Critics slam device to spy on teenagers

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 21/07/2011
teen tracker
BEN WATSON/Stuff

KEEPING TRACK: North Shore businesswoman Donna Stewart with the GPS designed to track teens' driving habits.

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A tracking device that allows parents to monitor their teens' driving habits has been slammed as "a step too far".

The Trackstick Mini GPS keep track of a vehicle's speed and location history when plugged in, including the date and time.

When the device is plugged into a computer it shows where a vehicle has been via a red line across Google Earth satellite photos.

The device has previously been available in the United States but has hit New Zealand courtesy of North Shore businesswoman Donna Stewart.

But not everyone thinks the spy device is a good idea.

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Joseph Bergin says the approach is "a step too far".

"It's hard enough at home but when you're trying to escape from the house to catch up with mates, it's not something you'd want your parents to keep an eye on," the 19-year-old says.

"Teenagers are entitled to privacy."

But he agrees the GPS would be useful in monitoring young people's speed.

"When you have your restricted licence you're free to roam on the road, so that's a good thing," he says.

North Shore-based parenting organisation Parents Partner director Kaye McKean says trust between parents and children is paramount.

"I'd object to the covert use of it but parents must know what their children are up to," she says.

"Teenage crime statistics would suggest parents aren't monitoring their children but I firmly believe machines are not the answer."

Donna Stewart disagrees with claims that the tracker breaches privacy.

"Legally you're not allowed to use a tracking device on anyone unless they know about it or it's in your vehicle," she says.

"It's our right as parents to care about what our kids are up to. It's about building a trust factor with your kids."

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