Parents can consider a number of factors before buying a GPS tracker to monitor their child’s location. Pick the best GPS tracking device for your needs.
Kids go missing every day in the United States. Many are located within a short period of time, but even briefly losing track of a child’s location can make a parent frantic.
Unfortunately, some children go missing for long periods of time. At the end of last year, children and teenagers under the age of 18 accounted for nearly half of all active missing person cases tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
If your kids are grown and can use the mobile phone then you should definitely use the Phone Tracker app to track your kids. However, if they are too young to use the phone then you have to consider other options.
Assisted GPS vs. Radio Frequency Trackers
There are two basic kinds of tracking devices that you can use to locate your child,.
- Assisted global positioning system (A-GPS): These devices use GPS technology to find your child’s location and cellular technology to communicate that location to you. The cellular function, similar to a cell phone, usually requires a monthly service fee.
- Radiofrequency (RF) tracking devices: RF trackers use radio frequencies to determine your child’s location. These devices are better for short-distance trackings, such as when your child wanders off in a department store.
GPS technology has improved since that 2008 article, making GPS a more attractive technology overall. Products such as the WorldTracker Enduro GPS Tracker are accurate within about 15 feet.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a GPS Tracker for Your Child
There are a number of factors parents can consider when buying a GPS tracking device for their kids. The purchase price, service fee, and battery life are three of the most important.
- Purchase price: Most of the GPS trackers reviewed by GPSmagazine in 2010 range from about $50 to $400. The Garmin GTU 10, selected by Popular Mechanics as the best GPS tracker from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, is $200.
- Service fee: Monthly rates range from about $10 to $50 for most of the GPS trackers reviewed by GPSmagazine in 2010. The Garmin GTU 10, when purchased new, comes with one year of standard tracking service; thereafter, the annual fee is $50 for a standard plan. Some GPS trackers allow users to skip monthly or annual fees and instead pay a small fee per location request.
- Battery life: GPS trackers are all over the map (pun intended) when it comes to battery life. The Garmin GTU 10, for example, has a battery life that ranges from one day to one month, depending on the settings you select. Generally, battery life can be extended with less frequent updates. In some cases, you can buy an optional battery pack to extend the time between charges.
Other important questions parents can ask about child-tracking GPS devices are listed below.
- Accuracy: How accurate is the device? No GPS tracker is 100% accurate, but what is an acceptable range for you?
- Delivery of locational information: How do I monitor my child’s location? Can I check-in through the internet or my smartphone? Can I receive text alerts when my child moves beyond a certain boundary? (Some GPS trackers allow you to set a “geo-fence” around an area, such as your child’s school grounds.)
- Frequency of updates: How frequently do I receive updates from the tracking device on my child’s location?
- Ease of use: How easy is the GPS tracker to use? Does it attach easily to a backpack or jacket? Can it be worn on a wrist or inside a shoe?
- Sensitivity: How sensitive is the device to cold or hot temperatures? Is the GPS tracker waterproof? Will the device work underground, in parking garages and other indoor areas?
- Panic button: Does the device have a panic button (or “SOS” button) that my kids can use to alert me if they’re in danger?