Cell phone GPS can help parents keep track of children

By: Liz Tedone
By: Liz Tedone

Knoxville (WVLT) - All cell phones today are GPS capable. Authorities and the phone company already have the power to track you. Now several wireless companies area offering the option on family plans so parents can keep up with their kids.

Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone has the details.

We have ways to monitor what they watch on tv, what they surf on the net and most recently where they are, literally. The GPS tracking technology has been available on cell phones for a while, but are parents willing to pay the extra price for peace of mind? The search for two missing Knox County teens puts technology in the spotlight again.

"We were able to track some phone calls, they did have cell phones on them and then the cell phones were turned off. So we knew that there had been some cell phone technology," Knox County Sheriff's Department Spokeswoman Martha Dooley said.

Through the enhanced 911 system, cell phone companies can help police track a phone within a hundred meters or less. In 2005, the FCC ruled all cell phones had to be GPS capable. Now many parents can personally use the service to double check on their kids. Paige Graham's getting a new cell phone next week that will have GPS service installed on it.

"It's got a GPS on it, and my parents want me to get because if I get lost I can use the tracking, but I'm not really sure if they're going to track me on it," Graham said.

Many parents we spoke with at the Bearden game say they've bought into the idea of GPS tracking on cell phones.

"She probably wouldn't want me to do it, but I think it's a very good idea," parent Jennifer Dickson said.

"Most definitely, I think it's a good idea where you find your son if they get lost, during the day or a night at a friends house, I think the GPS system is a good idea," parent Rick Campbell said.

But many of them haven't actually bought the service because it's extra. Companies like Sprint charge $9.99 per phone per month as part of it's family location plan. An expense many parents just aren't ready to pay for.

There are no rules requiring parents to tell their children they're tracking them through cell phones. Parents need to decide if they need the personal access to the technology that' s already available in emergency situations.


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