It's every parent's worst nightmare: a lost or missing child. But today, if we can track a lost iPhone down to its GPS coordinates, can we do the same for children? And does that kind of technology hold the key to preventing terrible endings to child abductions?
Perhaps. At the very least, GPS technology -- most commonly used for helping you get from point A to point B -- might be able to help you track and locate your child in the event that they go missing. What's more, some new tools on the market can also give your child the chance to call for help if they need it.
How It Works
Personal GPS tracking device would work in the same way that GPS works for your car. The difference is that it takes far less battery power. It's not giving directions; rather, a personal GPS tracking device occasionally transmits data to let a third party know where the device is located. Battery time is contingent upon how often the device sends those tracking communications.
There are three different ways you can track your child using GPS technology:
- Location: A small device shares your child's location with you at all times. This type of device can be clipped to their clothing or attached to a key ring.
- Alerts: If your child travels outside of a predetermined area, you receive an alert. This is a good option for parents who restrict their children to certain areas, such as teenagers driving for the first time, or for parents whose young children can only possibly be in certain areas because they can't travel elsewhere themselves. For parents of older kids, some devices will even let you know when your kids are driving too fast.
- Alarm: Some devices offer an alarm function. So if your child is in danger, they can hold down a button for three or four seconds to alert you -- and the authorities -- that there's a problem.
Some devices offer all of these functions in a single package. They're not cheap; the devices typically retail for more than $100, and tracking is usually a subscription-based service that you pay for every month.
Still, the applications are myriad: What works for your child can also work for elderly relatives, special needs adults or even dogs with a habit of running away. All you have to do is make sure that the person or pet in question is wearing the device and that it's properly charged. Sound like a good way to put an end to some of those parental anxieties?
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