These are scary statistics: over 1 million children in the U.S. are reported missing each year. What’s even scarier is that 270,000 are abducted by their own family members*. As a society, we realize that we can’t keep an eye on our children every second of the day, but there are ways to keep track of their whereabouts and alert them if they are in danger.Thanks to CATS Communication and Wonder Boy Foundation, now you can help keep your family safe with just a computer and a GPS phone. Dubbed CATTrax, the technology is a location based service that allows parents to keep track of children through a GPS cell phone and alerts them when their child is in a sexual predator zone. Parents can view their children’s whereabouts on a map on a computer by logging in to their CATTrax account.
Then they can see how fast their children are traveling and even their approximate location.I’m no parent, so we asked Lance Ulanoff, Editor of Reviews of PC Magazine, to weigh in his thoughts on this family protection system:I love the idea of being able to know where my kids are at all times. My wife and I are already incredibly paranoid parents. We always know where our kids are—because we never let them out of our sights. Yes, they go to school and an occasional play date. But neither my 7 year old nor my 11 year old has gone to the store on their own or even around the block. Okay, there was that one time that my son took off around the block and we cornered him by my wife going one way and I the other.CATTrax is, of course, a great idea for tween and teen parents. It’s probably the only good reason to give any child or teen a cell phone: to track their whereabouts via GPS. I can imagine my wife sitting at her laptop with CATTrax, calling out my son’s position as he goes from street to street: “He’s on Oak…Okay he’s turning left. Now he’s on Smith..wait. he’s turning back, now he’s going forward again—I bet he picked up a something off the street..he’s on Sunrise. Wait, I’ve lost him. He must be in the mall…”The concept of adding predator zone is intriguing, but I’m not buying it. Of course the press release doesn’t really flesh out how this will work.
But I have an idea. We already get notifications in the mail every time a “predator” has moved into our neighborhood. This is a convicted sex offender who is now out of jail and living near us. He isn’t identified by name, but we know he’s nearby. I guess the Cattrax people get those pieces of info and the general location of the convict and overlay that on the GPS.Still how accurate or useful will this be? If it’s by zip then one bad guy living 10 blocks from me and Cattrax would have my entire neighborhood lit up as a predator zone. And, of course, Cattrax is useless if the predator is new and unknown to authorities. In the end, any place can be a predator zone. My plan for keeping my kids safe is to tell them—as I have been for years:Do not talk to strangers. Do not talk to people who pull up along side you in their car.
Do not go into strange homes.And, for as long as they’ll let me: Do not leave my sight.Currently, CATTrax works on the Sprint IDEN network only, on the following cell phone models: Nextel i275, Nextel i760, and Nextel i850. The company is working on providing the service on additional carriers. Call 1.877.229.CATS to activate the service.