Strapping a GPS kid tracker to your kid may seem a bit Big Brother, but childhood is all about lack of privacy, and odds are your son or daughter doesn’t even read George Orwell. The modern reality is that children are afforded unprecedented amounts of freedom, and within that space, there are myriad dangers, from those external to your child’s internal choices. That’s tracking devices for kids exist. Young children, even toddlers, want their own space, and these tech items establish boundaries and protections as a safeguard. For lovingly observant parents, the best GPS trackers for kids can be a balm on frayed nerves while extending offspring a much-needed sense of independence. So assuage your guilt, and remember that objecting children will have their chance to rebel when they get to that ivy-covered college for which you’ve been saving.
When looking for GPS trackers, search for an option that’s out of the way of your child’s life. Durability is another factor, as kids tend to play rough. An SOS button offers great peace of mind should they get into unexpected trouble, while boundary alerts are a godsend as you’re loosening the leash. Finally, battery life is crucial, as the device is little more than dead weight if it dies by recess.
But let us add that more important than any one device is your ability to calmly communicate with your child about expectations and limits. These conversations, more than the latest tracking device for kids, can work wonders while rendering your new GPS dongle little more than a redundancy. In the end, it’s more about trust than the tech.
This keychain-style device is powered through many's cell phone provider, allowing you to bundle its service fee into your monthly bill. (Of course, 12 months are included, so you won't have to sweat it for the first year.) It has 10 feet of water resistance, a super-long battery life, and geofencing.
AngelSense has been a favorite of ours when it comes to performance, and with a recent update, which makes its battery last 30 percent longer while adding an SOS call and fall detection, it's better than ever. Of course, these features only add to its laundry list of functionality, including live location tracking, non-removable wearing (great for kids with special needs; it unlocks via key), speakerphone, geofencing, and even a school bus monitoring. The downside: While it's cheaper on the front end, it requires a $33/month fee for monitoring.
Waterproof, camera-enabled, and running off 4G, the Tracker Pro provides multiple redundancies that allow you to contact and track your child. Along with calls, messaging, SOS button, and geofencing, your child is concurrently tracked via GPS, LBS, and WiFi for precision. If one goes down, the others are quietly humming in the background.
With its carabiner-like design, it attaches to your child on obvious or hard-to-reach locations alike. Then, powered by a three-day battery, it gives off a signal strong enough to be detected from up to three miles away, making it ideal for use in amusement parks, zoos, and other large gatherings. The best part: It's not smartphone-service dependent, but rather operates with a unit you yourself hold on to. It has a 'home base' function for lunchtime meetups and end-of-day rendezvous.
Apple's latest fitness-wearable-slash-watch is both affordable and tailor-made for tracking your kiddo through its Family Setup feature. Mounted on his or her wrist, your child can use it to call, message, and share a location, even without an iPhone present. Siri is also there for hands-free functionality, along with an SOS command, emergency contacts, family messaging, and the list goes on. If you've found a Watch functional, so will your child.
This top-rated and very small tracker (minuscule enough to attach to your kid's shoelaces) clips onto clothing and shoes, and lets parents know not just where their kids are but who they're with. It uses Bluetooth, WiFi, cellular, and GPS data to track your kids. It pairs with the parent's smartphone to provide real-time location information and geofencing data. Plus, parents invite other adults to their 'care team' and thus, know exactly who their kids are with at any given time. Note that this tracker requires a subscription plan; the battery lasts about a day and a half.
Both a walkie-talkie type phone and a GPS tracker, this device combines the best of both worlds. You can use this screenless phone to communicate with your kids via another unit or through your smartphone, and use the associated app to always know where they are. Plus, parents set up geofences for home or school and get automatic notifications when kids get to or leave those areas. Note: The service costs $10 per month. You can add up to 10 Relays to your account, so this is great if you have multiple kids out and about. Finally, right now the company is selling refurbished models, which may not be new-in-box, but you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at them.
Specifically designed for kids who tend to wander off at times, this GPS tracker has an auto-answer functionality that automatically lets you talk to and listen to your kids whenever and wherever they are. There's unlimited live location tracking, customizable geofencing, detailed location histories, and alerts that tell you if they missed the bus. The monthly plan is $39.99 per month, and includes a SIM card, unlimited tracking, and 60 voice minutes. The tracker has fasteners that kids can't remove. The battery lasts about 48 hours.
You can use this thing to track whatever you want, but if you're gung ho about knowing your kid's location, it will deliver. You'll get alerts when your kid steps outside of pre-approved zones. And the battery will last up to two days using real time 1-5 minute updates. It weighs one ounce, clips onto your kid's backpack, and has an SOS button. You have to pay a monthly fee of up to $20, but there's no price tag on piece of mind. Or so they say.
We love a good piece of tech wizardry as much as the next parent, but if your child is already fused with his or her iPhone, then the Find My Kids app may be the best option. Installed on your kid's device (and with protections to make sure he or she can't turn it off or delete it), it tracks his or her movements with geofencing, as well as sounds a literal alarm bell if your child has muted his or her phone. That will certainly catch his or her attention. It's a monthly fee, but rather affordable.
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