Big Brother

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Marketing professionals know that Japanese people worry about their children’s safety and education. Anything can be sold if it reassures parents that their little ones are going to be safer or will get into the good schools.

This season several new products and services are available revolving around cell phones. One system will track a child’s location through the cell phone’s GPS. At anytime you can request your child’s location. Also, if the child activates the phone’s alarm system, then every minute for 15 minutes a GPS location and a camera image are transmitted to the parent’s phone. If the phones are being used for automatic payment of train and bus fares, some companies are providing services where the parents receive a notice when their child passes through the turnstile.

One school has the children put an electronic tag in their pack and equipment at the gate lets parents know if their kid enters or leaves the school. The idea is to see that they arrived safely and to know when to expect them home.

Plans are in the works for a number of other tracking locations. I haven’t heard anyone mention the downside of being constantly trackable. These conversations always revolve around the great peace of mind to be gained. The idea of fearing Big Brother is very American.

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3 Responses to “Big Brother”

  1. sunkissd1 Says:

    Actually that’s a very cool idea, especially when dealing with their safety. There was a company here several years ago that had created a device that had a gps-similar device in a wristwatch so you could look up the location of your child (roughly) if you were signed up for the service. It also had a panic button if I remember correctly. The downside was the cost of the unit…off the top of my head I want to say $350-500, which would obviously be cost prohibitive for families with more than one child.

  2. びっくり Says:

    Oh, but you can’t put a price on the value of your child’s safety. 😉

    The weak point of the alarm systems Japanese children typically carry is the ease of removal. They have stiff leather packs and love to fasten their alarms on those – completely out of reach. If I were an evil kidnapper, I would grab them by the pack and throw them in the get away vehicle. Of course the pack would be out the door just seconds later.

    The radio devices the school was using were also put in the packs, so they are really tracking the pack rather than the child.

    Of course, security is a difficult thing to obtain in this world and any system can be defeated one way or another. Teaching kids to be aware, make wise decisions, and know some self-defense are probably better tools; however, many people don’t have the stomach or the heart to follow through on steps that really take away a lot of their innocent enjoyment of life.

  3. Big Brother is Good « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] last year I wrote about using cell phones to track your children’s locations. Well, now they are pushing tracking of adults. Zurich (チューリッヒ), […]

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