7 Best GPS Kid Tracking Devices
One awful day, my son got lost.
We had taken a trip with our family friends on an old-fashioned steam engine train at Christmastime. The train stopped at a busy outdoor station, where we could eat lunch before boarding again.
Throngs of people milled around, and the parents in our group shepherded around six kids, stopping to look at menus in the different restaurant windows.
We came to a quaint old restaurant with stairs leading to a dining deck that was closed for the wintertime. The bottom floor of the place was hopping with customers, so I jogged up to the door to read the menu.
When I came back, one of my three-year-old twins, Drew, was gone.
“Where’s Drew?” I choked to my husband.
“I thought you had him!” he answered, pale-faced.
We immediately started calling for him, and the other parents in our group agreed to keep track of our kids while we separated to look for him. Five minutes later, we found him on the upstairs deck of that old building.
Afterwards, I couldn’t stop shaking and crying. He could have fallen off of that building; he could’ve been taken; he could’ve wandered away and into traffic. The possibilities were endless, and in those five minutes he was gone, I was convinced that I was never going to see him again.
That was five years ago, and it was before we had any knowledge of the incredible technology available to us through GPS tracking devices.
As a mom of twin toddlers who were always taking off in two different directions, having this technology would have spared me hundreds of gray hairs! If you’ve been considering a tracking device for your kid, but are overwhelmed by the choices, I’m narrowing them down for you (and for myself). Even though my kids are older now, they still want to wander, and I never want to have another excruciating moment like the ones at that train station.
Here are seven GPS tracking devices to help keep parents from going gray, as well as two Bluetooth devices, with a little less range if you’re in the market for a simpler, budget-friendly tracker.
This compact, wearable device hooks onto clothing or a backpack and comes equipped with two-way calling, safe zone alerts (if your child leaves the safe areas that you have predetermined on the device), frequent location updates through the free companion app you install on your phone, SOS alerts in case of emergency, and long battery life. It is also the only device that taps into the National Sex Offender Database and alerts you if your child is within 500 feet of a sex offender’s home.
Cost: $125 for the device, and a monthly service plan ranging between $15 and $1
The hereO GPS watch is great for kids with a fashion sense, because it comes in a multitude of different, fun colors. Whereas most devices are too bulky for a slender wrist, the hereO fits the wrists of kids as little as three years old. Some of its features include: a tamper alert feature that notifies all family members when the device is removed; an additional lock feature for children prone to removing the device; real-time tracking updates; check-in, check-out notifications of smart-safe zones (determined by the you); location history; school attendance; and much more. It is, however, important to note that there is no two-way calling feature on the hereO watch.
Cost: $199, free 3-month international service subscription with purchase. Thereafter, $4.95/month applies.
This rugged, splash-resistant, rubber wrist phone looks like a watch but doesn’t have the glass face. Instead of a screen, Tinitell features a single button in the middle, and a plus and minus button on the side. The watch uses voice recognition to allow children to call one of 12 pre-assigned phone contacts that you pre-program into your companion app.
For example, if a child presses the button that says (literally in his voice), “Dad,” the watch will call the pre-assigned number linked to that particular voice label. Tinitell wrist phones are also fitted with GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile mast technology, so that you can see at a glance exactly where your child is.
More advanced features are controlled by you via the accompanying smartphone app, which can be used to see the location of your children. Tinitell comes with their preferred service provider’s (Ting’s) SIM card, but you can purchase your own if you prefer to use a different provider.
Cost: $149.99, plus $9 monthly service fees if you use Ting
Pocket Finder is a durable, waterproof, pocket-sized device that helps you keep track of your little ones by relaying mapped coordinates of their location to the app on your smartphone, tablet or computer. It can be worn on the wrist or attached to a backpack, clothing or a keychain. Some of its features include: long battery life (up to four days); three different location utilities (GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular) for pinpointing accuracy; preset safe zones; speed detection; and an SOS alert button. Note that it does not have two-way calling capability.
Cost: $159, plus a monthly service plan for $12.95, as well as an international plan for $29.95.
The GizmoGadget, only available through Verizon, has the sophisticated look and feel of an Apple smartwatch, but comes in only two colors: red or navy blue. (Bands in other colors are sold separately). Features include: waterproof design; two-way calling with up to 10 contacts; personalized texting capabilities with emojis; fitness tracker that counts steps and reports activity; safe zone presets and notifications if your child leaves them; GPS tracking through the companion app.
Cost: $149.99, which includes a 2-year contract with Verizon
Like the GizmoGadget, this pared-down version has a sleek design, but it’s intended for younger kids. Waterproof and available in pink or turquoise (additional bands sold separately), it is a much more affordable option for parents just looking for the call and GPS tracking features (so no texting or fitness tracking, and you can only add four contacts). It does not show the time, but with the touch of a button, your child can hear what time of day it is.
Cost: $79.99, which includes a 2-year contract with Verizon
This slim device is small enough to fit in a pocket, or attach it to clothing, backpacks, or a keychain. What’s unique about it—and I love this—is that it has an accelerometer, so the device will alert you if, for instance, your teenage driver is going faster than the speed limit that you’ve predetermined (or if they’re somewhere they’re not supposed to be)!
Another different feature is that it uses augmented reality technology. (Using the camera in your smartphone, pan the phone around you. When you are pointing in the right direction, an indicator will appear showing the surroundings and distance from you to your child). Just like other devices, you can set up safe zones and alerts; locate your child in real-time with GPS; see a history of your child’s locations for the last 24 hours; and manage multiple trackers.
Cost: $99, with pre-paid service plans including 6 months for a total of $54, 12 months for $72, or 12 months for $96
The GPS trackers can be pricy, so if they’re not in the budget, there are some Bluetooth options – just keep in that mind their range of tracking is much lower. My Buddy Tag is perfect for keeping track of your kid in a store, playground or at the beach (since it’s waterproof).
It has a range of 40 feet indoors and 80-120 feet outdoors. You can set perimeters and get an alert if your child has left it (for instance, your backyard); it also has a panic button for if the child is scared or in trouble.
Its unique features include an alert when the device is submerged underwater for more than five seconds; a variety of wristband types (silicon or terry cloth) that are secured with a tiny lock; a last-seen location alert; and a personal ID embedded into the band that links the child with your home address and phone number.
Lineable is one of the most affordable Bluetooth options and that is due, no doubt, to its extremely simple design. It is engineered to last approximately one year from the time of purchase with a no-charging-required battery. The basic, silicon band is available in pink, orange, sky-blue and white and is dust-proof and water resistant. The range of the device is only 65 – 98 feet but what’s unique about it is that anyone else with the Lineable app who is within range of the device can assist parents in locating their missing child using what the company calls “crowdsource GPS.”
These are just a few of the devices out there, but whether you want a long-range tracker for older kids, or a short-range for younger ones, the market is loaded with technology that keeps kids more safe – and gives you priceless peace of mind.