Are GPS Trackers Safe for Kids? All You Need to Know

Parents have always been anxious when their children are out of sight. If a kid isn’t home by the agreed time, all kinds of horrible images can appear in a parent’s mind. Today, though, we have modern technology for an ally. We can now buy smartwatches for kids with a Global Positioning System, called GPS trackers that functions as an electronic guardian.

There are individual family members who need a GPS-enabled device. Younger kids who don’t stay within the backyard fence, special needs children, and even adults with dementia all need an extra-watchful eye. These are the family members who truly need extra watching rather than those who might need checking only once in a while.

How Do GPS Trackers Work on Smartwatches?

Many people think that the trackers work with triangulation, but that isn’t the case. Triangulation works, as the word hints, by measuring angles. Geo-trackers work instead by calculating the trilateration, and the distances by using signals’ travel times.

The calculations use the rate (299,792,458 meters per second at the speed of light) and the measure of how long the signal takes to arrive at the receiver on Earth’s surface. These devices use GPS data, including latitude and longitude.

GPS wearable devices work on a choice of one or several communication technologies.

  • Global Positioning System (GPS). Radio signals from three satellites in Earth orbit provide a GPS locator device on Earth within one meter.
  • Assisted Global Positioning System (A-GPS). A-GPS uses GPS technology assisted by mobile network cell sites. This tech provides a somewhat faster service due to the quicker transmission by cell sites on Earth rather than Earth orbit alone.
  • Location-Based Service (LBS). LBS is a more exact technology. It uses geographic information to provide more exact location services to the GPS smartwatch.
  • Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). A cellphone’s position pinpoints the child’s location using a 2G (second generation) digital cellular network where later generations of digital technology are not available.
  • Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS). Like the signals used by your tablet or home computer, a GPS watch device uses Wi-Fi to broadcast where the wearer of a GPS locator is at any particular time. The watch must be within a Wi-Fi range of service.

Personal Security and GPS Devices

Naturally, parents might worry about how safe their child is when their location is beamed continuously between satellites and Earth. If parents can access their child’s location, what’s to prevent bad actors or non-custodial parents from doing the same?

There is a risk that a kidnapper might fool a GPS tracker with hacked data that can fool the device and, therefore, the adults looking for the child. There have been instances when location data seemed to be hackable. The information on the manufacturer’s website is often not secure. Concerned parents might wish to look for additional security software to protect their child’s location information.

Privacy Rights

In most US states, children are considered adults at 21 or 18 if a state has legislated the younger age. Local rules will determine whether children have the privacy rights to deny their location data to parents. Parents should locate and review the laws that pertain to their home when setting up a geo-tracker account.

More than just tracking data, many parents are concerned that their older child might be communicating with an unknown or possibly dangerous individual. Software like FoneMonitor can track phone numbers called or be called by their child without detection.

Who Can Legally Use a Geotracker?

Before you decide to use a tracker device on someone other than yourself, there are legal issues to review.

Usually, you can use a tracking device if your children less than 18 years focus on the tracking activity. The laws are somewhat or very stringent when considering the person or property of an adult. In other words, you couldn’t place a tracker device on the car of a non-custodial ex-spouse unless the purpose is to prevent child abduction.

The tracking of minors and dependent adults is a new technology that will undoubtedly grow and become more complicated as time passes.