Every year, thousands of children go missing. A report reveals that a child goes missing in the UK every 3 minutes and the travesty is getting worse. In many parts of the world, losing a child is not something we should be lackadaisical about. In mere seconds, a child could be removed from the watchful eye of parents, in mere hours, removed from the state or the country.
One of the better ways to keep watch over our young ones is with their smartphones. Data plans are getting cheaper and most smartphones nowadays have either GPS capabilities or data connections.
You might be a parent who is not keen on letting your child be exposed to a smartphone at too young an age, but bear with us and read on, these safety (free) apps may possibly change your mind.
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Sygic Family keeps your family safe by allowing you to check the real-time location and the battery levels of your family members’ smartphones. You can also track your children’s whereabouts, or have them check-in periodically to let you know where they are and if they have arrived at their destination safely.
The app also has an in-built messaging system which lets you send messages for free over an Internet connection. You can also set Safe or Unsafe zones – a notification will be sent to you when they enter or leave these zones. There is also an SOS button available in this app, which lets you send out your exact location at the tap of the button. You never know when you might need it.
Life360 has pretty much the same things Sygic has: GPS locations of your family members via their smartphones, a panic button, and alerts when some one enters a preset zone (e.g. gets home). It also lets you check where they have been (location history), where to get help in an emergency (hospitals, police stations), and allows you to have group chats.
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can still use this with a mobile phone at RM4.99 per month, for up to 5 mobile phones (only in the U.S.). A text message will be sent to them and once they consent to it, their location would be tracked and sent back to you. The app tries its best to not be a monitoring app but more of a communication tool to help bring families closer together and safer too.
Here is another great app for keeping your children safe; the difference is, it also helps keep your child safe online. MamaBear has a feature to keep watch over your child’s Facebook feed. You will be alerted to any signs of bullying or use of crude language as well as when they check-in or get tagged on their friends’ photos. The team is working on doing the same for Twitter and Instagram profiles.
Offline, you will receive alerts for when they leave a place, when they need to be picked up, when they are driving or riding past a certain speed limit, or when they explicitly need you in an SOS cry for help. This app will give you either peace of mind or great conversation starters on talking about speeding, truancy, open communication channels, and how to stay safe at all times.
Google Latitude is less of an app and more of a tracking tool. It allows you to see where your family members are on a map, and easily keep in touch with them. To use it, sign in to Google Latitude and start adding your family members via their Gmail contacts. When they accept, you can see their locations on Google Map on your phone.
Their locations will be at the background even when the app is closed or when your smartphone is locked. Android users have a widget they can setup. You can also get the app to check you in automatically at a preset place. As this is not restricted to family members you can use it to check just about anyone’s whereabouts, provided they are on Google Latitude.
This is the odd one out, but some parents may require this level of monitoring for their children. Receive alerts when your kids have been using their mobile phones in the middle of the night, when they add a new unrecognized contact, or when they download a new app. Parents will also get statistics about their children’s mobile usage, which they can use to set usage limits (premium account).
There is still the much sought-after location feature, with a slight twist. The SOS button and Check-In feature is in but more interestingly, the child can request for their parents to track their movement live via GPS tracking, something like remotely ‘walking’ them to their destination.
Here’s a nifty app that we hope parents never actually need to use, but in the case of a child that has been briefly separated from the parents in crowded or very large places, this may help them locate the child faster.
FBI’s Child ID App is designed by the FBI for parents to keep their children’s photos and important data, such as their height, weight, eye and hair color which can be emailed to the authorities at the tap of a button. The app also includes safety checklists and advice for parents to help keep thier children safe.