It's difficult for even the most attentive parent to always know where their children are at any given time. Thankfully, keeping an eye on your little ones is becoming much easier thanks to GPS tracking devices made especially for kids.
While there are plenty of smartwatches for kids on the market, and even fitness trackers for kids, you need GPS for that all-important location tracking. With a personal GPS tracker, you can then pinpoint the exact position of the person you're looking for using a map on your smartphone or tablet.
Some models also offer geo-fencing, an electronic barrier drawn on a digital map which, when breached, immediately alerts the parent or guardian to a potential concern.
There are also devices that include cellular connectivity ‚Äď like the Verizon GizmoWatch ‚Äď so kids can make an SOS call to a designated number from their smartwatch, as well as send and receive messages.
As for whether it is legal to track your kids, it is generally considered within your rights as a parent provided the focus of tracking is under the age of 18, but different US states will legislate differently. Of course, as your child gets older, tracking and privacy is a topic of discussion that will be personal to your child-parent relationship.
To make picking the right GPS tracker for your kids a bit easier, we've rounded up the best child-friendly trackers you can buy right now below. Got any questions about any of the wearables on our list? Let us know in the comments section.
Buy now: verizon.com | $179.99
One of the freshest faces on the scene, Verizon's GizmoWatch takes a kids' tracker and builds an LTE-connected smartwatch around it. This means you'll need to factor in a monthly contract, which starts at $5 a month from Verizon.
The smartwatch stuff is actually aimed at getting kids used to the idea of a smartwatch. Designed for kids aged 3-11, it has two-way calling and messaging so kids can keep in contact with up to 10 contacts approved by the parents.
Naturally, there's location tracking and GPS boundaries that parents can set up. You're also getting a 1.3-inch 240 x 240 AMOLED display with 4 - 7 days of battery life.
For the kids, there's a hopscotch tracker and a voice changing mode to make things a little more fun. And yes, there's a basic step tracker and inactivity reminders, too so the Verizon GizmoWatch functions like a fitness tracker.
It comes in pink and blue. There's also a 90th anniversary Mickey Mouse edition that comes in either grey or navy blue.
Xiaomi Mi Bunny Watch 3
Buy now: mi.com | ¬£70
Just a heads up first that the third generation Mi Bunny Watch is on sale in China only for now, with no sign of it on the international Mi Store yet. But it's still worth including here as Xiaomi devices tend to find their way around the globe on account of solid feature sets and super affordable prices.
In terms of tech, it packs a lot in with both Wi-Fi and 4G plus GPS and A-GPS for locating your child. There's also a 2MP built-in camera, activity tracking and 30 hour battery life. The Mi Bunny Watch 3 comes in pink and blue, the 1.41-inch display has a resolution of 360 x 320 and the whole thing weighs just 50g.
Buy now: Amazon | $99
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 ‚Äď 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 you 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 ‚Äď all these extra services will cost you. It's $39.99 to get onto the monthly plan, although the overall pricing varies depending on your commitment to the subscription.
Buy now: Amazon | ¬£128
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
Buy now: Amazon | $39.99
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 their 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.
Buy now: Amazon | ¬£99
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.
Buy now:Amazon | ¬£49.99
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 is primarily one for the European crowd, though it also works in the likes of Korea, Madagascar, Australia, Ghana, India and Malaysia, too.
Amber Alert GPS Smart Locator
Buy now: Amazon | $135
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 one is unavailable on Amazon right now, but it is still available on the Amber Alert website.
Buy now: flashme.io | $7
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 principle 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.
Omate x Nanoblock
Buy now: omate.com | $149.99
Omate has teamed up with Japanese toymaker Diablock and Tata Communications to make a wearable that turns the tracker itself into a plaything. They use nanoblock straps that lets your child design the strap how they see fit with don't-call-them-Lego blocks.
The smartwatch is offering security features such as SOS alerts, two-way voice and video chatting and location tracking, as well as a four-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.
Read this: Best smartwatches to buy right now
Naver Labs AKI
This cute kids smartwatch, Naver Labs' AKI, is powered by the same Samsung processor that's in the Gear S3 and it also uses Samsung's Wi-Fi positioning system to locate kids wearing one both indoors and outdoors.
There's LTE on board for voice calls, a voice assistant named CLOVA and translation between English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Plus there's a range of strap colours and four dog emoji watch faces. This one was announced back in summer 2018, and there hasn't been an update on price, release date or global availability just yet.