Sunday, March 14, 2010

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

When I started my new job, one of my biggest concerns was losing track of my kids. Having so many, you’d think I would be fairly good at that, right? And I guess I am, considering I have never actually have lost one of them, but I seriously live in fear of it every day.

I think that fear dates back to when Jerame was just a little guy. Joe and I were at Blockbuster looking for a movie and I set Jerame’s carrier down at my feet. A few minutes later I heard someone say, “Who’s baby is this?” I looked up and was instantly horrified – I had been methodically moving down the wall of videos, looking for a movie and hadn’t been moving Jerame along with me. There he was, still in his carrier, about 20 feet away.

I know moving 20 feet away from a child doesn’t exactly count as “losing” him, but just that feeling that I had moved on without thinking of where he was completely freaked me out. And I’ve worried ever since that it might happen again, this time on a larger scale.

So with Joe and I both working full-time and the boys having very busy lives of their own, I was more than a little freaked out that something – someone! – would fall through the cracks. Especially since Cam would be home about an hour and a half by himself and all three of them would be here another half hour together before Joe got home.

Then we stumbled upon an awesome little gem of a service from our cell phone provider, Sprint.

(Sprint did NOT pay me to write this, but they should have since I’m about to RAVE.)

Sprint offers a “Family Locator” service for the ridiculously low amount of $5 per month. You go online either at your desk or on your phone, click a button and find out exactly where you kid’s phone – and assumingly your kid – is at that exact moment.

The first time I tested this out, Cam was about a block away at his friend’s. About 10 seconds after I hit the “locate Cam” button, an aerial photo of Dylan's house popped up on the screen. I may have squealed in joy. I felt like Big Brother and James Bond all at once.

What’s even more awesome is that you can set alerts to let you know if you kid doesn’t show up where you expect. For example, Cam should be home by 3:00 p.m. If his phone doesn’t register as being at our address, we get a text message letting us know he’s off the grid. That's pretty convenient, and keeps me from having a nervous breakdown if Cam forgets to call me to let me know he's home safe and sound.

A few times a day – more if the kids are particularly busy – I go online and check up on them. Yup, Cameron’s at the middle school. Yup, Jerame is at the elementary school. Brandon doesn’t have a cell phone yet, but since he goes to the same school as Jerame, and Jerame is in charge of keeping an eye out for Brandon, Brandon must be there too.

Sigh. All is right in the world. I'm seriously considering having some sort of device implanted in Evan so I can track him too.

The little part of me that is still a teenager feels sort of bad for my kids. Right now this Family Locator service is helpful for safety alone. But I can see that one day we will probably use it for more sinister reasons. Cam said he’s going to the library, huh? We’ll see about that…

Does "Family Locator" infringe on the boys’ privacy a little bit? Maybe. Does it replace having trust in your kids and believing them when they tell you where they’re going to be? Probably. The good news for Joe and I is that we really do trust our kids implicitly. As of right now they tell us the truth.

But it also doesn’t hurt for them to know that we have a LoJack on them, just in case they ever decide to pull a fast one.


Tracy (AKA The Mayor!) said...

OMG, I sooooo WANT that!! My oldest is almost 12, just got his babysitting course, & now has a cell for the purposes of starting to venture the neighbourhood on his own, & for watching his little sisters while I run errands or drive one here or there etc. I have NO problem infringing on his privacy at this age, if it helps keep him safe!! I need to see if I can get this in Toronto, TOO COOL....especially when my daughters start venturing out on their own!! :-D

Linda said...

I am all about keeing track of the kids! That is awesome! I will have to see if t-mobile offers anything like that. And I thought the monitor into the playroom at the gym was cool!

Yankee Girl said...

I am not a parent, but according to my mother, we were not allowed any privacy until we were 18. That being said, unless your kids are 18 then you are not infringing on their privacy.

And your mental well-being is so much more important than their privacy!

It is a cool device and perfect for families with kids!


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