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Keeping Watch

You spend all day Saturday with friends. When you get home that night, your mom already knows where you have been. How does she know? She's been tracking and mapping you all day long, using the Internet and that nifty watch-type gadget on your wrist.

Tracking Kids

The gadget, developed in 2001, is called a Personal Locator. It works by sending a signal to a satellite that is part of the U.S. Department of Defense's multibillion-dollar Global Positioning System (GPS). The GPS can tell a person's exact location from space.

The locator also features a built-in pager and a 911 panic button that alerts police in an emergency. It can also tell parents when their children reach a pre-set destination, such as the mall, school, or library, and each location they have visited during the day.

The Personal Locator is just one of a number of inventions companies have developed to keep track of people. Another device tracks children by using a computer chip embedded in sneakers!

Parents Work Best

David Shapiro, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said he's concerned that parents who buy personal tracking devices will ignore more basic child-protection skills. Those skills include knowing where children are playing, whom they are visiting, when they are expected to be home, and how to contact them.

Admittedly, it is often difficult for working parents, or any parents, to keep track of children at all times of day, every day. It is important, though, that parents realize that an electronic tracking device cannot guarantee their children's safety.

Since tracking devices cannot keep children 100 percent safe, parents should still use the time-honored basics. Human tracking devices—in other words, parents—sometimes cannot be beat!