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, and even fitness trackers for kids, 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. And below, we've rounded up the best kid trackers you can buy right now.
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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 - packed. 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.
AngelSense has also added some new features just this year. 2-Way Voice allows users to instantly call and speak to your child if you need to, an ETA feature lets you know when your kid is on the way home and the new Timeline Map promises better visibility of your child's routes.
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, though - all these extra services will cost you. It's $39.99 to get onto the monthly plan, though the overall pricing varies depending on your commitment to the subscription.
This is far and away the most sophisticated GPS-based tracking system on the market, and it also 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 six 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 gyroscope, a 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.
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.
My Buddy Tag
The Buddy Tag uses Bluetooth instead of GPS, making it one of the more affordable options on this list. While you can use it in as a normal kid tracker, it's also touted as a device that helps prevent drowning. There's a panic alarm for the child to contact 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. So while it's not on the same level as GPS trackers, it's a strong choice for those shopping on a budget.
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. That means 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 splash-proof, has a bunch of physical buttons and a four-day battery life. Available in blue and pink, natch.
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. This primarily one for the European crwod, though it also works in the likes of Korea, Madagascar, Australia, Ghana, India and Malaysia, too.
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 Android app, communicate using the device's two-way voice function, and even set up geofencing boundaries.
But that's just the half of it. This clever gizmo also sends the parent or guardian a text or email alert if the child comes within 500 feet of a registered sex offender'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.
Following up on its initial, affordable first generation effort, Lineable is back with more advanced tracking features and an all-new form factor.
Lasting up to a week on a single charge, the Junior brings SOS alerts, location tracking and geofencing, and handily also offers alerts on the watch face for when the device is removed from the child's wrist. For the kids themselves, fitness tracking is also available in real time, and, with this also being a watch, the time and other smartwatch-style features are also on board.
There's no word yet on pricing, since the device is only set for launch this summer, but the fact it's taking advantage of Long Range Network - the IoT standard led by LoRa - and has fencing features means it will almost certainly come with a monthly subscription.
Omate x Nanoblock
Another rounded kids smartwatch that's set to land this summer comes from Omate, with the company collaborating with Japanese toymaker Diablock on design and Tata Communications on software.
Set to land in June for $179, the smartwatch is offering security features such as SOS alerts, two-way voice and video chatting and location tracking, as well as a three-day battery life, an alarm, pedometer, stopwatch and front-facing camera.
Extended look: Hands-on with the Omate x Nanoblock
If your focus is on safety, you'll be happy to know the watch has 3G connectivity, provided through Tata Communications' built-in SIM card, tracking the wearer's location through GPS, Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular networks. And importantly, none of this data can be compromised, Omate and Tata say, thanks to end-to-end encryption.