Yes, you might argue strapping a GPS kid tracker to your child borders on creepy or invasive. Well, odds are your son or daughter hasn’t even read George Orwell, and we’re not talking inserting a microchip at his or her next checkup. There are good reasons why tracking devices for kids exist. Children as young as toddlers want their own space, yet parents are leery of loosening the proverbial leash on their location. For jittery (OK, fine, at times overbearing) parents worried about stranger danger, the best GPS trackers for kids can be a sanity-saver, while also giving their offspring a much-needed and heavily-desired sense of independence.
With that mind, when looking for GPS trackers, there are a few points to consider. Look for something that’s out of the way of your child’s life, as well as durable enough to stand up to his or her wear-and-tear. 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 a crucial factor, as the device is little more than dead weight if it dies by midday. But beyond all these, the most important consideration is your ability to calmly communicate with your child about expectations and limits. That, rather than lashing a small tracking device to your kid, might just be the hardest part.
Apple's newest watch is not only affordable, but it also has the Family Setup feature. If your kid doesn't have a phone, he or she can use the watch to make phone calls, send messages, and share their location with you. You can turn on location services, Siri, the emergency SOS feature, emergency contacts feature, route tracking, and family messaging in iCloud.
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.
For kids who are getting older and ranging farther, the TickTalk 3 piggybacks onto your existing cell phone plan ($10/month) to provide a variety of ways to stay connected, including video and voice calling and smart messaging. You'll also have access to his or her present location, along with route history, as well as multi-unit tracking for larger families.
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.
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.
While it has a max effective range of 400 feet, this Bluetooth tracker is small and unassuming. However, hit its app button and it emits a noise loud enough to scare the dickens out of your child. You'll also see his or her location, including the last point recorded. If your kiddo really gets in a jam, you can use its 'Notify When Found' function, which syncs up nearby phones running Tile to create a grid-like sweep until you kiddo pops up.
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