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More Swedish parents track kids with GPS

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More Swedish parents track kids with GPS
Swedish parent Helena Hassler checks up on her children using GPS technology
16:17 CET+01:00
Thousands of Swedish parents choose to keep track of their children by help of their mobile phones, despite warnings from experts that this kind of surveillance could be an infringement on the children's privacy.

”It is a safety thing mainly, as my oldest daughter is out more at night on her own and it was useful recently when my youngest took a bus on her own to her grandparents,” Helena Hassler, mother of three, said to news agency TT.

The Stockholm-based family has been using a GPS system to keep tabs on their kids for about a year and so far the children, aged 13, 17 and 19, have had no objections.

”Mainly we've been using it to see where the kids are. You don't always have all the schedules memorized. This way you avoid making lots of calls,” Hassler said.

Interest in global positioning systems (GPS) has surged in the last few years and several companies are currently offering services tracing children's mobile phones.

Large mobile phone service providers in Sweden like Telenor and Tre have positioning services as part of their family deals and the company Lociloci is marketing the ability to track loved ones at all times in real-time, using geo-positioning.

”The interest is definitely most prominent among families with children,” Lociloci CEO Fredric Gunnarson told news agency TT.

Lociloci was created to help families to manage their daily life, the company writes on their web page.

”We don't expect to be seen as an alternative to good parenting. We are just offering parents an extra tool to make use of,” Gunnarsson said.

Mobile phone operator Tre is also offering a new service where parents can set an ”surveillance zone” for their kids. If the child ventures outside the area, a text message is immediately sent to the parent.

However, child psychologist Jenny Klefbom questions the use of these services.

”If you need to do this you don't have a good relationship with your child, What keeps kids safe is a good relationship with their parents, built on trust,” she told TT.

Making use of electronic surveillance systems could also lull the parents into a sense of false security, according to Klefbom.

”It is too simplistic a system. The only thing you can keep track of is where the child is. What's the thought behind that? That sex can only happen in a bedroom or that taking drugs only occur on Sergels Torg,” she said, referring to a square in Stockholm commonly connected with the drugs trade.

The only time it could be OK to keep tabs on one's child a bit more is if things have already deteriorated, for example if the kid has been involved with drugs, she explained.

”But even then it is crucial that the teenager understands why. That he or she knows that they have been given back some freedom in exchange for submitting to this control. To secretly track someone is never OK,” Klefbom told TT.

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