How parents are using GPS-equipped ankle monitors to track teens
For years, authorities have been using GPS-equipped ankle monitors to track criminals on parole or house arrest. The tech has been around for a long time, but now, it is being re-purposed to keep an eye on young adults by their parents. The teenagers are being strapped with these ankle monitors and tracked by a central control center, Quartz reported. Here are the details.
The providers of these monitoring devices create a digital perimeter around the home or school (or any place permitted by parents) of teenagers for a given period. If this boundary is crossed within the specified time, the parents are notified about their whereabouts with information like their current location (real-time) and if they are on foot or driving.
Though features vary from device to device, most ankle monitors pack a speaker and microphone, allowing parents to call their child back. One Florida-based company Tampa Bay Monitoring enables two-way communication with their ankle monitors. The runaway teen can tap on the 'call button' to connect with their monitoring center or the parents can contact the same place to send a personalized voice message. The service costs $10 a day.
Along with communication, parents can also use the tech for sounding a loud, piercing alarm, something that may help with locating the teen in crowded places.
As no US rule restricts parents from tracking their kids, more and more people are buying these ankle monitors. Companies sell these devices as a way to keep an eye on troubled kids with a history of running away or sneaking out late at night. However, it also raises privacy concerns as many parents are using the same tech to control their kids 24X7.
"Some paranoid parents want to control this kid from the time he wakes up through every minute of the day, and I can kind of recognize that we're now getting into an area that I don't want to be in," Frank Kopczynski, owner of Tampa Bay, told Quartz.
In select extreme cases, monitoring tech could prove handy in keeping teens safe and out of trouble. However, the real debate remains over other not-so-serious scenarios, where parents are only using these devices to control the movement of their kids every single minute. This may affect their morale, making them feel they are shackled in a digital prison.