While the first real satellite navigation system was developed by the US Navy in 1959, it wasn’t until 30 years later that the Magellan Corporation release the first handheld GPS device for consumers, the Magellan NAV 1000. Nearly 25 years later, we are using this widespread technology everyday, from Google mapping our commute to driving self-navigating cars.
Since our focus is on parenting this month, we’ve selected our top five GPS-trackersg for kids. Whether you prefer your tracker to be worn on the wrist, clipped onto a backpack, or one that features texting and calling (or one or the other — or neither!), we’ve got you and your loved ones covered.
The Guardian Angel from Ardi is the ideal locator for a family with multiple small children. The unit comes with up to four multicolored ladybug shaped locator tags that can be attached to clothing.
Instead of utilizing GPS, the tracker operates on a close proximity radio system that alerts the parent when a child (or children) has wandered a set distance away. Locate your little one by simply sweeping the Master receiver over your head until it lights up green, then follow that direction.
With up to three alarm distance settings, the device is also triggered on the child so they know that they are wandering too far from mom or dad- potentially a handy learning opportunity for the little one.
Again, keep in mind that this gadget is best for smaller children who can’t really wander that far in the first place — think playground or supermarket. The Angel probably wouldn’t be the best choice for an older kid, or one who is more intent on getting lost. However, at only $55 for two trackers and $75 for 4, the Guardian Angel is a cost-effective cute little device that does its job well.
FiLIP 2 is a combined wearable locator and phone that comes in the form of an adjustable wristwatch, available in four fun colors. The device hooks up to an app on the parent’s phone and, using “a unique blend of GPS, GSM, and WiFi,” provides an accurate location reading of a child. Furthermore, the app allows for creation of multiple child profiles.
The phone portion of FiLIP lets the parent preset up to five phone numbers which can be dialed quickly with a tap of a button. Of these contacts, you choose which are “emergency contacts,” meaning that they have the ability to locate and text your child and will also be included in a call rotation should the emergency button be pressed. That’s right: Flip is also capable of text messaging, albeit strictly limited to incoming messages.
FiLIP is compatible with both iOS and Android and is powered by 4G speeds, ensuring connectivity at all times. However, this piece of mind does not come cheap. Though currently down to $149 from an original retail price of $199, parents are still required to pay a $10 monthly phone fee.
Oh, and despite all the added specs, it still functions as a basic wristwatch.
The AmberAlert GPS tracker is accurate up to five-feet and updates location information every five minutes — frequently enough to give reliable data yet long enough to preserve battery life. Features include two-way calling, text alerts, and the ability to set up to 20 safe-zones that send notifications to a companion app when they have been crossed. An SOS button provides the child an immediate way to let their parent know they are in need of help, whether it be medical or otherwise.
The device itself is available in four colors and looks like a garage door opener, weighing just less than 2.5 ounces. The $125 bundles come with an attachable carrying pouch, lanyard, and wrist/ankle band, giving it a unique level of wearable versatility. A $15 and $18 monthly fee comes with 150 and 300 SMS text alerts, respectively.
One spec that really makes this device stand out is that it will alert the parent when a child comes within 500 feet of a registered sex offender, which may be a especially handy in densely populated areas.
Paxie may be the only GPS-enabled kids tracker that also functions as a health monitor. Not only does the colorful antibacterial band provide location tagging, boundary setting abilities, and GPS tracking, it also monitors daily activity, temperature, and even heart rate. All metrics are compacted into an aesthetically pleasing companion app. Furthermore, the device can sense when a child has taken it off, a pretty unique and incredibly pragmatic feature other wearable locators seem to have overlooked.
Parents can choose from three band colors and the fact that the device has no need for an SOS button that can be accidentally pressed is highly worthwhile.
However, all this functionality does not come cheap. Paxie is currently available for pre-order for $175, not including the $10 monthly fee that will be billed to you after your first three free trial months.
HereO is our favorite wrist-worn GPS tracker for kids when it comes to style. It is the smallest real-time GPS device “100% custom-made for children” and comes in a variety of designs and colors that remind us of Jolly Ranchers.
The hereO family app gives access to all members who want in, allowing them to share each others locations as well as tracking children’s locations historically throughout the day. The watch also features an easy accessible panic button and the ability to set geo-fenced safe-zones. It lacks the calling capability some other wrist wearables like the aforementioned Filip 2 have, so its $149 price tag will have to be weighed against its other features- although the Hello Kitty version may just be worth the price.
Every parent has gone through that sky-falling-in moment when their child has wandered away, and these devices are helpful in providing an immediate proactive solution to this age-old situation. They are especially useful for kids that just won’t stay put, or families residing in urban areas, parents with multiple children… come to think of it, they seem pretty useful for all parents. Small price to pay for soundness of mind.