Need to catch that sprog? Keeping track of children is becoming much easier thanks to kids wearables. While there are plenty of smartwatches for kids on the market, you need GPS for tracking. With a GPS system you can pinpoint the exact position of the person you're looking for using a map on your smartphone or tablet.
Real life test: Parents and kids test out three GPS trackers
Some models also offer geo-fencing, an electronic barrier drawn on a digital map which, when breached, immediately alerts the parent or guardian. There are also devices that include cellular connectivity so kids can make an SOS call to a designated number from their smartwatch.
These are the best kid trackers you can buy...
The Tinitell is two things: a kids GPS tracker with live map monitoring using a smartphone app and a water-resistant, voice-recognition wrist phone. Designed in Sweden, the rubberised watch works with any micro SIM card and in any country bar Japan, South Korea and North Korea.
The gist is simple: When a wandering kid is lost or needs to make contact with someone, he or she simply pushes the front fascia button and speaks the name of the recipient. Voila, call connected. It is, to all intents and purposes, a genuine standalone phone, and arguably the smallest one on the planet. It's also a great Star Trek-style communication gizmo for adventurous kids. Available in coral, aqua, charcoal and indigo.
One of the newest kids' watches on the scene, The Gator is a UK version of a popular Chinese children's smartwatch. If communication is your main concern, it offers 12 month or rolling contracts for its multi-network plans that use whichever signal is strongest. So you should always be in contact with your kids.
There's also GPS and features like geo-fencing so you can set up areas such as home, school and park with alerts once they leave these perimeters. The watch itself weighs 40g, is splashproof, has a bunch of physical buttons and has a four day battery life. Available in blue and pink, natch.
The AngelSense is one of the more popular and beloved kids GPS trackers out there, and for good reason. This thing is packed with features. You can see your kids routes and transit speed, you'll get notified when they're coming home late or if they're in a new place and you can listen in to their environment.
One of the newer features is AngelCall, which will allow you to instantly call and speak to your child if you need to. On top of all of that, AngelSense is available on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Rogers, making it quite accessible in the US and Canada. One potential caveat, all these extra services will cost you. It's $45 a month for service, then $9 for AngelCall and ListenIn each.
The Filip 2 offers two way communication; this time using a 2G connection, to five pre-assigned numbers. The stored numbers can also send messages to the device although there's no function for the user to reply.
With built in GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi, the Filip 2 also acts as a tracking device with parents able to locate their children using the companion iOS or Android app. If you have more than one kid, the revamped Filip app allows for multiple profiles to be created.
The GPS sensor extends to geo-fencing features, which Filip calls 'Safezones'. Up to five of these can be set up, meaning that you can be alerted everytime your little rascal strays away from a designated area. You'll need a $10 contract with AT&T.
The HereO is the first GPS tracking device cleverly disguised to look like a cute, colourful watch so little ones can show off and tell the time while you keep tabs on their whereabouts via your iOS or Android device.
Simply sync the watch with the free HereO app on your mobile device and a map pops up displaying your kid's precise location. If lost, the child can also send a panic alert using a series of simple commands.
HereO also allows you to set a geo-fenced safe zone so that when your child crosses the boundary, an alert is sent to your device. There's also a monthly subscription of around $5.
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Lineable is one of the most affordable options at just $13. That's probably because the Bluetooth-powered location device is engineered to last approximately one year from the time of purchase. The silicon based minimalist design is dust-proof and water resistant plus holds a no-charging-required battery life. All this makes it an obvious choice for parents who want a simple, bare-bones location device without spending a lot of money.
The range of the device is only 65 - 98 feet but what makes it stand out is that anyone with the Lineable app who is within range of the device can assist parents in locating their missing child using what the company calls "Crowdsource GPS."
My Buddy Tag
The Buddy Tag also uses Bluetooth instead of GPS making it another affordable option. While you can use it in as a normal kid tracker, it's also touted as a device that helps prevent accidental drowning. There's a panic alarm for the child to parents if they're in a threatening situation along with a personal ID to help reunite a lost child with the parents.
The wearable is waterproof and the wristband portion comes in a variety of designs. You can purchase disposable silicone wristbands, as well as Velcro or terry cloth wristbands for regular use.
Just like other Bluetooth trackers, the range for the device limited at 40 feet indoors and 80-120 feet outdoors. It's not on the same level as GPS trackers but if you're shopping on a budget, the Buddy isn't a bad choice.
The PocketFinder uses GSM and GPS, and while it looks like a key fob for your car, it's rugged and won't break easily, making it the perfect little stowaway to keep track of your kid.
The small, rectangular tracker also allows you to create your own custom geofences, so you can keep track of when your kids leave or enter one of them via alerts. There's also a button that they can press to send you an SOS alert.
The US, Canada and Mexico plan is only $12.95 per month while the international plan is $29.95.
The excellent Weenect system is comprised of a 6cm water-resistant tracker, protective pouch and a USB charger.
It also comes with one month of free tracking. Tracking can be performed using a live map, a compass with distance countdown or, get this, augmented reality. Yup, just hold your smartphone up (iOS or Android) and, assuming you're pointing the phone's camera in the right direction, a little icon pops up on the screen showing you the child's whereabouts.
The Weenect Kids tracker also comes with an SOS button and, for older kids, a 'zone entry/exit' function that alerts the parent when he or she has returned home. It works in all of Europe plus a few outposts, including Korea, Madagascar, Australia, Ghana, India and Malaysia. Top choice.
Amber Alert GPS Smart Locator
Amber Alert's pocket-sized GPS unit measures just 7cm and its rechargeable lithium battery runs for up to 40 hours on a single charge. Slip it into your child's pocket and you'll be able to check up on his/her location using either a browser or the accompanying iOS and Andoid app, communicate using the device's two-way voice function, even set up geo fencing boundaries.
But that's just the half of it. No one relishes the idea of living in the same neighbourhood as a sex offender so this clever gizmo also sends the parent or guardian a text or email alert if the child comes within 500 feet of a registered paedophile's home.
And if the little one ever has a panic attack, he or she simply hits the SOS button and a message is sent to the parent and up to ten authorised users. Subscription charges start at $15 per month.
This is not so much a tracker as a means of contacting the parent or guardian of a lost child. It's essentially a colourful silicone wristband with a printed QR code that contains the contact details of the child's parent or guardian. FlashMe works on the principal that most strangers are honest and that whoever finds the child will hopefully know what a QR code is.
As so many children under the age of four don't know their address or telephone number, a dirt cheap system like this could help save the day. A variety of other designs, including a pet version, are also available.
This is far and away the most sophisticated GPS-based tracking system on the market and it used to be one of the most expensive. Now, the price has gone down $99 making it an appealing buy. However, there's still the data plan cost to consider where you can choose from 6 months for $9, 12 months for $6, or 24 months for $4.
The slim 55 x 38mm tag itself is superbly designed and features a built in accelerometer and gyro, a Micro USB charging port and a pre-paid SIM that offers roaming in over 33 countries. The Android/iOS app, too, is head and shoulders above the rest and includes real-time mapping, augmented reality for close proximity searches, geo-fencing and speed alerts.