back to article Operation Sprogwatch: Keeping tabs on the kids

It's every parent's dream - reliable and easy-accessed information on what your offspring are up to. Electronics systems such as Spyphone II 8210 actually allow you to dial into your child's mobile, and eavesdrop on their conversations. And now, there's the "buddi", which will track wherever the brats go, showing a GPS path …


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  1. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Sarah Murray and her daughter

    Did she think of sending her daughter of skiing carrying a normal mobile phone. I've found that pretty much anywhere that isn't massively off piste has excellent phone reception.

    And maybe the solution to loosing her in the hypermarket is to keep proper control of her children, and failing that to have told them where you'll meet up if you get seperated, I seriously doubt if any gps aerial is capable of picking up a signal actually inside a significant structure.

    I can see that the device might be useful in a few specific applications, but to parents, not so much.

  2. Mike Taylor

    Emergency phone number is 112

    Nothing else!

  3. Jared Earle
    Black Helicopters

    Won't somebody think of the children?


    I wonder how many cases of abduction this would actually prevent. I'd guess as near zero as to make no difference.

    Also, No mention has been made of the fact that the inventor's daughter wasn't abducted. She was quite safe and had merely wandered off in the supermarket.

    If you're looking to buy one of these, I would like to sell you the anti-tiger pebble. It's a small rock you put in your child's pocket and it keeps them safe from tiger attacks (and as a bonus, it keeps them safe from meteor strikes for free) while they carry it.

  4. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    As a parent

    I think its a good Idea. It allows the paranoia that parents have to be reassured, whilst allowing kids the freedom to go out without parental shadowing.

    Privacy? Well put it this way, that device can easily be removed by the child in question if they don't want even this level of surveillance.

    As an adult?

    I can see the technology being compulsory courtesy of our lizard overlords within a few years for the whole population

  5. Pete Silver badge


    To summarise: slap a SIM in a GPS receiver the size of a matchbox. Give it to your children, breathe a sigh of relief.

    Except there are certain problems. The most obvious (as has been mentioned here, before) is that children don't always want to be tracked, traced and generally followed around by snoopy parents. They WILL find ways to subvert the system - the most obvious being to take the wretched thing off and leave it in their friend's house while they go off and get a life. On top, the coverage of GPS while indoors is, to say the least, spotty. So the cited example of the parent who was careless enough to misplace their child in a supermarket is not guaranteed to work - funny that the press release doesn't mention this.

    If you're going to force your offpring to carry some tech, you might as well make it a mobile phone. At least then they have something that fits in with their peer-group, rather than being something to be ashamed of. You never know, if you do lose track, you could just phone them up and ask them where they are.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice security guard.

    Where was she shopping if a security guard assumed that a missing child had been abducted, not just wandering the toy dept? Either very bad advice, or made up for marketing.

    The product does sound pretty good for emergency services people, social workers, mountaineers and perhaps even the armed forces. Any people who can be in hazardous situations with limited support.

  7. Dave Bell

    Looks a pretty decent gadget...

    This whole business about the kids is a red herring, and that's worrying. This woman clearly isn't stupid, but she's fallen for all the usual lies.

    But the device does look useful. Just not for protecting kids.

  8. Steve

    How old is here daughter?

    One moment she's talking about losing her in the supermarket and the next she's sending her on a skiing trip. If she can't negotiate a supermarket without getting lost, should you really send her off skiing unsupervised?

    I'm also astounded by the suggestion to stand at the car park exit and check everything leaving - surely a better plan would be to stand at the exit of the shop. You know, when the hypothetical kidnapper will be ON FOOT instead of in a speeding vehicle!

    Maybe if she spent more time paying attention to her kid instead of being busy innovating things all over the place, she'd realise that these will quickly end up left at home or wrapped in tin-foil. That or some enterprising kid will offer to sit in the library for a few hours with a bag full of his friends' tracking units for a few quid at a time.

    Sure, if your going up a mountain it might be useful in an emergency. Although, what would be more useful would be the ability to call someone and say "Help, I've broken my leg," rather than waiting for someone to realise that you haven't returned before, dial in to the tracking box, listen to the sound of a bear chewing your corpse and then come looking for you.

  9. Eddie Edwards

    Can't escape this BS

    On Sunday I was at the town festival and got nobbled by the Rainbows (the even-younger-than-the-Brownies paramilitary organization). I was with my daughter and wife. We showed some interest in the thing and asked where it is held. The response? "Oh we can't tell you where it is until after you sign up, because of 'nasty people'".

    And last week my wife's friend lost her kid at the zoo, and lost her mind at the same time. She was apparently *terrified* that someone at the zoo would see a lost kid and abduct him. Opportunistic paedophilia, I suppose. The kid turned up an hour later, safe and well, having wandered off to see the monkey ... but I think the mother was scarred for life.

    In a climate of fear like this, devices like the aforementioned should do well.

  10. jubtastic1

    And the security guard said

    "Go stand by the exit from the car park, and look into the back of every car which goes out"

    Either that is the most cynical bullshit pitch for a product I've ever heard or she needs to reconsider her choice to take her kids shopping at her local PedoMall.

  11. Paul

    999 out of 1000

    times that a child gets separated from their parent its because they have wandered off and not been abducted. This does not however reduce the anxiety of the parent at the time and its the reduction in the fear of that happening that this would reduce.

  12. Elmer Phud


    Can't see how this gives any child 'freedom'. It locks them to their parents like a chain - no, more like a shackle. Parents' paranoia is part of the parents having to grow up and recognise that their kids will have friends that the parents don't approve of. Should all of their child's' acquaintances be vetted before the kids are allowed contact?

    Another teenager seeing one of these devices will feel duty bound to squeeze it and set it off as many times as is possible.

    Any parent who thinks that close covert surveillance of their own kids is O.K. needs packing off to a small but significant part of Cuba.

    Both my daughters have survived being teenagers without my needing to know where they are all the time or who they are with or what their movements are. Tagging was supposed to be for crims - not for everyone else.

    Reliance on technology has always been a bit dodgy. "He/she is O.K. there's been no warning. They are over at someones house, everything is fine, no need to worry." Ah, not spotted that the GPS hasn't moved and that the background noise is on a loop? No? that's because they left it round a mates place while they were off shagging elsewhere.

  13. Ferry Boat

    Tag your kid to make them forever a kid

    Give children responsibility, show them that you trust them and don't spy on them. They'll grow up into adults who can take care of themselves and think for themselves. Simple really.

    Full marks for the technology, zero marks for the idea.

  14. Neil

    Small problems...

    Oh good, little 13-yr old Jane is sleeping soundly in her room. I know that for certain because the GPS tells me so. There's no way she'd dare go out without it!


    Girl gets grabbed by one of the millions of Pedos that seem to inhabit every town these days. "Hey, what's this bright thing dangling from your belt? Oh, one of those tracker things..." <open window, throw away gadget>.

  15. stu

    Overkill and complicated.. here is a much better idea

    A regular dog electric shock collar can be fitted to children up to the age of about 10.

    With simple modifications this can be made to emit the shock when seperated from the parent by a certain distance.

    I was thinking of calling it Childlock.

  16. stu


    I would like to go into business with you my man! I think your anti-tiger pebble has legs.

    Tell me, have you patented this yet ?

    I am thinking perhaps, of a deluxe version which can be used on any wild animal,and for a monthly subscription will protect against lightening attacks and embola virus.

  17. Elsnorff
    Black Helicopters

    Big Buddi......

    ....... Is watching you!

  18. phix8
    Dead Vulture

    Look in the boot?

    As said, either cynical made-up crap or just very stupid advice given to a parent stupid enough to believe it 'put things in perspective'... 'the security guard knew just what to do' lol.

    Besides, wouldnt we all put the kid in the boot?

  19. Andy Watt
    Thumb Down

    Unsubscribe from this mindset quick...

    Like a few posters, I think this device is opportunistic crap masquerading a useful technology. We'll only escape a culture of ingrained fear by actually having trust in our kids, giving them some sense of self-awareness and not treating them like china bloody dolls their whole lives. Get worried, sure. But the story about the kid who got lost at the zoo is a pathetic (I use that in the classic way - pathos etc) example of what modern media paranoia has done to those of us who are weak-willed anough to let to impact our lives.

    The device is probably pretty innovative, but I think it's just pandering to fear, and inevitably increasing it. When I do have kids, they'll know I trust them, and therefore they'll actually have some respect for themselves and me, so they will have some sense of self-awareness and look after themselves, when they need to, and when the time comes.

    What next, an electronic potty-trainer to help bring the average age back down (I heard the other day it's climed to 2.5 years????)?

  20. heystoopid


    Hmmm , would not the basic psychology 101 give the answer that the wankers and wowsers who buy into this type of tracking technology are in fact over the line suffering from basic self induced paranoid psychotic insecurity and are in obvious need of assorted medicines(Ritulin , Prozac and other questionable mind control crap sold in this field) or extensive couch treatment to counteract this psychosis or malaise of the mind and also very much on the borderline of that which they are allegedly protecting the child from(the bulk of that particular problem is from within the close family circle and those whom many dumber adults consider as persons holding absolute trust , but have other reasons for being opportunistic rats within the fold ) !

    The problem thus arises , whilst in theory you can teach the subject but unless one can experience also the practical side of the learning curve in real life in real time , thus much of what is taught is both deemed by the child as mostly irrelevant and immaterial and very quickly filed under IFS !

    Thus it becomes , those who suffer from this self induced psychotic paranoid insecurity behavior of not allowing a child to trust it's own convoluted judgment or common sense at any age , are recreating it for the next generation to react against and so the cycle continues on and on ! It also sends the message to the child in question I neither trust myself or you at the same time to do the right thing because at some point as a parent we truly do have to let the offspring seek their own independent way in life and follow other destiny's and not your pre-ordained one way trip to paranoia hell of worrying about the improbable what ifs in our real world outside the artificial all enveloping self created one of the cotton wool blanket one which stifles learning anyway !

    One can say of these self wanking wowser devices as sold , "Idiocracy Truly Rocks!" , but then again , we were truly warned about the coming of this form of inherent illogical stupidity back in 1969 though !

    Let the flame wars continue thus !

  21. Vic


    Here are my thoughts on this.

    Allow kids to become independent by degrees like they're supposed to...until that mythical time when they get their own flat and only call you now and again, mostly when they need money to take the cat to the vet. Look, I don't necessarily take my own advice but hope the kids will eventually get to that mirage-like place.

    Sensible bit of information - the vast majority of child abuse is carried out by PEOPLE YOU KNOW. In other words, your child's ability to trust you as a parent and tell you that Uncle Joey asked them to do something bad the other day is vastly more important than snooping. Family members, parents' 'friends' and acquaintances are more likely culprits and aren't going to be deterred by this kind of thing since you already know the kid's at Uncle Joey's house, right?

    This kind of device makes parents lazy and probably increases the chances of the kid being snatched anyway. 'Oi, where's the kid? It's probably nipped off to the butchery section to watch them chop up the pigs again. Never mind, it's got that squeezy thing on.'

    I think it's just a great trial for other related snooping technology - being financed and then carried out for free by paranoid parents.

    Oh, and a random story - one of my kids was a total runner around the age of three. Got almost lost once in Woolies (couldn't choose somewhere tasty obviously) and after that I purchased a kid leash. Child wore it three times then told me it was no longer required - had learned that the ability to explore is best curtailed by self and not dog-style lead. In that total maybe of two hours I had about 10 complete strangers march up to me and tell me I was a disgusting Same kind of demographic I'd guess as the ones who are interested in this snooping device. I think it's probably an 'obvious' vs 'underhand' style of parenting but I'm clearly biased.

  22. b

    It allows the paranoia that parents have to be reassured

    If you feed it, it will grow.

    This is how mental illnesses like Obsessive Compulsive Disorders start. It's a sad state of affairs if this type of abherent pyschology becomes widespread and exploited for cash.

  23. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Down

    @ phix8

    Yes, in the trunk, and I guess you would throw the tracking device away beforehand.

    GAWd, what a piece of BS. Sometimes I wonder how I (and countless generations before) actually survived with no tracking device attached to me, no bicycle helmet, no taser-equipped mother following my each and every move but one who just told me to neither accept food from strangers not to walk off with them and what to do in case I got lost anyway... damn... I must be a prime specimen, a true survivor... and all this pointless junk would just water down the gene-pool even further, if it was actually good for something.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Strange how quickly parents forget the freedoms that they grew up with...

    To think that these idiots were once children themselves.

    Don't want to give the government any new ideas; but unless these items are surgically implanted, the kids will just game the system - as kids always will!

    I see a future where we all wear Running Man style exploding neck bracelets to keep the children and everyone else in their place. That'll stop little Johnny leaving the safety of his mother's side and going to look at the latest Lego toys in the supermarket. "Yes little Johnny; if you go out of the proximity meter's range, your head will explode!"...

  25. galbak


    I work in a supermarket, I'd love to see the childlock being marketed or better, used, esp on all the screaming brats that run round the place causing chaos, that we cant touch. Although the last time I offered to let a parent borrow a spare dog leash/collar for their wild running kid, they were very offended.

  26. Elmer Phud

    Supermarket Sweep - re: childlock

    No kid want to be dragged to the supermarket to spend an hour getting bored and pissed off. It's no surprise that they go ape, the parents don't really like it either. There are tactics that can be employed at different stages of development.

    These range from leaving buggies next to the grapes for 'inadvertent grazing' to letting them work out which are the best deals - is it cheaper to get one large jar of coffee or two smaller ones on a bogof deal? How about giving them the shopping list and asking them to find stuff? Yeh, it can take a lot longer at times but if you get rid of your own frustration at shopping (don't people realise how their own kids read body language?) then the experience can be a bit more pleasurable - for the kids, the parents and for the poor sods like 'galbak' who have to put up with everyone's effing kids all day.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Calm down

    How about we all just stop reading the Daily Mail and calm down? Most abused children are abused by relatives. If parents want to protect them, all they have to do is not abuse them!

    Parents are only paranoid because the media blow it out of all proportion.

  28. Tim Elphick


    I don't get what the security guard said to her. What perspective did it put losing her daughter into?

    Also, I didn't get the impression that this is for tracking people against their will, so much as giving them a means of requesting help if they wanted it. Or getting their parents to rush over so they didn't have to walk home.

  29. Luther Blissett

    A satire never bettered

    The TV sketch in which a mother coos to her baby in the cot, and you slowly realize she's had it (the baby) plumbed into the central heating system to guarantee its comfort...

    Perfection is such a rare thing.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Utter, staggering, bollocks!

    I can log into our Blackberry server right now and see the locations of all our companies devices.

    Oh look, they're all in drawers or ignored on peoples desks.

    Whatever, the point is that this silly cow may have thought she was doing something new 5 years ago, but its old news now.

    You can also get apps for the iPhone, both official and jailbreak, that quietly email/text you its location should it get stolen.

    I call shenanigans!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's every parent's dream

    No it isn't. Quite honestly I couldn't care less where my children are right now and that's because I trust them. The eldest called me yesterday to say he'd be staying over with a friend. He could have been lying but here's the thing, he doesn't have to so he won't be. I might see him tonight I might not, he'll let me know. When he does come home he'll tell me where he's been, not because I'll grill him but because he'll want to. The girl is on holiday at her grandmothers, she goes out in the morning and returns when she's hungry.

    As for the device, it is a complete waste of everything. If a child is abducted, which is a very occurence, it will, at best tell you where a body is or more probably where the device was when it was removed.

  32. Peter Simpson
    Black Helicopters

    Indoor reception - not likely

    Places like malls, schools, pretty much all industrial buildings, are built with corrugated steel flooring. No matter how good the antenna, a GPS signal isn't going to make it through that.

    So, the box may have a good antenna, and a good GPS module, but indoor reception isn't going to be guaranteed. And, if someone were to throw the child into the boot (trunk) of a car, GPS reception would be equally poor.

    // Points for creative marketing, though.

    /// Helicopter parents...

  33. Anonymous Coward

    actually there's a very good use for this

    And that's to hook up to granny or grampaw who have old-timers and are prone to not remember who they are and where they're supposed to be.

    My young sprog-ettes had a tendancy not to walk away in large stores after a rather sharpish application of a hand to buttocks....oh, cruel; I can hear it now. Get over it and don't get between me and my kids if you value your own safety, eh? Only time we ever had one get away was in a really huge crowd at a theme park and rounded her up safe and sound at the nearest aide location. Moment of worry....hell yes. Panic; not hardly. I hope the day never comes I feel I have to spy on my kids to know where they are and who they're with and that they have learnt enough to make some right decisions and that their mother and I helped them along the way. Somehow, I always figured that was our job.

  34. J
    Paris Hilton

    @Bad Beaver

    Indeed, how did we survive the jungle out there!? My experience mirrors yours, I must have some exceptional genes myself too. I wish the pretty ladies would fall for that one, though...

  35. Neoc


    "I see a future where we all wear Running Man style exploding neck bracelets to keep the children and everyone else in their place."

    Wasn't the movie "Wedlock" with Rutger Haeur, instead of "Running Man" with The Governator?

  36. ryan
    Thumb Down

    welcome to five years ago.

    isn't it fairly simple to track a phone's position anyway? i used to do a bit of work for a company selling *exactly the same* product in a different plastic container. we marketed it to haulage companies, or companies that had employees out on the road, for tracking where they were (which probably did more to prevent children being abducted than bugging the kids, having seen some of the blokes in question). The product sank without a trace because no fucker wanted to be tracked 24/7

    regardless - if this item has a use it's for giving to outdoors types who might get lost in the woods (whilst hunting for unattended, unbugged children no doubt). it's always going to wok better as a voluntary safety measure option rather than a bug to plant on people.

  37. John

    flawed 2

    Aren't GPS satellites reset without notice? The cost is also prohibitive too. At £299 (almost the same as a sim free top end phone) and £240 pa to keep it connected, wouldn't it be cheaper to give the little darlings a jesusphone instead?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new here, move along please...

    Looks remarkably like the ANT device that Terrafix have been selling for the last couple of years...

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