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The Best Tracking Devices and GPS Trackers for Kids

Peace of mind for you. Independence for them.

Yes, you might argue that tracking your kids borders on creepy, or invasive. And you might be right. But there’s a reason that tracking devices for kids even exist. Children want their own space, yet parents are leery of loosening the proverbial leash. For jittery (OK, fine, at times overbearing) parents worried about stranger danger, GPS trackers for kids can be a sanity-saver, while also giving offspring a much-needed and heavily-desired sense of independence. They can also be extremely helpful if your distracted kid wanders away from you in a massive park, or a vast parking lot.

Like their vehicular counterparts, kids’ GPS trackers transmit data to let you know where your offspring are at any given moment. The best trackers are unobtrusive, hold a charge for a solid amount of time, and transmit data in real time so you always know precisely where your kid is located. Plus, they let you set up geofencing boundaries and alert you if your kid leaves that area.

But before we press the panic button, a few stats to keep in mind. Per the FBI, on average, fewer than 350 people under the age of 21 have been abducted by strangers in the United States per year since 2010. According to the nonprofit Polly Klaas Foundation, three percent of children are abducted annually by non-family members and 99.8 percent of missing children come home.

With that mind, when looking for GPS trackers, pay attention to size: You probably want something unobtrusive. SOS buttons are key, as is the ability to see when your kids enter and leave pre-approved zones. And of course, battery life is important. You don’t want a tracker that conks out in an hour.

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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 screen-less phone to communicate with your kids, 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. The device clips on to backpacks or jackets. It's understated and looks pretty cool. 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. Plan on charging the battery daily.

This watch is a GPS tracker, sure. You can track your child in real time using the app, and set geofencing boundaries limiting where your kids can and cannot go. Plus, you'll be notified when your kid steps outside of them. But you can also text your child, call your child, and get endless numbers of poop emojis while you're at work. It has a battery life of up to four days.

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.

This sneaky little tracker attaches to your kid's backpack, and has a battery life that lasts up to five days on a single charge for continuous monitoring. It's also waterproof. You can use it for indoor or outdoor monitoring, and you can create zones that will automatically alert you when your kid leaves it. Or enters it. Kids can also send an SOS. You need the AT&T LTE-M network service to use this, but you get one year free at the outset.

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.

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