Concerned Parents Can Track Child's Cell Phone

Chelsea's parents found her missing car by tracking her cell phone

By Bob Hansen
|  Saturday, Mar 6, 2010  |  Updated 10:42 AM PDT
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Vigil Was Everything Chelsea Embodied

Brent and Kelly King discuss the candlelight vigil that took place the evening after a body was discovered in the search for their missing 17-year old daughter Chelsea.
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Phone services that track cell phone locations are growing in popularity among concerned parents.

Chelsea King’s parents found their daughter’s missing car by tracking her cell phone. The 17-year-old left her phone inside her BMW in Rancho Bernardo Community Park.  Brent and Kelly King were able to track her phone using an AT&T Web site.

Keith Donohue with Best Buy in Mission Valley said parents of younger children or of new drivers are most likely to pay for the feature.

“You can actually go directly on the computer, shrink down on the map and zoom in on where the child is or very close proximity,” said Donohue.

AT&T and Verizon both offer tracking services. The cost for the feature runs between $10 and $15.

“If you’re worried about your kids staying out too late at night or you’re worried they may not be telling you exactly where they’re going or you’re just concerned about their safety, it’s good to know where they are,” said Rainey Reitman with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

But Reitman also said you should let your children know they are being tracked. 

“Kids have a right to know if parents are tracking them.  We all want to know if we’re being tracked regardless of who’s doing it,” Reitman said.

The website services not only follow the movements of a phone but some will notify parents if the phone goes outside of a predetermined area.

“If the child with the phone steps outside this parameter, it’s going to alert the parents,” said Donohue, who added that the carrier will notify parents with a text message.

While parents have the option of paying for the service, police departments are able to access information. The information is generally taken from GPS or cellular tower signals.

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