Even if you are a super-parent and have eyes in the back of your head, children have minds of their own and can sometimes wander away. While it’s hard to imagine this happening, it is important for your family to have a plan in case you need to react quickly to find a missing child, whether it’s on a family outing, field trip, or on the child’s way home from school.
One solution comes in the form of modern technology. There are now lightweight, wearable location devices designed specifically for kids. Safety wearables now come in a variety of convenient designs, from a disposable plastic band to a rechargeable watch that doubles as a cell phone.
With so many great options, it can be hard to find the wearable safety device that is perfect for your family’s needs and that fits your budget. Here are our top 10 contenders, in no particular order:
The FiLIP 2 is a wrist watch, GPS locator, and cell phone that works with an accompanying iOS or Android application. Its modern, light-weight, water-resistant design makes it a top choice in the children’s wearables market. FiLIP Technology released this new model in September 2014, making some significant improvements to the original design that make the device much more comfortable to wear on small wrists.
“We have an amazing, passionate customer base of parents and kids who shared a lot of great ideas on how we can improve FiLIP,” Jonathan Peachey, CEO of FiLIP Technology, said. “We took their suggestions to heart and have incorporated many of them into FiLIP 2.
Pros: The FiLIP 2 features a kid-friendly band. It can be worn open or closed and adjusted with spacers to remain comfortable as your child grows, making the device much more durable and functional. It is the only device of its kind on the market right now that allows for two-way text messaging, and it comes in four kid-approved colors.
Cons: FiLIP 2 pricing comes in around $149.99, plus a $10 monthly fee for phone service. The device only allows you to store and contact five numbers and only has one ringtone, which seems very limited for the cost. There have also been complaints that the application only updates your child’s location every 15 minutes, and that the location services are not as accurate as expected.
Tinitell, a single-button wrist phone and GPS/Bluetooth locator that makes calls using voice recognition, is a great middle ground for parents who want voice connection with their children without the bells and whistles of similar products. Tinitell got its start as a successful Kickstarter campaign that exceeded funding goals by over $40,000, with its first shipment sent in April. It comes with an accompanying iOS and Android application and can be used with a sim card from any cell service provider.
“Tinitell’s long-term advantage is that it’s always going to be the most simple option on the market,” CEO and Founder of Tinitell, Mats Horn, said. He is also proud that Tinitell “will work with any cell carrier in the world.”
Pros: Sleek design and easy-to-use single-button dialing make this the perfect option for young children. Knowledge of numbers and letters is not required to operate the call function; your child simply pushes the button and says the name of the person they want to contact. You can store an unlimited amount of numbers, unlike many competitors that limit contacts, and the phone comes with plenty of ring tones. The device is water-proof, radiation-proof, and is a battery-life super-star, with a charge that can last for up to a week.
Cons: Because Tinitell has not been on the market for as long as many of its competitors, we can’t be sure how it will live up to the hype that accompanied its Kickstarter campaign. We suspect there may be some kinks to work out after the first model is released. Its price is also on the steep end, with the first shipment priced around $129.99, and set to increase to $199.99. The monthly service fee is variable, as service is established through a chosen provider and is not mediated by Tinitell.
The HereO is a watch with GPS and GSM location services, and is a natural choice for parents who want GPS location, but aren’t keen on cell phone functions. The watch locator is paired with the HereO Family Application for iOS and Android, which allows all family members to see the location of mobile users and watch wearers. It is another crowd-funding superstar; its INDIEGOGO campaign raised 216 percent of its funding goal, with the first shipment received in December 2014.
Pros: The HereO watch is water-resistant, durable, and comes in four vibrant colors. Much thought went into the design of the device, and it is smaller and more fashionable than many similar products on the market. It has a tamper alert feature that notifies all family members when the device is removed, and an additional lock feature for children prone to removing with the device.
Cons: The battery life of the HereO watch is only 48 hours. Its steep price tag is a sticking point for some parents, considering it does not offer two-way calling. Though the first three months of service are included in the purchase price, there is a monthly fee of $4.95 for the GPS service.
For parents who want a lower-cost alternative to GPS, a Bluetooth device like the BeLuvv Guardian is a great option. The device is paired with an iOS/Android application that allows you to track your child within a 20-45 meter radius while at the playground or mall. The application also allows you to invite others to “co-guard” your child. BeLuvv is also a generous service, as for every two Guardians you purchase, one is donated to a family who cannot afford their own.
Pros: At a significantly lower price point, the BeLuvv is a more realistic option for people who want to track their child while in the same vicinity. It comes in three colors and weighs only 20 grams, making it much more comfortable for small children. One of its biggest advantages is that because it uses Bluetooth, it only needs to be charged once every three or four months.
Cons: The maximum 230-foot range of the Guardian is affected by environmental obstructions, like walls, and varies depending on location and whether you are inside or outdoors. Once the child is outside the range of your device, you must rely on other devices that are in range to pinpoint their location.
Another wearable children’s safety device that utilizes Bluetooth is My Buddy Tag. The My Buddy Tag is an affordable option for budget-conscious parents who want a safety backup plan. It also has a unique feature that alerts parents when the wristband is submerged in water for 5 consecutive seconds.
Willie Wu, creator of My Buddy Tag, had this to say: “My Buddy Tag helps prevent accidental drowning. There is no other device out there can also alert you when your child accidentally falls into a pool or lake.”
Pros: If you have several children, you can track them simultaneously and identify each tag by name using the application. The My Buddy Tag is waterproof and its wristband comes in a variety of designs. You can purchase disposable silicone wristbands for field trips, as well as Velcro or terry cloth wristbands for regular use. It is light weight compared with a GPS device. It also has a place to physically write contact information
Cons: The range for the device is 40 feet indoors, and 80-120 feet outdoors, so it is limited. The wristbands also leaves a bit to be desired aesthetically. They’re made of terry cloth materials, which can become soiled easily. We would love to see them offer a more durable plastic or silicon wristband for frequent wear.
This device uses GSM and GPS, and is a great choice for those searching for an extremely rugged location device that can be worn on the wrist or dropped in a backpack or pocket. If your child is prone to removing or breaking wearables, the PocketFinder is about as accident-proof as wearables come.
“Our product is made with the same plastic used in riot shields, and can withstand a trip through the washer and dryer,” Dave Morse, V.P. of Customer Service at Location-Based Technologies, said.
The PocketFinder features a unique “tap alert,” which allows children to send an SOS message by tapping the device three times on hard surface, as well as an accelerometer that alerts parents when a pre-set speed is exceeded.
Pros: PocketFinder is an excellent choice for those who travel abroad. They offer both a domestic (United States, Canada and Mexico) monthly service plan for $12.95, as well as an international plan for $29.95. If you know you are going on vacation, you can choose to modify your plan for as little as a week at a pro-rated cost. PocketFinder also boasts a battery life of up to four days.
Cons: The PocketFinder can appear somewhat clunky when compared to similar devices, and might not be the best choice for a child who prefers to wear he device on the wrist rather than in a pocket or backpack. While the device is rugged, it is not as sleek and comfortable as many devices of the same price.
Arguably the most affordable option on the market, the Lineable is a $10 Bluetooth-powered location device engineered to last approximately one year from the time of purchase. Its minimalist design and no-charging-required battery life make it an obvious choice for parents who want a bare-bones location device for the playground or a trip to the mall. Anyone with the Lineable Application that is within range of the device can assist parents in locating their missing child using what the company calls “Crowdsource GPS.”
“The Crowdsourcing GPS feature Lineable uses as its working system encourages not only the parents but also the general public to actively engage in making a safer world for kids by simply using the Lineable app,” Jane Kim, Lineable Marketing Manager, said.
Pros: The low price helps Lineable stand out from the competition, offering an extremely economical solution for parents on a budget. The device is waterproof, and coated in Silicone for comfortable, durable wear. Its battery life is also a huge selling-point.
Cons: The tracking range of the Lineable is somewhat limited, as with other Bluetooth devices. You can locate your child within 65-98 feet, depending on environment. The design is also less whimsical and kid-friendly, resembling a FitBit, but it could be argued this makes the device less obvious as a location device.
The PAXIE Band is a hybrid location device and activity tracker, giving parents a well-rounded view of the everyday life of their kids. Not only does it protect the immediate safety of children with GPS tracking, but it also protects their long-term well-being by encouraging them to live a more active lifestyle.
“We are the only GPS tracking device for kids that monitors ambient temperature, heart rate and activity tracking,” Evan Lazarus, CTO of SAFE Family Wearables, said. “The product is built from medical grade polyester, and the bands are made from antibacterial plastic, offering one of the safest products on the market.”
Pros: PAXIE Band comes with three interchangeable fashion bands, making it appealing to a wide variety of kids. Its ability to sense ambient temperature makes it effective for preventing heat stroke during summer months, and its band removal alert is ideal for parents who want to be notified if the band is no longer being worn. The device is button-free, so it would be a nice choice for kids who have a problem with “accidentally” pushing the panic button.
Cons: The price of the PAXIE Band is high at $175 and a monthly service fee of $9.99 (the first three months of service are complimentary). It is also a new product, with the first shipment to be sent in May of 2015, so there is a chance there could be some design hiccups. The cuff-like shape of the device also might be bulky for children with very small wrists.
The GizmoPal is an LG wrist-band cell phone available for purchase through Verizon Wireless. It uses GPS and the Verizon Cellular Network to locate and has a simple one-button calling feature, as well as an auto-answer feature that ensures parents can always get through to their children.
“We continue to center our design and innovation efforts around simplicity and, with GizmoPal, we’re bringing peace of mind to parents for one of their greatest treasures – their children,” LG said.
Pros: Voice prompts make it easy for young kids to use GizmoPal, and its water resistance and durable materials makes it rugged. For young children it is especially fun because it speaks the current time and has youngster-friendly ring-tones. Its price is also considerably lower than comparable devices at $49.99 and a monthly fee of $5.
Cons: Some parents have complained that the wristband is too short and does not accommodate larger and/or older children, as well as that the look of the device is better suited for younger children.
The Amber Alert GPS Locator is a safety device that offers two-way voice and comes with an embedded sim card from AT&T. It is water-resistant and can be worn around the neck on a lanyard, on the wrist, or placed in your child’s backpack.
“Given that our society has changed so much, with dual working parents and the emphasis on child safety, we hope to bring a little peace of mind to parents and a little bit of freedom to youngsters who are too young for a cell phone,” Mary Anne Keegan, CMO of Amber Alert GPS, said.
Pros: The Amber Alert GPS is the only safety location device that sends parents an alert when their child is within 500 feet of a registered sex offender. It also has an accelerometer that sends a notification when a pre-set speed is exceeded. AMBERAlert costs less than many competitors, and is a great bare-bones voice option. While AMBERAlert does charge a monthly fee, it offers parents flexibility with pricing based on their needs. You can opt for either $15/month for 150 SMS text alerts or $18/month for 300. Both packages include 2way voice, alerting via voice, text, e-mail and GPS tracking. You can opt-out of text alerts by purchasing the device from AT&T directly for $10/month. This doesn’t require you to be a current customer of AT&T, the device can be on it’s own account and your cell phone can remain with your current provider.
Cons: The device is limited in that it allows for only one primary voice contact.
As a parent, you have enough to worry about when it comes to keeping your children safe. Choose one of these 10 great technology tools to help you keep your kids safe and give you some peace of mind that you’ll have help finding them in the event of an emergency.
You may also be interested in…