Will Cell Phones Keep Them Safe?
A Fallible Plan
Such tracking devices, however, have drawbacks parents need to be aware of. If the boys urgently needed help during their bike ride, it might be too late by the time someone found them. And if they wanted to, the concert-going girls could deviate from the established itinerary and go to a party after the show -- they could turn off the phone or leave it in their own car and drive with someone else.
Cell phones and their accompanying programs are tools for parenting children safely today, but they not foolproof. Nothing takes the place of a well-established parent-child relationship based on love and trust. Also, parents need the confidence that their children -- 10-year-olds to teenagers -- have the experience and intellectual judgment to manage the environments in which they're placed, only using the cell phone as a backup safety device.
The mobile phone is neither a babysitter nor a watchdog. Its protective uses are limited to the skill and willingness on the part of a child to carry and use it wisely. If you do decide to let your kids use these phones and devices, don't rely solely on them for protection. Your children need you watching them -- technology will never take the place of your time, attention, eyes, and ears when overseeing your child's whereabouts.
Jan Faull, MEd, is a veteran parent educator and the author of two parenting books, Mommy, I Have to Go Potty and Unplugging Power Struggles. She writes a biweekly parenting advice column for HealthyKids.com, and a weekly parenting advice column in the Seattle Times newspaper. Jan Faull is the mother of three grown children and lives in the Seattle area.
Originally published on HealthyKids.com, December 2004.