Kid-friendly GPS devices can give parents peace of mind

TAMPA, Fla. – Every parent knows the panic – you turn for an instant, and your child is gone. It’s happened to Rachel Semago.

“I’m usually yelling, freaking out, but luckily its never been for a minute or two,” she says.

Even veteran law enforcement officers, like former Tampa Chief of Police Jane Castor, have had it happen. Castor says her children gave her a fright during a trip to Disney.

“Your children are standing next to you, and all the sudden you look over and they’re not there – that sheer panic,” says Castor, continuing, “and your motherly instincts take over.”

Now, improved GPS technology with increased cellular enhancement makes it possible to track kids indoors. 

A number of companies market small, lightweight kid-friendly GPS trackers. They’re often designed as watches or backpack tags and offer frequent and reliable updates on your child’s whereabouts. The devices can last a day or two when charged and some offer advanced features including geo-fencing or SOS buttons that give quick access to pre-programmed contacts.

Semago says the features could be useful in her household, due to the precocious personality of her 6-year-old daughter.

“She’s never been lost, but she has hidden from me on purpose, because she does think its fun to get in the clothes rack at the store,” says Semago.

The products’ features, ease-of-use, and costs, vary, but most are priced between $100 and $200. Some of the devices require subscriptions or monthly data fees.

Law enforcement professionals say the GPS devices can be useful tools that help parents have as much information as possible.

Says Castor, “There’s no harm in the tracking, especially if you’re in a situation where you aren’t able to be with your child on a continual basis.”

Castor adds, however, that in any situation where a parent feels that their child has gone missing, the police should be notified. Each case will initially be treated as a missing persons case, although the vast majority of them are not.

Tom’s Guide conducted extensive testing of kid-friendly GPS devices. You can read more here.

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