has occurred within a reasonable amount of time – say 5 seconds. This is the power of real time GPS tracking.
But there are several things that you have to realize if you are going to choose this type of GPS vehicle tracking system:
Tracking devices that offer updates in real time are often anything but cheap. It can run you hundreds of dollars just for the hardware that gets the tracking off the ground. On top of the hardware purchase there is going to be a service fee of some amount depending on the company that you choose to service your GPS tracking plan. Different companies will work with different hardware and some companies will charge you more than others for access to your real-time tracking information. Most companies are going to make your tracking data available through a GoogleMaps-like interface, so it should come down to who is going to offer you the best price for the services that you really need.
Not all GPS tracking devices are created equal. The more modern the device the more likely it is going to have the latest technology in terms of GPS receptiveness and communication technology. For example, the newer SiRFstarIII chipset is widely accepted as being superior to other previous GPS chips. It acquires a signal much faster and can even get a GPS signal where many other older GPS chipsets cannot. You are also going to want to make sure that your GPS has access to GPRS, a system that will allow your GPS tracking device to transmit the data it gathers on the vehicle to the software that will display it for you on your computer screen.
In addition to the paid services you can get some GPS tracking for free. Probably the best vehicle trackers are cell phones, especially since there are tons of free GPS tracking applications for them. While you won’t get a lot out of this type of free service, if you put some thought and work into you can use a free tracking program to do all sorts of cool stuff. It normally doesn’t scale too well, so this type of tracking is only really going to work for an individual, a family, or a small business that want to track their vehicles with GPS.
Most people who choose to use real time GPS vehicle tracking fall into one of two categories, they want to use it for GPS fleet tracking or they want to track a single person. The reasons that business would choose to track their vehicles with GPS are obvious. Most small businesses that employ some form of GPS tracking generally see an increase in the number of services orders that their fleet fulfills in just two years time. The average increase they see is around 25%, making GPS tracking a very useful tool in the chest of a business owner.
If used appropriately, real time fleet tracking can improve worker productivity, create a positive work environment, improve vehicle routing, streamline fleet maintenance, and encourage efficient work habits. This can be a win-win for employees and employers alike if deployed with tact.
Then there is using real time GPS tracking for personal use. Here is a list of some of the reasons that a person may choose to use a personal GPS vehicle tracking system:
Know when a spouse with an erratic schedule is on their way home.
Keep connected with family members while on a long road trip.
This list is by no means exhaustive and is simply supposed to be a small indication of the different things that a person can do with this type of technology. The possibilities are really limited by our imagination and ingenuity.
GPS Vehicle Tracking Loggers
Data loggers are a completely different beast. While they do work off the same basic GPS principles that real time trackers work off of, they do not have the all important real time capabilities that GPRS gives a real time tracker. Loggers are mostly used in covert GPS vehicle tracking done by police or by private parties to help them get a better understanding of a person’s activities. For example, there was a GPS vehicle tracking logger at the center of the warantless GPS tracking case. This device was used by police, who had a warrant by the way, to track down the activity of a suspected stalker. They installed it on his car and waited about two weeks. The evidence was then downloaded on the police computers where they were able to place the suspect at the scene of a stalking incident that happened during the time when the GPS tracking was active.
The GPS vehicle tracking equipment used in this type of tracking is often much cheaper than other their real time tracking counterparts. You can generally get one of these devices for under $200 and they can provide location information for months since they track vehicles passively. Also, you won’t have to worry about an expensive service fee because these devices have no such fee. They don’t use GPRS nor do they need to communicate with a third party. All GPS tracking software is going to be installed locally on one of your own computers so no one else has to know about the data that you gather.
Also, data loggers (like GPS tracking sticks) generally have a much longer active battery life than do real time GPS trackers. This is because transmitting data via GPRS can be very taxing on a units power supply. Without constant power it can be difficult to get real time information on a target that you want to track in secret and going back to the scene of the tracker could lead to having it found out by the person you want to track covertly.
This makes it great for covert GPS tracking or for tracking a person in secret. While real time tracking is certainly going to be more useful if you want to take action on data while something is actually happening, data logging can be just as useful for vehicle tracking.
Which GPS Tracking Solution Best Meets Your Needs?
When you come to the final analysis you will have to weigh your budget constraints with your tracking wishes. I don’t think that there are many people who would prefer a data logger over a real time tracker, but money is a serious limitation for some people and they simply cannot afford the cost associated with live tracking capabilities. No matter which option you go with you can be certain that there is a GPS vehicle tracking device out there for you, your needs, and your budget.
Before we jump into the ins and outs, ups and downs of GPS tracking for cars let’s take a second to put this type of GPS application into perspective. Let’s look at a real life example of how this technology is actually being used with great effectiveness today. This will help us better understand how we can use GPS tracking to better monitor the activity of our teen driver, our cheating spouse, a company vehicle, an employee, or even our own activity. This technology is here and is only going to become more pervasive as it continues to tumble in price and more and more companies get in on the car tracking action. The following is a brief excerpt from a news article that ran in the Washington Post:
Someone was attacking women in Fairfax County and Alexandria, grabbing them from behind and sometimes punching and molesting them before running away. After logging 11 cases in six months, police finally identified a suspect.
David Lee Foltz Jr., who had served 17 years in prison for rape, lived near the crime scenes. To figure out if Foltz was the assailant, police pulled out their secret weapon: They put a Global Positioning System device on Foltz’s van, which allowed them to track his movements.
Police said they soon caught Foltz dragging a woman into a wooded area in Falls Church. After his arrest on Feb. 6, the string of assaults suddenly stopped. The break in the case relied largely on a crime-fighting tool they would rather not discuss.
If GPS tracking can help the police get a felon off the streets, making them safer, what do you think it can do for you?
Teens are notoriously bad drivers. They speed; the perform jack rabbit starts and sudden stops; they take turns too quickly; they change lanes without signaling; they text while driving – this is all dangerous activity that could end up getting them and their fellow drivers killed.
The strange part about all this is that this is generally not how they drive when you are with them. When you are sitting in the car right next to them the last thing on their mind is answering a friends text message. Instead, they drive with both hands on the steering wheel, eyes are fixed on the road, and they are well within the speed limit. Teens drive recklessly and dangerously when parents are not around.
So how can parents concerned about their teen’s driving habits be with a teen, watching their driving habits, even when they are not in the vehicle with them – through GPS tracking for cars.
I am a firm proponent of telling your teen that you are tracking there car if you do decide to do so. My reasons for feeling this way are three fold: 1) the device will not act as a deterrent of bad driving practices if they don’t know it is there, 2) it is much easier and most effective to discipline your child when they are fully aware of the consequences of their actions, and 3) you won’t be violating the trust of your teen by doing something “sneaky” to them.
Tracking As Deterrent
Your teen won’t act like you are in the car with them if they think that you don’t know how they are driving. The whole point of the tracking device is to prevent your teen from getting into a car wreck because they were doing something stupid behind the wheel. The reasoning behind this will go something like this:
Premise 1: Your teen drives safely when you are in the car with them.
Premise 2: Your teen, at times, drives unsafely when you are not in the car with them.
Premise 3: Having GPS tracking for cars in your teen’s vehicle is like having you in the car.
Conclusion: Your teen will drive like you are in the car with them if they know that the GPS tracking device for cars in the vehicle.
This is a rather simple logic expression where the premises seem to be mostly true. The only one that will have any difficulty being true is Premise 3. Just because the teen knows that you are tracking their every move in the car does not mean that they are always going to act like you are tracking them in the car. They will forget about it, or get caught up in a moment, or take a risk that you won’t check the logs for that specific moment. It is in these instances where we as concerned parents must use discipline in conjunction with the car tracking device.
Tracking and Discipline
One hallmark of good parenting is laying an effective foundation for discipline by making sensible, enforceable, and fair rules. This one of the most important components of using GPS tracking to effectively monitor your teen’s driving behaviors.
Here’s why: you have installed your GPS tracking device in the car, set up good rules that are sensible and fair – the punishment is commensurate with the specific bad driving behavior, but your teen still ends up going 85 mph in a 65 mph zone. You see, they simply forgot that you know what they do when they drive. The music they were listening too or the conversation they were having on the phone overwhelmed their developing brain and they were unable to remember to keep the speed in check.
Luckily, nothing terrible happened to them or to another driver – but how can a teen realize that they are being tracked? One way to do so is to punish bad behavior. Because they broke the speed limit rules that your family put in place they are required to pay the penalty for doing so. Get creative in the rules that you have for certain offenses and only use the suspension of driving privileges for especially grievous offenses.
I think we all pretty much understand how to punish poor driving, but have you considered the other side of the coin? How are you rewarding your teen for safe driving? Rewards are often much better at motivating a teen toward right action than punishment, since punishment is primarily backward looking while reward is forward thinking.
In almost all cases, a mixture of reward and punishment is most effective at training a person to behave a certain way while driving. You can get creative with what you pick and be sure to spend time thinking about what is going to work best for you, your teen, and the safety of other drivers on the road.
Tracking and Trust
Here is a quick video about how the use of secret GPS tracking on your teens car can lead to bad reactions from teens (it is one of our the featured GPS tracking videos):
In my opinion, these parents were well within their responsibilities to attach a secret GPS tracking to their teen’s truck – it is their property (the truck, not the teen) and they do have a responsibility to raise their teen in a safe way – but I just don’t think it is a very effective way to be a responsible parent.
The reactions of this teenage boy are classic. He denies wrong doing, shows signs of anger, and generally feels that his parents violated his rights. They didn’t violate them, but he sure feels like they did. It is my opinion that he is really just upset that his parents tracked him without his knowledge. He was surprised when he found out that they knew his secret (driving over 95 mph!) when he didn’t know they had a way of knowing that. His expectations were wrong and he responded with anger.
Now imagine this situation if the parents had told their teenage son that they were going to track his car to ensure his safety, recover their vehicle if it was stolen, and help them enforce some of the family’s expected driving habits. Sure, he might have put up a fuss at having that conversation and expressed his desire not to have the device installed, but once it was installed he would have know that any unsafe driving practices would be recorded.
He probably would not have driven 95 mph in the first place, and if he did he would have know that his parents were going to find out and punish him according to the rules of the family. This might have been unpleasant, but at least he would have know it was coming!
Devices to Track A Teens Car
One device that will could be considered top of the line for this type of tracking is the LiveWire Unlimited™ Fleet/Car GPS Tracker. It is a permanent solution that is installed inside your car and can be customized to fit you needs.
Another avenue that you could try is tracking your teen’s cell phone. Since most teens carry their cell phone with them everywhere this can be a cheap and cost effective way to get a grasp on your teen’s driving habits.
Both of these option can be very effective at monitor your teens driving habits.
It is never okay to cheat on a significant other, never. So when you suspect your lover of cheating I am of the opinion that the one who is being cheated on has a lot of leverage when it comes to being able to verify if their suspicions are true or not. They can monitor all electronic communications (including cell phone call logs, text messages, emails, and instant messages), track their car with GPS, talk with their friends, make unannounced visits, inspect their clothes, and even install cameras around the house or in a vehicle to help monitor their activity.
Knowing where there car is is particularly important in catching a cheating spouse, but only if the cheating goes on at locations where the individual does not normally attend. If, for example, they are cheating at work while they should be at work then a spouse who is GPS tracking their car will have no way of using this information to catch them cheating.
But if they are going to a hotel, or their lover’s apartment, or they say that they are going one place to hang out with their buddies and then they go somewhere else and you have a GPS device installed in their car then you are going to know about their indiscretion and be able to catch them in their lying, cheating ways. And, since GPS technology is becoming even more reliable than it already was, you will have a very solid case when you go to confront them with the issue, divorce them or go to the location of their trysts.
With GPS tracking for cars you get back into the driver seat of your relationship and take back the power and the trust that your partner tried to steal from you by cheating on you.
A good way to improve the performance of a fleet of vehicles is to install some GPS tracking devices in them. This will have a positive impact on several of your fleet’s performance metrics over the course of 2 years, according to an Aberdeen group study on the impact of GPS fleet tracking on small businesses. Among the most impressive metrics to increase over the two year test period was the number of service calls logged by company employees and a marked increase in a drivers ability to make on time service calls and deliveries.
According to the study, small business (defined as vehicle fleets that consisted of 1 to 10 cars, trucks, or vans) increased the number of work orders that they were able to complete by an astonishing 25%. How would you like to make a $500 initial investment with some reoccurring fees to get 25% more out your work force? I think most employers would love this arrangement.
But how does GPS tracking for cars improve this critical fleet performance metric so drastically? I think the main two reasons that it works so well is that it keeps workers honest and it helps streamline transit times.
It should be obvious to everyone that workers do not really work for 8 full hours even when they punch that in on their time card. Sometimes they take breaks when they aren’t supposed to, push lunch 15 minutes longer than they should, or end work early because they “won’t” be able to finish a job before their shift is over. When all is said and done, most workers (according to a 2007 survey at Salary.com) waste around 20% of their day doing no work related activities while they are on the clock. That is a staggering statistic and seems to explain a lot of the increased productivity that GPS tracking devices engender in small fleets. Workers simply stop wasting time when they know that the boss is watching.
The additional 5% increase in worker productivity is probably related to the fact that workers are able to find the most efficient, time-effective route when traveling to work locations or delivery destinations.
Another use of GPS tracking for cars is for personal efficiency. This is probably not the most cost-effective thing for an individual to do, but if you want real-time GPS tracking of your own movement there are probably devices that will work out great for you.
One subset of people that might find this interesting are off-roaders and street racers – people whose activities take them off beaten paths or who want to be able to relive past experiences that they have had out on the road or off in the middle of nowhere. Real-time tracking is also useful for these individuals if something where to happen to them on a ride and they needed immediate medical attention – all it would take is a quick look at the GPS information provided by the tracking device and help would be on the way.
Again, this isn’t going to be a cost effective way of getting this information – but for some it might be appealing.
Update May 2009: It appears that the T Trac XS GPS Car Tracking System is not longer available from Brickhouse Security.
This GPS tracking system is very popular – with over 200,000 devices in use in 18 countries being serviced by Brickhouse security. The reason for this is because it is the #1 GPS tracking system utilized by the police and private investigators all over the country. Some of the reasons for its popularity with these individuals is the device has a 3 months battery life when you have 4 AA batteries installed. Another key feature is its small size – 5.78″ x 2.99″ x 1.44″ – and light weight – 7 ounces with 4 AA Alkaline Batteries – making it highly concealable on the outside or inside of a car. This device is excellent for covert GPS tracking, keeping tabs on a spouse suspected of cheating, or secretly monitoring an employees activity.
The service provided by Brickhouse Security is top notch and the device comes with a 1 year warranty. You can find out more about this device or make a purchase here: T-Trac XS Internet GPS Car Tracking System
LiveWire Unlimited™ Fleet/Car GPS Tracker
Unlike the T-Trac, the LiveWire tracker hooks directly into the vehicle. This means that as long as the car has power – so does your GPS tracking unit. You will never need to change the devices batteries, which is a great plus for long-term tracking applications like teen driver monitoring and company car tracking.
One particularly useful feature of the LiveWire is that it comes with Skype integration. This means that on the tracking interface on your web browser that lets you see vehicle activity all you need to do to call the driver of the vehicle through your Skype account is click on their vehicle – you will automatically be patched in to the driver’s cell phone. This is a very powerful for those who would use this device for business purposes.
To learn more about the LiveWire tracker or to make an inquiry about a purchase of the device, you should contact the manufacturer of the LiveWire Unlimited™ Fleet/Car GPS Tracker.
In May of 2009, two very important cases came before appellate courts in Wisconsin and New York that had a direct effect on the use of this type of GPS tracking by law enforcement officials. The first ruling to be issued came from Wisconsin where judges ruled unanimously that police could use GPS tracking on cars without a warrant.
The difference in the rulings by the two courts points to the fact that this new technology is making waves in the legal world and the courts and legislatures must create new guidelines to help protect the right of citizens while allowing police to make use of technology in a way that saves money and helps them put more criminals behind bars.
The use of GPS tracking for cars has a lot of potential both infringe on perceived rights and improve law enforcement – but making sure that later is accomplished while the former is avoided is a pretty tough task.
“Blue Dodger, this is Home Base. Do you read me!? Over.” The radio gives a slight crackle as the voice of Home Base abruptly ends with a click. You slowly touch the radio button on your vest and respond to Home Base, “Home Base, this is Blue Dodger. I copy. Over.” You feel a slight tickle of excitement course through your veins as you await the message. You know that Home Base is going to be giving you something good. You have installed a covert GPS tracking device on a target vehicle and Home Base is going to be giving you the coordinates for you to track it down and discover what they are up to.
“Blue Dodger, we have the vehicle parked outside 13141 West Palm Avenue. Head on over and report back your findings.” This is your very first covert op and you feel a surge of adrenaline wash over you like a shore breaking wave, smoothly rattling the content of your chest. The drive to the location isn’t long and you soon find yourself on a normally quiet residential street with cars lined up bumper to bumper on both sides of the street. You find the 1995 Teal Corolla that you attached your covert GPS tracking device to parked exactly where Home Base said it was, but the car is empty.
“Home Base, this is Blue Dodger. I’ve found the vehicle, but its clean. I’ll park and see if I can get a visual. Over.”
“That’s a Roger, Blue Dodger. Report in when you have a visual.”
You get out of the car and park. Your palms begin to sweet as you slowly walk through the lamp lit street, keeping a low profile while trying to observe as much as you can. As you make your way back to the Corolla you notice the sound of loud, thumping music coming from the other end of the street. Without any sign of activity at 13141 West Palm Avenue you make your way toward the music.
As you draw closer you begin to hear the din of voices, laughing and the steady thumping of base. It looks like the driver of the Corolla may be at this party. Unfortunately, you don’t have your party threads on and the age of the crowd is significantly below your own – but you press on anyway knowing that you need to find the driver of the Corolla before it is too late. You radio back to Home Base, “This is Blue Dodger, I’m going in.”
The music inside the house is deafening and it is all you can do to hug a wall and work your way around the interior of the house. There is no communication with Home Base now. You scan the crowd looking for the driver you were tracking but they are nowhere to be found. Then, all of a sudden, you see in the other room a the long blond hair of the driver you have been trying to covertly track. She is standing talking to a man several years her elder, his face stubbled with a healthy five o’clock shadow.
You make your move on the target.
But before you do, you need to create a diversion to get her away from Mr. Five O’Clock. You pull out your trusty cell phone that has been relaying your position to Home Base via GPS. You send a simple text message, using your full qwerty keyboard because that is how you roll, with the message,
create diversion. call target. test time
In just a moment you see Long Blond Hair reach into her bag and pull out a glowing, vibrating cell phone. She looks up at Mr. Five O’Clock shadow and seems to say something. He smiles and waves as she leaves the room. She walks past you in a hurry, but you are still holding the wall tight and she doesn’t notice. You had anticipated that since the room is dark except for the constant flashing of mutli-colored lights.
Long Blond Hair leaves the house at a run and is soon 50 feet away from the house when she puts the still glowing and vibrating cell phone to her ear. “Hello,” her voice sounds strong and confident. She pauses for just a second, then with an oune of frustration in her voice she says, “What do you want? I’m watching a movie at Katie’s house.” You walk up behind her and tap her on the shoulder.
She turns around with a sudden look of horror on her face. “Dad,” she says with a little fear in her voice, “What are you doing here?”
“I think the question is, honey, what are you doing here?”
If you want to go with traditionally covert GPS devices then you are going to need to fork out some significant cash. Round the clock monitoring and real-time tracking capabilities do not come cheap – so expect to shell out $100s just for the device itself. Then you are also going to need to pay up for a service fee as well so you can get access to your tracking information. You might be able to build your own system out of one of the open source GPS tracking devices that have skematics on the Internet, but then you need some high quality GPS tracking software as well to make sure that your data is getting stored and displayed properly. There is open source software for this too, but you will have to trade some of your precious time to learn how to use it.
In the end analysis, almost anyone with enough money is going to have access to tracking with GPS – and you don’t even need that much money anymore to get some really cool, cover GPS tracking devices.
If you were one of the people scared out of your mind that some states like Wisconsin allow warrantless GPS tracking of cars then you can breath a sigh of relief in knowing that not all the courts in our nation agree. New York, in a recent court decision, ruled that police in the state must have a warrant when placing a GPS tracking device on a suspects car – joining Washington and Oregon who already have rulings in places ensuring this.
The New York court differed from the Wisconsin one in one major way – the New York court seemed to think that GPS tracking was in fact different from physical surveillance or other technological forms of tracking (like a radio frequency emitter). The court wrote:
Here, we are not presented with the use of a mere beeper to facilitate visual surveillance during a single trip. GPS is a vastly different and exponentially more sophisticated and powerful technology that is easily and cheaply deployed and has virtually unlimited and remarkably precise tracking capability. […] Constant, relentless tracking of anything is now not merely possible but entirely practicable …. GPS is not a mere enhancement of human sensory capacity, it facilitates a new technological perception of the world in which the situation of any object may be followed and exhaustively recorded over … a practically unlimited period. The potential for a similar capture of information or “seeing” by law enforcement would require, at a minimum, millions of additional police officers and cameras on every street lamp.
The majority opinion of the court is trying to make a distinction between the information gathered from physical surveillance of technologically assisted surveillance (the beeper from the 1983 Wisconsin case used as precedent in both this case the more recent Wisconsin case) and that made possible by a GPS tracking device. The main thrust seems to be that in order to gather similar information on an individual you would need “millions of additional police.”
The court then goes on to discuss the privacy issues involved in GPS tracking cases:
One need only consider what the police may learn, practically effortlessly, from planting a single device. The whole of a person’s progress through the world, into both public and private spatial spheres, can be charted and recorded over lengthy periods …. Disclosed in the data retrieved from the transmitting unit, nearly instantaneously with the press of a button on the highly portable receiving unit, will be trips the indisputably private nature of which takes little imagination to conjure: trips to the psychiatrist, the plastic surgeon, the abortion clinic, the AIDS treatment center, the strip club, the criminal defense attorney, the by-the-hour motel, the union meeting, the mosque, synagogue or church, the gay bar and on and on. What the technology yields and records … is a highly detailed profile … of where we go, … of our associations — political, religious, amicable and amorous, to name only a few — and of the pattern of our professional and avocational pursuits. When multiple GPS devices are utilized, even more precisely resolved inferences about our activities are possible. And … it will be possible to tell from … who we are and are not with, when we are and are not with them, and what we do and do not carry on our persons — to mention just a few of the highly feasible empirical configurations.
This judgment reads to me that the court made its decision to deny warrantless GPS tracking because it would give the police a lot of information about a suspects activities and would be much, much cheaper than putting a “tail” on the suspect.
Personally, I can’t seem to make myself agree with the courts rulings. I am not a lawyer nor am I trained in the law, but it seems to me like the information gather by a GPS tracking device attached to a car could be gather by a physical tail on a suspect – but just at a much greater cost.
A police officer could tell if a person drove their car to a mosque, or a church, or a bar, or a friends house, or to work, or to a soccer game, or to their child’s recital. All this information would be easily accessible to any person capable of seeing and all of it would be occurring in public space – where people have no fundamental right to privacy.
Granted, GPS tracking a cell phone could provide police with a much larger amount of information that would track a person’s movement’s within completely private places – such as a doctors office, or a church building, or a private club – so perhaps the court’s decision is taking these into consideration as well.
However, I am concerned with the way their ruling could affect the police’s ability to easily and precisely put a tail on a suspects vehicle. GPS tracking for cars will only really track the movements of an individual’s car in public places – something that seems very reasonable for the police to be able to track with GPS. It is much more cost effective and gives them an opportunity to utilize their skilled officers in other tasks.
In the end, whether or not GPS tracking for cars will require a warrant or not is going to be decided in cases like this all over the country by Appellate courts who are going to differ on what the nature of GPS tracking is and what that means for a person’s 4th Amendment rights.
For some reason, once our children hit their teenage years they can become rebellious and obstinate, rejecting the care and oversight of their parents. Not all teens fall into this trap of our culture, but even the most well behaved teen is going to get into some trouble now and then as they experiment with their new found freedom and grow into mature adults. We all make mistakes on our road to maturity.
GPS tracking can be a useful tool in the hands of a concerned or watchful parent – and it doesn’t have to be used only to monitor the behavioral issues a teenager may be expressing. These devices can help empower parents to give their teens even more freedom once they become aware of how careful, law abiding, and respectful their teenagers are. The information gathered by a device could also aid a parent in making an informed decision about about dangers presented by poor driving habits, skipping school, or the neighborhoods that life can take their kids into. Despite their larger size, high mental capabilities, and maturing bodies, teenagers are still children in many respects and parents still feel a degree of responsibility to keep their child safe.
If you have a teen with behavioral problems or you just like to know where your child is for safety’s sake then there are some real solutions for you and your family that can included GPS tracking. A solution’s success for your situation will undoubtedly depend on your own specific needs and desires, so be sure that you think about your solution carefully before purchasing a device. These things can be expensive and you don’t want to waste money on something when other relational steps could be taken to solve the problem.
Learning to drive has long been a “coming of age” event for teens and driving represents a significant portion of their travel time. If your teen is anything like the one’s I’ve met then as soon as they are able they are hounding their parents for the keys at every opportunity. They want to drive to and from school; to drive to their friends house; to go out to the movies. They want to go out on dates. They even want you to pay for gas!
What they are essentially after is the freedom to do what they want when they want to. This is a pretty normal thing for teenagers to experience since they are just at the beginning stages of becoming an adult and will try to emulate many of the things adults can do with their freedoms.
Many teens even have their own car these days; given to them by parents who enjoy the freedom that having a driving, mobile teen provides. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it can create some challenges in keeping tabs on your kid if they are (secretly) rebellious. In some ways, when a teen has a car it becomes much harder to know where they are, even if they are obedient and well behaved, and can create a safety nightmare for parents prone to worry.
How Does GPS Tracking A Car Work?
Tracking a car is fundamentally no different from tracking anything else with GPS, except that there are devices that have been manufactured and marketed specifically for this purpose. These devices are sometimes referred to as data pushers or real-time tracking devices. They work by gathering and calculating location data from the Global Positioning Satellites orbiting the earth and transmitting that data via radio or cellular frequencies. Your tracking provider takes this data, makes it look pretty, and makes it available to you from a (generally) web-based interface.
Your GPS device will be able to report the vector of the vehicle (both speed and direction). Many companies will also keep the data sent to it by the tracker and organize it into a useful “history” report. A driving “history” can be very helpful to a parent trying to verify a teen’s story about their whereabouts or driving practices. They won’t be able to so much as speed without you knowing it! And that is a big deal when it comes to keeping them safe.
What Are The Limitations On Tracking A Teen By Car?
There are some limitations to this method of tracking. The first is that it only works on teenagers who are legally eligible to drive. In most states this is at the age of 16 1/2 while in others it can be as old as 18. By the time they are 18 most teens should be sufficiently mature to make good decisions about how fast they drive, who they hang out with, and what activities they participate in without their parent’s watchful eye hanging over them.
However, that does not mean that a GPS tracking device installed in the car is not going to be useful – it just might be less of a parenting tool and more and an emergency tool. It can still help you locate a stolen car. It can still help you find the location of the car in case of a medical emergency. It will still help you find the scene of a crash or a lost vehicle. It just might not be used to make sure your teen isn’t speeding.
The second limitation is that it only works when your teen is using the car. This is probably a much bigger limitation than most people realize. Cars can easily be ditched by savvy teens or sinister assailants, negating the effectiveness of the tracker for the purpose that you intended.
Imagine for a second that the teen you want to track is aware that their car has a GPS unit installed in it. They tell you that they are going over to a friend’s to hang out and watch some teen flick like Epic Movie. However, what they tell you is not really what they are going to do. They have really planned on going to a drinking party with this friend in the friend’s automobile, leaving the car with the GPS tracking unit safely at the friend’s house.
When you check up on your teen in your web-based account that provides real-time data on their whereabouts you find that the car is at the friend’s house. You breathe a sigh of relief, but your teen is out making some bad peer-to-teen choice behaviors at the drinking party and you will be none the wiser. That is where the next teen tracking device comes into play – the cell phone.
Tracking Your Teen’s Cell Phone
This is probably going to be the most useful and the most widely used method of using tracking a position of a teenager with GPS. Unlike cars, cell phones appear to be in the hands of 99% of teenagers. This is an unprecedented proliferation, but is not surprising given how useful they are for communicating between family members and for entertaining their users.
Most teens will use their phones to text friends, others will use it to take pictures, others to chat, and still others to browse the internet or update their Facebook page. But now parents can use the same cell phones that are already in their teen’s hands to track their whereabouts and keep them safe.
Tapping Into To The Power of Cell Phones To Track Your Teen
Because cellar phones are everywhere, big wigs in the telecommunications industry decided that they wanted to compete with GPS companies like Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan in the navigation market with their cell phones. They have since made some pretty significant inroads here because GPS technology and the radio positioning technology that cell phones use works off the same basic mathematical principle – trilateration.
Once that market was penetrated, cell phone providers realized that they could leverage the technology that they produced for GPS navigation for GPS tracking. This birthed specialized phones designed specifically for kids that would enable parents and law enforcement to recover missing children by tracking their cell phone.
Many cell phone providers now offer plans that let you begin to track your child’s position information. These planes also record vector information (speed and location), fulfilling one of the most important features of a car tracking device discussed above. Cell phones are generally going to be with your child at all times, thus avoiding some of the limitations of car based tracking. Cell phones have the added feature of allowing parents to verify that your child is with their phone simply by calling them up – their voice on the other end of the line is the proof.
Another great benefit is that your teen has every incentive to keep their cell phone charged and ready for use – they want to use it to talk to their friends! This means you won’t have to change the tracking device’s battery because your teenager has a very large incentive to do it for you. Its a win-win for both of you.
Cell Phone Tracking Limitations
Despite cell phone tracking’s relative superiority over car based tracking there are still some serious limitations to tracking your child in this fashion. The first is that in some circumstances – like abduction – your child is probably going to get their cell phone taken away by their abductor. This is probably the most dire of situations where you would want the tracking device to work perfectly, but because of the knowledge that cell phones can be used by the authorities to locate individuals it is probably going to be the first thing searched for and gotten ride of by an assailant.
The other limitation is that cell phones do not always receive signals from cell towers. This is particularly problematic in remote areas where cell phone penetration is less established. If a phone is unable to make a connection to its network then any location data gathered by the phone cannot be communicated to you, the parent. The data may be still be stored on the phone, but it does not do you any good until you can get your hands on it.
In the end though, the cell phone is probably the cheapest, easiest, and most reliable of all the tracking options available to parents on the market today. It should definitely be a strong contender in your quest to use GPS tracking for your teen.
Tracking Your Teen With Covert GPS
The last method I am aware of is using more covert methods of tracking your teen. This is different than tracking the car they use or utilizing their cell phone to keep tabs on them. While you may track them in these ways without them knowing (i.e. in a covert way) I like to think of covert tracking as something rather different.
It is more spy-like in my mind and has more to do with sticking a GPS tracker in a shoe, or a bag, or an iPod. These types of trackers are designed specifically to avoid detection – by the person who the device is tracking or by someone who would steal the asset or abduct the assets bearer.
Covert GPS devices are small, compact, battery operated, and extremely powerful.
What Types of Covert GPS Are Available?
You’d be surprised at the large number of GPS tracking devices that fall into this category. They can range from stuffed animals to watches to shoes to jackets. Almost anything a teenager carries can be turned into a set of watchful eyes.
When thinking about where you want to install a covert device it is important that you pick items that your teen uses every day, like shoes or a winter jacket, since these devices will have the highest probability of staying on your child no matter what happens to them.
Why Choose Covert GPS Tracking For Teens?
The only reason to go with covert devices is if your teenager they are at high risk for abduction and you want to be able to locate them quickly and efficiently. This is the situation when cell phones simply won’t do since they will be quickly destroyed by attackers.
Another good reason to use covert devices is that they can go without detection for longer periods of time – but they do suffer from battery life limitations so be careful how you use them. The last thing you want to do it so get caught while you change the tracker’s battery!
Should I Be Secret Or Open About Tracking My Teen?
Now that we have discussed some of the options that can help you keep track of your teen it is really important that we evaluate any moral problems with using GPS tracking on a teenager. Is it wrong to track them at all? If I think it is right, do I need to tell them that I am doing it or can I ‘keep it secret?’
I think that each person is going to end up answering this question differently, but my take on it is this – it is okay to track a teen without their knowledge. This is also my answer when thinking about tracking a child. It is an okay and acceptable practice given certain circumstances.
My reasons for this is threefold:
Parents have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their child. It is even my opinion that parents are supposed to protect their children even if the child expresses a desire not to be protected. If a teen is going to engage in activity that directly affects their safety – such as speeding, drinking, doing drugs, having sex before marriage – then it is a parents obligation to take measures that help them ensure their teenager’s safety.
Teens are still under the care of their parents. The main source of the parents obligation to their teen is that the teen still lives under the care and provision of the parent. If the teen was self-sufficient I could definitely see an argument for restricting a parents right to know the location of a child at all times. However, this is often not the case for children between the ages of 13 and 18 – and is often not even the case for kids between 18 and 22. They often still rely heavily on their parents for financial and moral support.
Many teens do not own their cell phones and cars. At the very least you have to give parents the right to track their assets, right? The car is the property of the parents so they should know where it is and how it is being driven. The cell phone is paid for and provided by the parents, so they have a stake in where it is and how it is treated. The fact that they are also able to track their teen’s location is merely a consequence of the teen using something that the parent owns. If they want to avoid this type of tracking then they should buy their own phone and car.
With all that said, I don’t think it is always in the parent’s or the teen’s best interest to keep the GPS tracking a secret. In many, many instances it will work out much better for both parties if the device is clearly explained and accounted for. Tracking teen with GPS is just a tool in the hands of parents and teenagers to make life safer for everyone – communication should always be clear and honest where appropriate. Without that, no amount of GPS tracking is going to do teens or parents any good.
Check out one of the smallest and most powerful GPS trackers for children: AmberAlert GPS
If you have ever found yourself wishing that you knew at any moment where your child was with an accuracy of up to 3 meters, then GPS tracking for kids might be something that you want to take a look at. GPS has been around since the 80s when it was released for public use (before the Global Positioning Satellite system had been reserved solely for the military), but has only recently been made available for use by private persons for the tracking of the people closest to them – their children.
Before GPS tracking devices were simply too bulky to be of much use on a child – they were either too heavy to be safely and continuously carried, too large to be of much use for covert, safety oriented tracking, or they were too inaccurate to be of much help to consumers or their kids. All this has changed in the last 5-10 years as technology has become increasingly smaller and more efficient.
Let me explain this with a similar bit of technological breakthrough that we have had in the same amount of time – namely that of computer storage. 10 years ago it would have a pipe dream to have a desktop computer with 160 GB of storage space – now iPods come with that much memory. In the same way that computer technology in general has advanced so rapidly, GPS tracking technology has made leaps and bounds as well – becoming increasingly smaller, more power, more efficient, and more accurate.
All of these changes have been good for parents looking to keep tabs on their children with a technological solution. But this begs the question, why should any child be tracked with GPS?
Reasons to Choose GPS Tracking For Kids
As far as I can tell, there are three main reasons to use GPS tracking for your kids: safety concerns, behavior problems, and paranoia.
Safety is probably the main reason most parents are going to want to use GPS to keep tabs on their children. They want something that will quickly and accurately locate their child at a moments notice. Is the child supposed to be at home but hasn’t been heard from in over an hour? Are they supposed to be at Tim’s house to hang out after school and do some homework but a call to Tim’s parents reveals that your child never arrived? Do you worry that something could happen to your child as they wait for you after baseball practice in the park by the canyon? If any of these situations have happened to you then you know that you wish there was some way to find out where you child is right away. GPS tracking for kids can provide accurate and reliable information for you in a way that is actionable and useful.
Take a moment and imagine that your child did not come home on time like you were expecting, fear is gripping you as you wait by the window for their arrival. It could be that they simply hung around too long after school playing tether ball with their friends or took too long in the park as they cut across it on their way home. You want to find out where your daughter is right now. You run to your computer and you log in to your child’s GPS tracking watch provider to get a look at their position. Your heart breathes a sigh of relief as you see that they are on their way home traveling at 2 mph about 2 blocks from home – they must have lingered too long at the park.
Now imagine that same situation where you find that your child is traveling 65 mph on a major highway heading away from home? You’d dial 911 in an instant and you could be able to give the police some seriously useful information that would likely lead to the recovery of your child – all thanks to a GPS tracking device in your child’s backpack.
Another important reason to use GPS tracking for kids in some circumstance is behavioral problems or mental disabilities. A child that is prone to wander because they suffer from some sort of behavioral or mental disorder is someone that you want to find and find quickly. Short trips to the supermarket, or family vacations, or even simple trips to the park can become living nightmares as you search frantically for the child that has wandered off and slipped out of your site. Child locators, a certain type of GPS tracking device, work great in this situation where quick feedback without the use of computer is necessary. They are not always the best solution for families since they do have some issues and cell phones are becoming internet capable in a big way – making the obstacle of internet access to use location information much smaller.
And the final reason to get a GPS device to track your child is because you are paranoid and need to find someway to calm your own fears just a little bit. The fact is that the vast majority of children have no need for GPS tracking. They will go through their lives and never need the safety of always having their location just a moment away from being known by their parent. Running a little late, being alone at a park after baseball practice, and playing hooky with a friend instead of being where they are supposed to be are all normal activities for kids to be doing at some point in their life. You probably did the same thing and your parents didn’t need a GPS device to keep tabs on you.
However, if you are person who works in Mexico City or some other place that routinely has kidnappings then it might be a good idea to get a GPS tracking device for your children so that when Man on Fire happens to you and your family, your Denzel Washington will be able to kick the crap out of the bad kidnappers who stole your Dakota Fanning.
Now that we have established three legitimate reasons to go out and purchase some sort of GPS tracking device for your child, it begs the question, “What devices can I get that will provide GPS tracking for kids?”
Device That Use GPS Tracking For Kids
There are three main devices that you are going to find around the web and in stores that will assist you in keeping tabs on your child: gps tracking watches, covert GPS trackers, and kids GPS phones.
GPS tracking watches are a small, reliable, and kid friendly option for parents seeking to use GPS tracking with their children. These devices are exactly what their name sounds like – they are a GPS tracking device that fits on the wrist of your child. There are a couple of different brands available, but none of them are household names (certainly not Garmin, TomTom, or Magellan if that is what you were hoping for – though Garmin does offer a fitness GPS watch). Some of the watches look a little funky, but in general they do provide you with what you are expecting.
In general, a GPS watch for kids is going to look a little bulky on their wrist, have some extravagantly ugly colors, and will probably throw up warning signals to any would be villain to get rid of the watch ASAP. These devices are probably not as easy at GPS phones to get your child to use, but being attached at the wrist may make them less likely to be randomly lost.
The next option for parents to consider is covert GPS tracking for kids. Again, there are a variety of different implementations to consider when going the covert route. Do I go with a GPS in the shoe, teddy bear, coat, or backpack? Do I go with a build in device or do I find something that I sew or attach myself? How you answer these questions will determine what product you purchase.
The amount of information that you are going to get with a more covert approach to tracking is the same as what you would find with a a tracking watch, but the idea is that these covert trackers will escape detection for a very significant period of time. If the device is hidden well enough in a “necessary” piece of equipment or apparel then you are almost certain that you will be able to find your child in any and all circumstances.
And finally, we have kids GPS phones. These are kids cell phones that have integrated GPS technology so that they can get an accurate read on the phones position under almost any circumstance provided that the phone is on.
This combination of cell phone and GPS technology is very powerful. A GPS signal will be able to give position information if the phone cannot use cell towers to establish a location, and cell towers can establish a location when a direct line of site with the sky has been obstructed by a car trunk, cement wall, or mound of dirt. The cell phones power is in its usability in almost every circumstance.
This power is also its greatest weakness when considering it as a GPS tracking device for kids. Everyone and there mother knows that cell phones can be used to communicate position information to the authorities. This means that it is often the first thing to go if your child is in an emergency situation. Kids GPS cell phones must be kept quiet and used very wisely by your child if it is to be effective at recovering them from something horrible.
In most normal conditions, kids GPS phones are great because they also let you talk directly with your child. If they are late coming home, simply call them and ask them where they are – if what they tell you is different from what you computer is saying then you can deal with your child as you see fit. The power to do so is now in your hands.
A Final Word On GPS Tracking For Kids
One thing that I haven’t mentioned yet but is very pertinent to our discussion here is the GPS tracking for kids costs money. You are going to have to go in up front for a tracking device (whether it is a GPS tracking watch, covert GPS tracking device, or a kids GPS phone) and you are probably going to be hit with a reoccurring service charge every month to be able to use the tracking capability on the device. This can add up to big money for a family already strapped for cash.
My advice is to think very carefully about using GPS tracking for kids and to only use it if it makes real sense given your family’s unique set of circumstances.