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It's a Jungle Out There
The world is a big place, with tons of things to do. Families have always enjoyed time together, but also time hanging out with friends or going to the movies or staying after school to study. But the world can also be a scary place and for parents, losing track of their child can not only be confusing, but frightening as well.
People lose track of time or an emergency comes up when they don't expect it. However, technology now allows for parents and kids to know where their family members are, even when on the go. In 2009, AT&T introduced a plan for their consumers to help them know where various family members are - is Mary later than usual from work? Did Mark make it to the band concert? Has Dan made it to his out of state meeting?
All these questions and more answered. Next!
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What is a Family Map?
Family maps or family locators are services provided by cellular phone carriers to their customers. The service uses the GPS - or global positioning system - feature on a cell phone to locate the particular person that an individual is looking for. This is usually advised for families so that parents can keep track of their kids.
Say teenaged Mark has band practice for two hours after school and is usually home by 6pm. However, it's now reaching 7:30pm and Mark is not home. Or perhaps daughter Mary gets off of work at 5:30pm, but as with brother Mark, she has not returned home. These kinds of scenarios are, of course, frightening to parents. Various news reports have been made about child kidnappings, abductions, assaults, etc.
Family Map, which is the offering from AT&T, allows for parents and kids to know where everyone is. The main AT&T user signs up with their phone number and then they can choose a plan; it's $9.99 to locate two phones or $14.99 for five phones. Currently, AT&T is offering a one month free trial to try the service.
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How It Works
The Family Map service allows parents to see where their child is, either online or through their mobile phones. While this may give parents peace of mind, what about the privacy of the child? What about the privacy factor at all?
Currently, the only way that one person can track another is by confirmation on the tracked person's phone. When the tracker - let's say Dad - wants to add a person's number to the Family Map - we'll say daughter Mary - Mary will receive a text message that tells her that her cell phone has been added and she will need to confirm that it's okay for her phone to be tracked. This of course allows for all parties involved to know that they will be tracked by their cell phone number.
Another feature that can help family members is the schedule. The schedule feature allows for the tracker to receive an alert when someone has reached the destination they should be at during a certain part of the day. With our above analogy, say son Mark has band practice at 3:30pm at the rec center; when he arrives for practice, Mom will get an alert that he's arrived. This can be good for parents too who may travel out of city or out of state.
Perhaps Dad was supposed to arrive in Los Angeles at 10am, but it's now 11am. Mom can see where Dad is - like if he's stranded in Las Vegas - and send him a text or phone him to see what has happened.
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Good for Your Family?
Will the AT&T Family Map be good for your family? Privacy issues will probably be the major concern for family members, as no one enjoys being tracked. However, it can be a good way to be alerted to an emergency. The precise location of the individual may be off, with some users stating that the locator can only locate within a mile or less, which doesn't ease a parent's mind.
Luckily, for AT&T customers, there is a free 30 day trial to test the service and see if it's something that your family can use.
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- AT&T Welcome to Family Map, https://familymap.wireless.att.com/finder-att-family/welcome.htm
- Family Map for iPhone App at the Apple Store, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/at-t-familymap/id353334746?mt=8
- Images by author, via Apple Store.