Keeping track of our kids

I’ve always heard about my husband’s close buddies and how fate saved his life. That night he was supposed to take a short drive with his friends, but plans changed. It was early evening when his friends disappeared. It took almost 24 hours for them to be found with countless cars driving over the bridge they were under. Two of them died and one was severely injured. If fate saved my husband, could GPS have saved these children?

I recently inquired about curfews on Facebook. The responses were immediate with some very emotional posts from friends who have kids the same age as mine. Midnight was the No. 1 curfew for a 16-year-old. If they wanted to stay out later, they could, but it had to be arranged ahead of time. In addition to that, Life 360, a GPS tracking system, is a must.

I thought I had my answer, until the group of friends that raised their kids 10 and 20 years ago started chiming in. Their curfew times were the same, but when it came to GPS tracking, they were appalled at the thought of tracking kids. Trust your kids, they said. Have a good relationship, they pressured. Mind you, these are people with whom I have close relationships with and knowing some of their stories, I guarantee they wish they had GPS tracking back then, but they would never admit it.

This huge gap in opinion got me to wondering what the real answer is. Many of my GPS-is-right friends said it’s more of a safety issue than a non-trust issue. Similar to my husbands’ story, I was told of a story where a group of kids were in a car crash and all were knocked unconscious. After the incident, the kids actually asked their parents to track them because the car crash would have been found faster had the parents been using this technology.

When talking with Smithville Fire Chief David Cline, he compared this app to OnStar and didn’t really see the difference, OnStar being something that adults willingly sign up for. Cline said they frequently get calls from OnStar giving them an accident location, to which they dispatch a crew to. Cline seemed impressed that Life-360 has crash detection and wondered how anyone could be against this incredible technology.

Cline also discussed safety concerns for all teens. As an example, he explained if a teen is with someone impaired or in an uncomfortable situation, you want to make sure your teen has an easy way out. He suggested a code word. If your teen calls you and says they have a migraine, you know that is a code for “come and get me now.”

Smithville Police Capt. Tony Roetman told me he thinks Life 360 is vital to our teens in today’s world. Agreeing with the older parents on my Facebook thread, he said we need our teens to prove themselves. But, he said, in the midst of proving themselves, it’s a safety feature that far exceeds anything we’ve ever had. He recalled an Ectonville accident that occurred several years ago in which the teens were not found until several days later, all deceased. Would this technology have saved these children?

Dennis Brewer of State Farm brought up an excellent point. He explained that the last thing parents want to do is call or text their teen because they are 10 minutes late. Constant texting and calling is not conducive to a safe drive home. A tracking method could eliminate this issue.

Conclusive Evidence: Life 360 is a must with driving teens!

Yvonne Ruff is a local author and mother.

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