GPS: A Good Parenting System?

by Vanessa Loy (BPRW)

GPS: A Good Parenting System?
An old commercial asked, “It’s 10 o’clock; do you know where your child is?” It still resonates with today’s parents. Technological surveillance capabilities keep expanding at the same time that more potential threats to teens come to light. Responsible parents want to answer the question about their child’s whereabouts with absolute certainty. Some are even turning to new technology that monitors their children in the very places so idolized by teens, which are the cars they drive.

Parents are right to be concerned about the act of driving itself. Automobile crashes continue to claim the lives of African American young people every day. Teenage drivers are overrepresented even in non-fatal accidents, which is why automobile insurance rates are higher for drivers in that age group. But accidents are not the only reason parents are concerned about their teenage drivers. For a less-than-responsible teen, a car provides access to situations and people that are potentially destructive.

For that reason, some parents have purchased Global Positioning System or GPS tracking devices and installed them on the vehicles their children drive. These are satellite-based navigation systems that can pinpoint a driver’s location and behavior. Depending on the particular model, a GPS may be capable of tracking a driver’s speed, the route a driver has traveled, the location of a driver at the present moment, and track if the car is parked and for how long. Other car tracking systems exist that do not use GPS technology.

There are several benefits to having a tracking system. It can motivate a teen to behave appropriately, assist parents in locating their child if the car becomes inoperable, assist lost drivers, and deter carjacking and theft. Also, it could exonerate an innocent driver if there were questions of guilt in an accident.

Any parents mulling over installing a GPS or similar device in their cars should weigh the cost along with their own observations of their child’s character. When it comes to your child’s wellbeing, safe is always better than sorry.
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