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Tracking Your Teenager
By Joanne Kimes and R.J. Colleary with Rebecca Rutledge, PhD,
Authors of Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom can I have the keys?" make you miserable

Once upon a time, a parent was left to their own creativity to come up with new and clever ways spy and snoop on their teenagers. Listen in on the extension phone? Sneak a peek at their personal diary? Check for contraband stashed in the underwear drawer? Your current teenager might actually injure themselves laughing at your Neanderthal ways.

"Wait a minute," your teen says, while gasping for breath, "Didn't they do those things on an episode of The Brady Bunch?"

Okay, already. I'm old. Don't rub it in.

Today's teens might dare you to try and crack the code of passwords protecting their blogs. Or snicker while you attempt to make sense of the net lingo shorthand on their text messages. And only underwear is in the underwear drawer. So, while your neighbor's cat has been "friended" poor old Mom is still waiting patiently on the "facespaceplace" page for her shout out.

Although technology is changing how we all live our daily lives, teenagers are still teenagers and parents still have to be parents and that means snooping and spying by whatever means necessary. You are on the job as a P.I. (Parental Investigator) and the P.I. job is not pretty. You will discover things about your teenager that you probably don't want to know. These can range from sexual activity, to drug and alcohol use to animal sacrifice. Okay, hopefully not animal sacrifice, but then again, you never know. Your teens are not kids anymore, they are transitioning into adulthood, and that means transitioning into adult areas. It's your job to know what your kids are doing and who they are doing it with. You must protect them from their worst enemy -- themselves. Snooping and spying are both your right and your responsibility as a parent and fortunately fabulous big brother type technology is gifting parents with fantastic new gizmos to accomplish this task on a daily basis.

You might have heard about computer monitoring keystroke software, which does the job of tracking your teen's visits to websites and following their online conversations. And while that's a good start for the novice P.I., we parents have even more tricks up our proverbial sleeves. For example, there is a SIM card reader that can be inserted into your teenager's cell phone to pull up deleted text messages and a variety of Google sites dedicated to unscrambling that wacky shorthand. 143, baby. Technology rocks! We now have portable lie detectors! Home breathalyzers! And GPS isn't just for satellites anymore, GPS systems exist that can be easily attached to your teen's cell phone, his wristwatch, or installed in their cars. Throw in a nanny-cam and you can even see who is in the car and what the heck they are doing with a few clicks on the computer. Parents, you can grab some popcorn and a soda and simply walk over go to your computer and watch the whole show. First check Susie's GPS location and then call Ryan's house and have him tracked too. Are they together? How close together? Are there any body parts touching? Are they at 7-11 or a seedy motel? Never again will they be able to tell you they are on the church retreat while really on their way to Mexico for a weekend get-a-way.

When it comes to locating this latest technology, look no further than your computer. There you'll find a gaggle of websites that will sell you everything you need to spy on your kid like a pro. The latest finds are GPS systems that alert parents when the device is taken outside of a designated safety zone (say two miles from your home). Coming soon is a device that will disengage cell-phones when the car is in motion and alerts anyone that calls that phone that the recipient is busy driving. There is also a special key from Ford which lets parents decide how fast their kids can drive, how loud the music can play, and even be alerted when the seatbelts aren't used. In these days of social websites and "sexting", parents need to have the upper hand. Technology works both ways kid. Game on.


Copyright © 2009
Joanne Kimes and R.J. Colleary with Rebecca Rutledge, PhD, authors of Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom can I have the keys?" make you miserable

Author Bios for Teenagers Suck: What to do when missed curfews, texting, and "Mom can I have the keys?" make you miserable
Joanne Kimes has written for a number of children's and comedy television shows. This is her eleventh Sucks book. She lives in Studio City, CA.

For more information please visit http://sucksandthecity.com/

R.J. Colleary attended Emerson College and moved to L.A. to become a writer for shows such as Saved by the Bell, The Golden Girls, and Benson. He teaches writing to graduate students at Chapman University and works steadily as a playwright. He has survived two teenagers and is currently surviving one more at home in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Rebecca Rutledge, PhD is a clinical psychologist who specializes in family therapy and individual therapy for children and adolescents. She writes columns for Your Health, Memphis Women's Journal, and the Shelby Sun Times, and lives in Memphis, TN.