Disney is harnessing technology to help parents monitor kids. And what happens when the battery dies or the kid ventures into a wireless dead zone? Fear, and in some cases, panic.

We have age-old psychological methods to protect us from our fears, or at least to help us cope with them. They're like an immune system. And as we grow dependent on communications technology to assure us that things are OK, our inborn defenses wither away. At least that's my theory. The result: We fret as we wait for our children to answer the phone or respond to a barrage of text messages. And kids, who in previous generations would disappear from the map for weeks at a time, miss out on untethered freedom.

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