GPS trackers help keep children safe and protect parents’ peace of mind. We review the most important features so you can choose the best GPS tracker for your kids.
As much as we all wish we could allow our kids the kind of free-range childhood and independence that we idealize, we’re also scared of predators, heavy traffic, and children getting lost. Today’s technology helps with some of those problems by making it easy to attach a GPS tracker so that you know where your child is at all times. Some trackers add the ability to make basic calls, receive reminders, and set safe zones, so we’ve compiled the best GPS trackers for kids to help you choose your favorite option.
The Best GPS Tracker for Setting Safe Zones
One of the most helpful features of a GPS tracker is the ability to create and monitor “safe zones” for your child. This means that parents can set a geographical area and get notifications when their child arrives at or leaves that area. Some devices like Traxplay allow you to create more than one safe zone with different names. Traxplay sends parents an alert if their child leaves this area, and you can also schedule safe zones to be active on different days. On top of that, there's a distance indicator which shows your child's location on the screen as you scan an area and a history feature which shows where your child's tracker has been over the last 24 hours.
Loc8tor also has the capability to set safe zones and receive alerts when your child arrives home from school, for example. It promises accuracy within 5 meters. Pocket Finder, FiLiP, and HereO also make it easy to create safe zones and receive alerts when your child enters or leaves one.
The Best GPS Tracker for Kids That Allow Calls
If you're only looking for a way to track your child's whereabouts, there are plenty of GPS trackers that can do that for you. But, there are also some that allow a limited measure of communication, with some devices allowing the child to receive calls and/or messages from trusted contacts and some acting as a proto-cell phone. For example, Gator Watch is an ideal device for children who are too young to be given a smartphone, but whose parents still want them to have a way to call someone if they need to. It includes both a GPS tracker that sends notifications if the child leaves a preset safe zone and SIM card functionality. Parents can program which numbers the child is allowed to call and receive calls from, so your child can always get in touch if they need to.
Tinitell is created similarly. It accepts a 2G SIM card and allows the parent to enter up to 12 contact names and numbers, as well as offering a GPS tracker that shows your child's location constantly. Children can make calls using the simple button interface or by just pressing the front of the band and saying the name of the person they want to call, which makes it even easier for your child to use the device.
Two more options are FiLiP, and the GizmoGadget and GizmoPal. FiLip enables parents to send one-way text messages to their child and set which numbers their child can call along with offering a powerful GPS tracker. The GizmoGadget and GizmoPal are 2 versions of the same GPS tracking device. They both allow the child to make and accept phone calls to preset contacts, include GPS tracking with the ability to set up safe zones, and receive notifications if your child leaves those areas. The only difference is that the GizmoGadget allows up to 10 contacts while the GizmoPal only allows up to 4.
Best Apps for Kids Who Don’t Like Watches
GPS tracker devices really fall into 2 main categories—the ones that are worn on your child’s wrist, like HereO, Amber Alert GPS, and Tinitell, which are very similar to basic smartwatches, and the ones that attach to a pocket or bag. Some kids love having a GPS watch, especially if it also makes calls, but others can’t stand to wear anything on their wrists—or perhaps you know that if your child does, it will break or be destroyed within 2 days.
If your child doesn’t like wearing stuff around his or her wrist, you still have plenty of GPS trackers to choose from. Pocket Finder is a small device that you can tuck into your child’s pocket or backpack where it won’t get lost. Just don't forget to take it out before you put their pants in the washing machine! Loc8tor also tucks into a pocket in the child’s bag or clothing, while Traxplay has a clever attachment that clips onto your kid’s belt or backpack. Finally, if you have a child who is old enough to carry his or her own smartphone, you can add Life360 to it. It’s a GPS tracker app that allows the whole family to keep track of each other’s whereabouts.
The Best GPS Trackers for Kids by Price
When you compare prices for different GPS trackers, make sure to pay attention to all of the hidden fees. As well as the ticket price for the device itself, most GPS trackers charge you a monthly service fee for the tracking usage. If you get a GPS tracker that also makes or receives calls or texts, you’ll also have to pay for a call plan.
For example, the Amber Alert GPS costs around $135, but you’ll also need to pay $15 to $18 every month for the service plan, and an additional $19.99 one-off activation fee. GizmoGadget and GizmoPal, which are exclusive to Verizon, cost $149 for the GizmoGadget and $79.99 for the GizmoPal, but that doesn’t include the $30 one-time connection fee or your monthly service plan of $5 to $10 with Verizon.
The lowest-cost option is Life360, which is a free app with paid premium features. However, this is possible only if your child already has a smartphone.
Special Features to Look for in a GPS Tracker for Kids
Along with the basic ability to track your child’s movements, set up safe zones, and sometimes make and/or receive calls and texts, some GPS trackers have extra capabilities which could make the difference to your choice. It’s worth noting that Amber Alert GPS is the only device that connects to the Megan’s Law National Sex Offender Database. It sends you an alert if your child is within 500 feet of the address of a registered sex offender. It also sends push notifications if it detects that the device is traveling at a certain speed—you can set that to be anything from 35mph to 90mph, which would tell you if your child has unexpectedly gotten into a vehicle.
Another safety feature to note is FiLiP’s ability to record a call. If your child hits the emergency call button, it will automatically dial the number you've set as the primary account holder, and FiLiP will immediately record the entire call including background noises. Pocket Finder has its own emergency feature—the child can trigger an emergency alert by hitting the device 3 times against a solid surface. Thankfully, the GPS tracker is rugged enough to cope with this treatment.