By on August 5, 2008

I like how it can balance like that... (courtesy anytrack.com)As the father of four daughters, I'm SO going to buy one of these real-time GPS tracking devices when my progeny start driving. Hell, if the technology's there, I'm going for a skin implant. OK, I'm a little freaked by the idea that anyone can slip a matchbook-sized somethingorother into my car and know where I am in real time. But I guess that horse left the barn in, what, 1984? Anyway, students of psychology might enjoy this little testimonial from AnyTrack's website: "Our son is a new driver. The car has a curfew. When he was late one night and not answering his cell phone, we were very concerned. We were able to log on and see that he took the car out of town and went to a concert that was not allowed. We knew for a fact that he was there and as a result of that knowledge, we were able to restrict the car use until he became more responsible. The Any Track unit is easily hidden in the vehicle. It is not very big so it is easy to hide. I like being able to keep track of our car and know that he is where he says he will be." Anyone know if jammers for teens have hit the internet yet? 

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44 Comments on “Spy on Teen Drivers for $189 and $11 a Month. Or Anyone Else, Really....”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    This might be a good idea to put in your own car in case it is stolen. Anyone tried this?

    Edit: I am talking about the safeguard plan I guess. Just had time to go through the entire article. Seems expensive, especially since you pay every time you want to track the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Scottie

    I am pretty sure i would have found that on my car and probably would have moved it in the car. That way when my parents would change the batteries, they wouldn’t be able to find it.

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    As a student of psychology I would be concerned that the trust that boy has for his parents may be destroyed.

    Also, it will only work one time as the teenagers with the GPS would simply stop taking their car where they are not supposed to and go with someone else.

  • avatar
    aggrazel

    If my parents had had this when I was a teen, I’d still be grounded. I’m 33.

  • avatar

    I’m all over something like this for my sons when they are legal driving age. Their expectations for privacy (as far as their parents knowing where they are and what they’re up to) do not begin until they no longer live under my roof.

    I also want to know how fast they’re driving at any given moment and in terms of peak speeds. If I see the crap on there that I pulled when I was 16 and 17, they’re in big trouble. :)

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Easy solution, park the car at the library, go out in friend’s car.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    We knew for a fact that he was there and as a result of that knowledge, we were able to restrict the car use until he became more responsible.

    Off-topic, but since when did a parent need proof to restrict a childs priveleges? It sure didn’t work that way when I was a kid.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I’d actually like to have a device that plugs into the ecu that retards accleration to a degree and limits top speed.

    If you are eating my food, enjoying my TV, driving my car don’t expect much in the way of privacy IMO.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Teens? Hell… there must be a huge market for cheating spouses.

  • avatar
    bleach

    Steve_S,

    The aftermarket tuners have focused on increasing performance, but some tuners for Audi/VW have included a Valet mode that limits performance. If there’s ever a swelling of demand, others might jump in on tuning for decreased performance.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I love it when parents think they can out-tech their kids.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Well, provided it has an absolute bombproof anti-tampering system, it might be a good idea. IMO, it helps draw the line between rights and privileges for teens. Too many people in general treat driving as a right.

    Personally, with some of the run-ins I had with the cops as a teen, I would much rather have had them directly with my parents.

    But riding with a friend is the obvious bypass. Until every teen driver is required to carry one of these, it won’t be very useful. Unless, of course, your primary goal is protecting the car, not necessarily the kid :D

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I work at a company with large sales and logistics fleets. The disturbing part about this technology is that it works: we saw a big upswing in both salesforce productivity and delivery efficiency when we put this in.

    And yes, some teens can get by this, but not as many as people think. I’ve been in IT a long time and the technical astuteness of younger generations isn’t as good as people commonly think. People seriously overestimate the resourcefulness of the young and/or the stupidity of their parents.

    Yes, the average nineteen year old can install and use MSN Messenger or search for stuff on Google. Sure, this looks whizz-bangy to their luddite relatives, but they’re just as helpless as said relatives if MSN “just stops working”. Can said nineteen year old make it past an enterprise firewall, content-inspection system and/or locked-down thin-client desktop? Other than basement-dwelling troglodytes like my teenage self, I doubt it.

    The same applies to this thing: yes, someone who can wrench is going to be able to pull it out. Can they fool it? Maybe, if they’re smart. Is it within the ability of the average teenager? Probably not.

    I don’t like this box on general principle because it’s a substitute for treating your kids with courtesy and respect, just as snooping on employees is a substitute for good management. What’s next, home urine testing instead of a frank discussion on recreational drugs? Chastity belts?

  • avatar
    netrun

    I’m with carlisimo, parents trying to out-tech their kids is just pathetic and drops the parents even lower in the kids eyes (if that’s even possible).

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “As a student of psychology I would be concerned that the trust that boy has for his parents may be destroyed.”

    Trust? Are you smoking dope? The only thing that my kids could trust was that I would be on them like stink on poo-poo if they got out of line.

    This is the classic problem with psychologists, they want everybody to like them. That is just pathetic, and not the basis of of good parent child relationships. The kids want you, as the parent to be in charge, and you as the parent have to take charge and be straight about it. The trust they need is that you will be the parent, not BFF.

  • avatar
    kps

    $189? That’s five times the price of a little GPS blocker.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    Yet another substitute for the actual task of parenting… Sometimes parents scare me. I thought my parents were pretty crazy, but I’ve since seen that I had it good.

    Your job as a parent is not to police your children, it’s to raise and support them correctly so they don’t need policing. I hate this “my roof, my rules” mentality. If you need property ownership to demand authority and respect, you’ve lost both before you’ve begun. Also, it always cracks me up to hear parents say “They better not do the things that I used to do.” Gotta love the double standard. It’s times like this that make me wonder if TTAC’s readership is a little old.

    It seriously scares me that I’ll become the same way if/when I become a parent. I mean, there’s a reason why they/you are all like that, right?

    Basically, if you don’t trust your kid enough to buy this, you shouldn’t have given your kid a car in the first place.

    And carlisimo sums it up very nicely.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    No GPS signal = kid still gets grounded.

  • avatar
    NickR

    For $100 you can get an upgrade that sounds an alarm at your home when it detects the sound of a fly opening or a bra snapping.

    Hell… there must be a huge market for cheating spouses.

    *nervous laughter*

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    Robert Schwartz:

    If a child cannot trust their parents they will become an inherently untrusting person.

    seoultrain said it well, you shouldn’t police your children, you should guide them.

    And no, I’m not smoking dope but I do take offense to your suggestion.

    Why would wanting open and honest parent/child relations make people like psychologists?

  • avatar
    AKM

    As the father of four daughters,

    My condolences Robert, and good luck to you once they’ll hit 14-15, if not done yet.

    As for trust, the kid in the testimonial violated his parents’ trust by not answering the cellphone, and should be grounded just for that. This said, as a future parent, I’d use those devices as a punishment already, i.e. if trust has already been broken previously. I’m all for guiding, and I hope nothing more will be necessary, but punishment is a necessary corollary of breach of trust. Otherwise, the kids will just think they can walk all over their parents, and therefore their bosses later in life.
    But instead of hiding devices under your kid’s seat, you might as well cut them off and take the car keys back. That’ll sting enough.

  • avatar
    DrBrian

    ChrisHaak :
    I also want to know how fast they’re driving at any given moment and in terms of peak speeds. If I see the crap on there that I pulled when I was 16 and 17, they’re in big trouble. :)

    Did you learn from it? If you installed this box you kids would never learn some of the hard/fast rules of driving.

    I’m sure there is a clarkson column on this very subject and i’ll try and dig it out once I’ve had my tea.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I guess the ‘behaving for fear of getting your ass kicked by your old man’ era is over?

  • avatar
    Airhen

    rev0lver :
    August 5th, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    ….If a child cannot trust their parents they will become an inherently untrusting person.

    seoultrain said it well, you shouldn’t police your children, you should guide them…

    …Why would wanting open and honest parent/child relations make people like psychologists?

    Boy, some kids are going to run all over you someday. Robert is right on. Kids inherently look for trouble and need a parent to police, not to be their best friend that excuses misbehavior.

    “Now junior, please respect my rules or else I’m going to have to hire a psychologist to understand why we aren’t communicating?” LOL

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    I didn’t say that you should let them walk all over you. In fact, punishment is one way to guide your children, teach them right from wrong.

    But simply saying “those are the rules so follow them” (as a police officer would do) does not create a good relationship. You should explain your reasoning for the rules and punishment, that way children will more easily internalize the rule and will subsequently be more likely to follow it.

    When you rule with an iron fist, people (children included) don’t respect the rules, they just find ways not to get caught.

    Also, are you all scientologists because you seem to have some hatred towards psychology.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Lumbergh21 :
    Off-topic, but since when did a parent need proof to restrict a childs priveleges? It sure didn’t work that way when I was a kid.

    Yeah. Without of a verifiable emergency, being late would cost me the car for a month+.

    NickR:
    I guess the ‘behaving for fear of getting your ass kicked by your old man’ era is over?

    Not only that, today’s skoolz are infected with ‘advocates’ whose life mission is ‘emancipating’ teens from homes with moral standardsjudgmental parents at your expense.

    Of course, you can still disinherit kids ;)

  • avatar
    RayH

    The good-guy side of me says no, but the stalker side says hell yes! – joke

    As many stalkers as there are in the world, I think that’s as big a market as checking up on potentially cheating spouses. Maybe bigger. I have a crazy ex-galfriend whom I have no doubt would’ve stuck this under/in my car had it been around back then. I just assume that since she tried emailing me files with “keyloggers” after we broke up, among other things.

    If my parents had had this when I was a teen, I’d still be grounded. I’m 33
    I know I would’ve been sent to Juvenile Delinquent Boot Camp or military school.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    Can’t the parents simply record the milage on the car? Little johnny went to another city instead of the mall you would know. Google-map their supposed evening, compare the KMs and they are busted.

    Johnny busted, trust in check.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    I’d like the aforementioned top-speed limiter, and I think all kids should have cellphones for emergency use.

    I don’t like GPS tracking. It’s a privacy violation, and there’s more to growing up than staying on the beaten path. Straying from it is a learning experience that I wouldn’t want to deprive any adolescent. You have to give some rope to build self-reliance, even if they may not use it in the way you’d consider most optimal.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “If a child cannot trust their[sic] parents they[sic] will become an inherently untrusting person.”

    I am sorry if you are offended, but if you spout inanities like this one and the other one I commented on you are demonstrating an obeisance to pop-culture psychologizing that is appalling, and you have no sense of humor.

    Being an “an inherently untrusting person” is not a bug, it is a feature. Everyone has an agenda, everyone runs a con. The immortal W.C. Fields said that his grandfather’s last words, “just before they sprung the trap”, were “You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump.” It is the way men are. Learning it is part of becoming an adult. No one should be trusted, except to the extent, that he has demonstrated by deeds, not words, that he is trustworthy.

    I believe that as parents we were trustworthy. We set limits, and if they were violated, there were consequences. I think our children trust us. They are now at the age (early 20s) where their BFFs have backstabbed them, buddyf***ed them, and dumped them. They now understand who we are and how lucky they were to not be raised by parents who trusted them, and wanted them to become simple trusting souls.

  • avatar
    toadroller

    A useful punishment in today’s high tech world is to *gasp* take the cell phone away and *horrors* leave it on the counter, on, ringing and beeping.

    Each missed communication is a reminder of the priveledges lost.

    My oldest (12) recently broke some trust and innocence with us; there was punishment, there was loving discussion and explanation, there were clear rules laid out, and there was incentive out forth to do right. Things have gone from fear and shame to good communications and guidance as the rope gets slowly let out again…

    Is it easy being a parent? Heck no. Would any of us trade that in? Hope not.

    When he’s 16, will he be driving a beater Taurus wagon? U-Betcha.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Also, are you all scientologists because you seem to have some hatred towards psychology.”

    Actually, no. My wife is a Ph.D. holding, licensed clinical psychologist. She is the one who has created my understanding of what parent child relationships should be.

    The stuff you are spouting comes from Oprah and other muddle headed media stars who can spout pop-psychology, but who have neither clinical experience, nor a sophisticated intellectual understanding of the science.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    Just want to clarify my statement above. I said it’s not a parents job to police his/her children. My use of “police” was meant to imply excessive control and monitoring. Children need set boundaries, and need to be aware of the consequences for crossing said boundaries. Spying on your children does neither. It definitely crosses the line.

    And I do think there is a fair amount of trust that needs to be built between a parent and child. I envy my friends who can talk to their parents about anything. I wouldn’t trust my parents to give me a logical, open-minded answer for a second. Luckily, I guess a childhood of that made me independent enough to work through my issues.

    There’s too much representation of the extremes here. You shouldn’t need to buy a GPS tracker to spy on your kids, but you do need to be an authority figure, not a buddy.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Trust, but verify. And its not spying, if you are driving my car.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    I can tell you the type of parents who would put this on their kid’s cars: the same ones that demand they phone in every 30 minutes and live through their kids. By the time the kid turns 18 and heads off to college, they’ve got no idea how to handle themselves. Frankly any parent who puts this on the car without:

    a) the child getting into trouble first (aka after your first ticket, it goes on the car)

    b) telling the child it’s on the car

    has got some serious trust issues to resolve. If they can drive, they should have some ability to take care of themselves and use some judgement, otherwise they shouldn’t operate a motor vehicle.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    I think seoultrain and revolver are right when they say that ultimately parents should be instilling the values that allow children to understand why certain actions are wrong; not simply telling them to “just follow my rules or else…”

    After all, by the time teens are driving, they’re only a few years away from college. And if the only reason that they were well-behaved was behaved was from the fear of their parents lash then they’re bound to run into trouble when their parents aren’t their to police them.

    I’m reminded of an acquaintance I used to know from college that had strong restrictions placed upon him by his parents in regards to how long he could play video games. He followed that rule under the watchful guidance of his parents while in high school and apparently received top marks as he received admission into Princeton. However, once he was at college he realized that his parents could no longer enforce those rules and often skipped classes to play on his computer. He was smart enough to make it through passably for awhile but his habit became so bad that he dropped out before the completion of his 2nd semester.

    That being said, I agree with Robert Schwartz that use of such a device can be justified, especially if you suspect that your teenager could possibly be doing something that will get him in serious trouble. But ultimately these measures should only be a safeguard; for a well parented child there shouldn’t be many times when it’s needed.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    My dad never needed no fancy GPS whatever. I could only use the car for work and back, and he knew how many miles it took for one round trip. I found out the hard way that he checked the mileage before I took the car, and after I brought it home.

    But if I had kids and a car, I’d put it in there. After all, it’s my kid and my car and I have a parental responsibility to know where my kid is and an owner’s right to know where my car is.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    At the risk of sounding like a total geezer, my parents didn’t need an electronic nanny to monitor me when I was a teen driver.

    For some strange reason I understood that there were certain rules that I was expected to follow, and that there were consequences if I didn’t follow them. But even before I learned that I was taught to respect my parent’s judgment and authority, and they in turn respected my ability to make good decisions, which I usually did. When I didn’t, it was an opportunity for me to learn from my mistakes.

    Have things changed that much since I was a 16-year-old (in 1980), or was I just an exceptionally good kid? :)

  • avatar
    westhighgoalie

    I don’t know about you guys, but johny law always taught me what i needed to know.( get a radar detector)

    But honestly, some kid is going to find this thing, and think “how can i mess with my parents?”

    He will then strap the damn thing to a cow in the middle of nebraska!

  • avatar
    capeplates

    Just think of all the guys who are going to be caught out playing away from home. “I’m working late darling” wont work when she traces you to a motel on the outskirts of the town. Be warned – banish this invention

  • avatar
    jdv

    I’d prefer to do it via cell phone, as my kids are inseperable from their cell phones.

    Sprint offers something called the Family Locator for $10.00 a month. It allows me to go to a website and see the GPS location of any of my kids phones.

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    Robert Schwartz :

    Why would you add sic to my quotes? sic is used when there is a misspelling and you are quoting, I used the proper forms of the words.

    You seem to view the world as an untrustworthy place, that’s too bad.

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    P.S. I have a master’s degree in psychology so I think I have a slight grasp on the science.

  • avatar
    JJ

    I think you should give your kids as much freedom as possible while making sure they can’t get killed, abused and or seriously injured or become bad people themselves.

    Too many restrictions can be just as bad or maybe worse for the development of children, particularly ‘good kids’ as too little restrictions.

  • avatar
    Slare

    I’d just leave an instruction manual with a fake receipt somewhere where my kid could see it.

    Save a couple hundred bucks. Trickery rules.

    Oh an I can say without fail I would have taken a beating if my car had one of these in it back in the day.


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