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May 01, 2007
Big Brother: Phone Home
Mickey Mouse cell phones? Cinderella calling plans? Well, sort of. Disney is getting into the cell phone game, and I had a chance to try out their new handsets and service for a few weeks. I'll admit, I was pretty skeptical of the idea. For starters, I don't really think kids need cell phones, and that all manner of electronic gadgets keep them from the kind of creative play that's so much a part of childhood.
But my kids, of course, would disagree with that notion, since they're kids and they see adults and (more important) teenagers using cell phones all the time. So I gave the service a whirl (you can read my review here).
The biggest difference between these handsets and other cell phones is that they let you track your child's whereabouts. If that sounds Big Brother-esque, the service probably isn't for you. We had a bit of discussion of this issue among the Working Parents bloggers, and a couple were aghast at the idea, while others thought it sounded pretty nifty.
I can certainly understand the impulse to want to know where your kids are. It's part of being a parent. But at the same time, there's something kind of creepy about it. I probably won't be getting phones for my kids any time particularly soon, but I'd be interested in hearing what readers think about the issue.
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Through the wonders of technology, we are more and more able to stay in touch--which has only resulted in us becoming more and more (unnecessarily) worried when we CAN'T be in touch. I think this tracking thing would only contribute to what I see as an out-of-control Culture of Fear among parents. My nephew is in his third year at the Naval Academy. Recently, when the Academy sent him on maneuvers (or something) in South America, his mother insisted on knowing how to get in touch with him while he was there. HE IS TRAINING TO BE A MARINE!! Will moms everywhere very soon be demanding immediate contact with their sons and daughters in the combat zone? They will, if they never take the risk of letting their children run free.
Posted by: chris at May 7, 2007 08:31 PM