GPS Tracking For Kids

by Joe Mueller on February 9, 2009

Check out one of the smallest and most powerful GPS trackers for children: AmberAlert GPS

If you have ever found yourself wishing that you knew at any moment where your child was with an accuracy of up to 3 meters, then GPS tracking for kids might be something that you want to take a look at.  GPS has been around since the 80s when it was released for public use (before the Global Positioning Satellite system had been reserved solely for the military), but has only recently been made available for use by private persons for the tracking of the people closest to them – their children.

Before GPS tracking devices were simply too bulky to be of much use on a child – they were either too heavy to be safely and continuously carried, too large to be of much use for covert, safety oriented tracking, or they were too inaccurate to be of much help to consumers or their kids.  All this has changed in the last 5-10 years as technology has become increasingly smaller and more efficient.

Let me explain this with a similar bit of technological breakthrough that we have had in the same amount of time – namely that of computer storage. 10 years ago it would have a pipe dream to have a desktop computer with 160 GB of storage space – now iPods come with that much memory.  In the same way that computer technology in general has advanced so rapidly, GPS tracking technology has made leaps and bounds as well – becoming increasingly smaller, more power, more efficient, and more accurate.

All of these changes have been good for parents looking to keep tabs on their children with a technological solution.  But this begs the question, why should any child be tracked with GPS?

Reasons to Choose GPS Tracking For Kids

As far as I can tell, there are three main reasons to use GPS tracking for your kids: safety concerns, behavior problems, and paranoia.

Safety is probably the main reason most parents are going to want to use GPS to keep tabs on their children.  They want something that will quickly and accurately locate their child at a moments notice.  Is the child supposed to be at home but hasn’t been heard from in over an hour?  Are they supposed to be at Tim’s house to hang out after school and do some homework but a call to Tim’s parents reveals that your child never arrived?  Do you worry that something could happen to your child as they wait for you after baseball practice in the park by the canyon?  If any of these situations have happened to you then you know that you wish there was some way to find out where you child is right away.  GPS tracking for kids can provide accurate and reliable information for you in a way that is actionable and useful.

Take a moment and imagine that your child did not come home on time like you were expecting, fear is gripping you as you wait by the window for their arrival.  It could be that they simply hung around too long after school playing tether ball with their friends or took too long in the park as they cut across it on their way home.  You want to find out where your daughter is right now.  You run to your computer and you log in to your child’s GPS tracking watch provider to get a look at their position.  Your heart breathes a sigh of relief as you see that they are on their way home traveling at 2 mph about 2 blocks from home – they must have lingered too long at the park.

Now imagine that same situation where you find that your child is traveling 65 mph on a major highway heading away from home?  You’d dial 911 in an instant and you could be able to give the police some seriously useful information that would likely lead to the recovery of your child – all thanks to a GPS tracking device in your child’s backpack.

Another important reason to use GPS tracking for kids in some circumstance is behavioral problems or mental disabilities.  A child that is prone to wander because they suffer from some sort of behavioral or mental disorder is someone that you want to find and find quickly.  Short trips to the supermarket, or family vacations, or even simple trips to the park can become living nightmares as you search frantically for the child that has wandered off and slipped out of your site.  Child locators, a certain type of GPS tracking device, work great in this situation where quick feedback without the use of computer is necessary.  They are not always the best solution for families since they do have some issues and cell phones are becoming internet capable in a big way – making the obstacle of internet access to use location information much smaller.

And the final reason to get a GPS device to track your child is because you are paranoid and need to find someway to calm your own fears just a little bit.  The fact is that the vast majority of children have no need for GPS tracking.  They will go through their lives and never need the safety of always having their location just a moment away from being known by their parent.  Running a little late, being alone at a park after baseball practice, and playing hooky with a friend instead of being where they are supposed to be are all  normal activities for kids to be doing at some point in their life.  You probably did the same thing and your parents didn’t need a GPS device to keep tabs on you.

However, if you are person who works in Mexico City or some other place that routinely has kidnappings then it might be a good idea to get a GPS tracking device for your children so that when Man on Fire happens to you and your family, your Denzel Washington will be able to kick the crap out of the bad kidnappers who stole your Dakota Fanning.

Now that we have established three legitimate reasons to go out and purchase some sort of GPS tracking device for your child, it  begs the question, “What devices can I get that will provide GPS tracking for kids?”

Device That Use GPS Tracking For Kids

There are three main devices that you are going to find around the web and in stores that will assist you in keeping tabs on your child: gps tracking watches, covert GPS trackers, and kids GPS phones.

GPS tracking watches are a small, reliable, and kid friendly option for parents seeking to use GPS tracking with their children.  These devices are exactly what their name sounds like – they are a GPS tracking device that fits on the wrist of your child.  There are a couple of different brands available, but none of them are household names (certainly not Garmin, TomTom, or Magellan if that is what you were hoping for – though Garmin does offer a fitness GPS watch).  Some of the watches look a little funky, but in general they do provide you with what you are expecting.

In general, a GPS watch for kids is going to look a little bulky on their wrist, have some extravagantly ugly colors, and will probably throw up warning signals to any would be villain to get rid of the watch ASAP.  These devices are probably not as easy at GPS phones to get your child to use, but being attached at the wrist may make them less likely to be randomly lost.

The next option for parents to consider is covert GPS tracking for kids.  Again, there are a variety of different implementations to consider when going the covert route.  Do I go with a GPS in the shoe, teddy bear, coat, or backpack?  Do I go with a build in device or do I find something that I sew or attach myself?  How you answer these questions will determine what product you purchase.

The amount of information that you are going to get with a more covert approach to tracking is the same as what you would find with a a tracking watch, but the idea is that these covert trackers will escape detection for a very significant period of time.  If the device is hidden well enough in a “necessary” piece of equipment or apparel then you are almost certain that you will be able to find your child in any and all circumstances.

And finally, we have kids GPS phones.  These are kids cell phones that have integrated GPS technology so that they can get an accurate read on the phones position under almost any circumstance provided that the phone is on.

This combination of cell phone and GPS technology is very powerful.  A GPS signal will be able to give position information if the phone cannot use cell towers to establish a location, and cell towers can establish a location when a direct line of site with the sky has been obstructed by a car trunk, cement wall, or mound of dirt.  The cell phones power is in its usability in almost every circumstance.

This power is also its greatest weakness when considering it as a GPS tracking device for kids.  Everyone and there mother knows that cell phones can be used to communicate position information to the authorities.  This means that it is often the first thing to go if your child is in an emergency situation.  Kids GPS cell phones must be kept quiet and used very wisely by your child if it is to be effective at recovering them from something horrible.

In most normal conditions, kids GPS phones are great because they also let you talk directly with your child.  If they are late coming home, simply call them and ask them where they are – if what they tell you is different from what you computer is saying then you can deal with your child as you see fit.  The power to do so is now in your hands.

A Final Word On GPS Tracking For Kids

One thing that I haven’t mentioned yet but is very pertinent to our discussion here is the GPS tracking for kids costs money.  You are going to have to go in up front for a tracking device (whether it is a GPS tracking watch, covert GPS tracking device, or a kids GPS phone) and you are probably going to be hit with a reoccurring service charge every month to be able to use the tracking capability on the device.  This can add up to big money for a family already strapped for cash.

My advice is to think very carefully about using GPS tracking for kids and to only use it if it makes real sense given your family’s unique set of circumstances.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 gps watch children February 13, 2009 at 11:45 am

There’s an increasing tendency towards this technology in the USA. Unfortunately, despite the global availability of GPS this type of product has failed to attract widespread interest in mainland Europe. With high profile cases such as Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, this type of device can help to solve child abduction cases.

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2 Joe February 13, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Hi GPS Watch Children,

That is interesting that Europeans have been lagging in their acceptance of GPS tracking for kids. Do you have any idea why this is so?

My only guesses as to why would be the following: (1) they think that using GPS for the purpose of tracking children is superfluous and unnecessary because children will be children and can be looked after in other ways. (2) GPS tracking isn’t the solution but instead parents and communities should band together to look out for the best interest of the children. (3) GPS tracking won’t work the way most parents want it too – meaning that when parents want to use it most might be the time when they simply can’t because the device has been discarded. Or (4) they aren’t educated enough on the possibility of using GPS to track children.

I don’t know the answer (and maybe it is a combination of them all), but there has got to be a reason why.

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3 Carnival of Family Life February 27, 2009 at 6:48 am

This post was featured in the Carnival of Family Life.

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4 Norbert Haas August 18, 2009 at 12:35 pm

There is actually a GPS locator watch coming up from Lok8u (www.lok8u.com) that actually locates your child and not the device. It should give kids the freedom to play and parents the peace of mind they need.
Check it out.

Norbert

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5 Joe August 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Hi Norbert,

Thanks for the comment, but what you say doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

How does the watch track the child and not itself? What happens when the watch is taken off the child, can it still track the child then? Is there some mystical magical force within the watch that somehow tracks the consciousness of the child and communicates this data to some seers at lok8u?

Please only provide actual information in the comments and not blatantly false information. You make people not want to do business with lok8u.

Thanks,
Joe

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6 Neret March 28, 2012 at 5:40 am

LOL, this is by far the most nonsense post ever. Plus lok8u website is so dodgy, it’s incredible. I’d never ever buy anything from them.

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7 Yan November 2, 2009 at 5:39 am

Hi ,
I wan to buy the kid tracking for my daughter. In china, some commit will steal or allure kid to some place , and sell out the kid, it is so scared for parents.I wan import such watch kid tracking products for china market. would you pleast let me know how much that will cost.
you can send email to me for further dicuss.
thanks

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8 Joe November 4, 2009 at 4:15 am

Hi Yan,

I was unaware that child kidnapping was such a big deal in China! I could not even begin to understand what it would be like to have your child stolen and then sold into slavery somewhere. What a terrible situation.

Unfortunately, I don’t actually make or sell any GPS tracking devices for children. I am also unfamiliar with any GPS tracking companies in China – but I would think in a nation so large that there are some companies who do provide that type of service. If push came to shove, I assume that most of the tracking devices that you might be able to buy in America would also work in China – but I cannot confirm that this is true.

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9 carol dunn November 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

i would like to track on my child

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10 Joe November 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Hi Carol,

If you are interested in tracking your child I would recommend finding a solution that works best for you in your situation. What exactly are you looking for in a tracker for your child?

-Joe

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11 jeanine June 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I have a 12 yr old non verbal autistic son and I live in South Africa my son goes missing on a to regular basis and by the grace of God we have always several hours later found him. We have none of the technology that you guys in Europe have my question is if they have tracking for animals but not for people like my son or people that suffer from old timers sorry could not spell the right word

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12 Joe June 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

Hi Jeanine,

There are some options available for those in your shoes, some of them jury rigged and some of them specifically designed to work for exactly the application that you have in mind. For example, GPS tracking watches like the Keruve 2010 GPS Watch are perfect for this type of thing, giving you the ability to track an Alzheimer patient or a young child with an illness.

If that is not available in your area (which I don’t think it is) you might be able to get away with getting a cell phone that has GPS in it. Then, you can just install some GPS tracking software on it and you should be good to go as long as your son will take the cell phone with him – which may or may not be very likely.

Then there is always a short range GPS tracking device like the Garmin Astro GPS Tracker for Pets. While this is used for pets, it can have ranges up to five miles depending on the terrain type. If you are a city dweller, it might work for a mile or so. The only problem with this device is that it is designed for dogs, not for people.

Hopefully one of these would work for you or you can find some other non-technological method to help you son!

-Joe

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13 nasrat shah February 11, 2011 at 3:40 am

i want to use the chip for my kids.

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14 Dejvid (David) Dimitrijevik April 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Dear Sir or Madam,
Being able to provide a device to track your child or older person, etc. is an amazing safety device but also a potential enormous business opportunity. I currently live and work in Dubai as a Director of Operations in an Aviation Management and Transportation company and I am very interested in starting a business that will be successful but at the same time help many people prevent their kids getting lost or kidnapped, etc. As far as I understand you are not selling any particular product so at this time I would like to ask you for your advise (price versus quality) on whom I should contact and request the dealership right for the region of former Yugoslavia (where I am originally from) but wider as well. Can you please let me know the 3 best GPS tracking devices/companies that can provide a reliable WORLDWIDE tracking with accuracy inside and outside.

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15 Eugene Meaney June 20, 2011 at 8:41 am

Hi,
I am very interested in starting a business that will be successful in GPS tracking but at the same time help many people prevent their kids getting lost or kidnapped, etc. As far as I understand you are not selling any particular product so at this time I would like to ask you for your advise (price versus quality) on whom I should contact and request the dealership right for Ireland but for wider as well. Can you please let me know the 3 best GPS tracking devices/companies that can provide a reliable WORLDWIDE tracking with accuracy inside and outside

Regards

Eugene Meaney

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16 Dr. Vinay July 1, 2011 at 2:33 am

Being able to provide a device to track elder people with dementia as well kids, etc. is an amazing safety device but also a potential enormous business opportunity. I currently live and work in India as a Head Operations in Health Management and Researh Institute and I am very interested in starting a business that will be successful but at the same time help many people prevent their kids getting lost or kidnapped, etc. As far as I understand you are not selling any particular product so at this time I would like to ask you for your advise (price versus quality) on whom I should contact and request the dealership right for the region of India but wider as well. Can you please let me know the 3 best GPS tracking devices/companies that can provide a reliable WORLDWIDE tracking with accuracy inside and outside.

Looking forward your response

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17 TrishaSmith December 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

Parents choose GPS tracking for kids for a number of reasons. Most important is the safety of their children. Child abductions are all too prevalent on the news in recent years. A GPS tracking for children device is a valuable defense against child abductors. Further, some children, if not most, have a habit of wandering off. The idea of my children being harmed or lost is not something anyone wants to consider. I found an article by anationofmoms about a service that can protect your family and can track them via your cell phone. And, at the bottom there is an opportunity to enter a drawing for 6 months of that service just by liking them on Facebook.

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18 Dan Graham February 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

You here about all these kid nappings getting scary, I fear for my grandkids and all kids ,they need some kind of defense and gps makes sense ,not sure about the watch seems easy for a kid napper to rip it off. And short distance told dont seem smart ,something kids can hide in a shoe or clothing make more sense to me is there that option and were can you purchuse it
Thank you dan

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