My day the other day could have ended much worse. I was cooking and my 10 yr son burst into the house to tell me he and his friend witnessed a man assaulting his girlfriend and then running off. My son’s friend got in a witnesses van to chase them down and call 911. I immediately told my son and older boys chase after the van but keep a distance. I got my phone out and clicked on my Gizmo app and proceeded to locate where my son was and then I called his GizmoGadget watch and as I drove towards him was able to instruct him and listen to what was happening. When I pulled up my sons had listened to my instructions are were down the street from the van but keeping an eye on it. Now that I think about it I probably should not have had him follow as we did not know if weapons were involved but in the heat of the moment, all I could think was he has his GizmoGadget and his GPS tracker have him keep an eye on the van and bring help. I could not bear to think what could occur if the van was not in sight if it drove off and no one could follow. I was never more grateful that I tend to be that mom who wants to be able to check in on her kids.
I had done a lot of research before I chose what worked for my family. I thought I’d share my research with all of you so you can hopefully make an informed choice for your family.
The Gadgets I Looked Into
I narrowed it down to 3 options for my 10-year-old. I started out with 10 but looked at reviews and price points and also had to decide what my son would respond to best. Doing that I narrowed it to our top 3. Here are the pros and cons of each
AngelSense was created to help protect special needs children who are prone to wandering off. It is one of the more advanced gadgets in terms of tracking capabilities, provides a safety zone set up feature to 30-second updates, and it has a listen-in functionality that lets parents listen to how their child’s day is going, ensuring that they’re not mistreated, neglected, or lost.
Loop-In School: You can provide school officials with a special interface, so they can help keep your special needs child safe too.
Listen-In: The device lets you listen in on your child’s day to hear what’s happening around them.
30-Second Updates: See what your child has been up to with diary logs that input data every 30 seconds.
No Communication: AngelSense doesn’t allow you to talk to your child. This was the deciding factor why we did not choose this one. I wanted to be able to talk or text to my son
Made to be secure. AngelSense uses special magnets and/or a belt that securely attaches to the child’s clothing. It can only be removed by the special parent key and if it is attempted to be removed alerts the parent.
- Amber Alert GPS Locator
Amber Alert has features like location tracking, alerts, and speed detection.It even taps into the National Sex Offender Database to show whether your child is within 500 feet of a sex offender.
Safety zone set up: You can program up to 20 safe zones to monitor your child’s whereabouts. If they leave the safety zone an alert will be sent to the parents.
Updated Location Tracking: This device updates your child’s location every five minutes
Silent Mode: You can place the device in silent mode.
Expensive: Amber Alert costs $125 for the device. You’ll need to buy an additional monthly service package, too. You can opt for either $15/month for 150 SMS text alerts or $18/month for 300. Both packages include 2-way voice, alerting via voice, text, e-mail, and GPS tracking. You do have the option of being able t opt-out of text alerts by purchasing the device from AT&T directly for $10/month.
Only 1 number: While this device does allow 2 way talking it only supports 1 number. Being a 2 parent household we both wanted to be able to communicate with our son. This was our standout reason for not choosing this option.
Sex offender detection. Amber Alert GPS is the only device that alerts you if your child is close to a sex offender’s registered location.
- LG GizmoGadget From Verizon
Interactive and secure, GizmoGadget by LG keeps you connected with your kiddo. It’s a wearable watch and allows your kiddo to call up to 10 contacts and receive calls from them. The Gizmo can also text this programmed number. And most importantly it can be located on a map from the parent’s phone. It’s even waterproof.
Two-way calling: Not only can your child receive calls if you’re trying to reach them, they can call you as well with updates. Parents can program up to 10 numbers for their child to be able to call.
Fitness tracker: The device lets you track your child’s steps and reports how active they were throughout the day.
Gps Tracking And Boundaries: From the GizmoHub app on the parent’s smartphone, the caregiver can see the GizmoGadget’s location using GPS. It is also possible to set boundaries and get notifications if the GizmoGadget crosses them.
Personalized: Your child can personalize their message with emojis. There are also options for sounds that your child can go thru and make the watch fit their personality.
Silence: The watch can be set to have set silent times. Make it where it will not make any sound during certain times.
Alarms: It allows alarms to be set for certain times and days and will notify the parent when the child completes the task the alarm was reminding them of.
Adult can Oversee: The caregivers can manage and oversee GizmoGadget’s settings using the GizmoHub app. The app allows programming up to 10 contacts at any time and customization of the preset messages that can be sent from the GizmoGadget. You can also change the volume, theme and fun sounds, set a goal for daily activity, turn the Gizmo on and off, set alarms, silence the watch, and more. The app is compatible with smartphones using Android 5.0 or higher and iOS 9.0 or higher.
Auto Answer: This is by far my favorite feature. You can call your child watch even when it is set to silent and after 3 rings it will automatically answer allowing you to listen in to their surroundings.
No games: Although this might be a good thing for some parents, kids are more likely to wear the smartwatch if it’s engaging and fun to use.
Runs on Cellular: It is thru Verizon so runs on cell towers. While Verizon is one of the top carriers on the off chance there is no service the watch will not work adequately.
Grown-up design. The GizmoGadget is a more realistic design. It is. As your kids grow, they’ll want something more mature.
Why we chose this one:
Ultimately we decided on the GizmoGadget. We chose it because our son liked that it was a watch. For a kiddo who loses everything, this was a major selling point. There are other wearables out there but this one was smaller than a few and had better reviews. I loved that there were no games on it. It has a purpose and the purpose is not for fun so I like that there are no distractions. Loved that I could program 10 numbers. If by some chance he doesn’t get ahold of me it allows for multiple options.
- Other options I came across but did not make my top 3
HerO GPS Watch
My Buddy Tag
Next, I had to figure out my 4 yr old. He was 3 at the time of purchase and what my husband and I classified as a runner. I had numerous friends say to get him a leash so he could not run off but to me, I just couldn’t do that. So we were on the hunt. Here is what we narrowed down to our top 3
This is the less advanced version of what we got our 10 yr old so it was the first one that we looked at. It has fewer features and only programs 4 numbers instead of the 10 of the gadget. It is designed to be simpler for younger children.
Two-way communication: Your child can call up to four numbers in case of an emergency, or you can call them to check in on them
Real-time tracking: If you’re curious about your kid’s whereabouts, but don’t want to disturb them in the middle of the day, you can easily track them in real-time to see what they’re up to.
Bulky: The design and fit of the GIZMOPAL 2 is bulky for young children, making it uncomfortable for all-day wear. I went to the store and had my 3 yr old try it on and it was huge compared to his little arm. Now that he is bigger and in love with his brothers watch and will be starting Kinder in the fall the hubby and I have been discussing purchasing one of these for him.
Touchscreen. The GIZMOPAL2 is simple for younger children to navigate. It has a touchscreen so they don’t have buttons to have to figure out.
- Guardian Angel Kids Tracker
Easy to use and easy to program. Just sync the base and the unit and go. Helpful for children who are prone to wandering. When your kids move beyond than the alarm setting distance, a 95 dB beep alarm will trigger both on t the parent’s unit and the unit worn by the child. A row of LEDs light flash to indicate in which direction the child has strayed.
Alarm sounds if child breaches set distance:1,600 feet search radius (*Distance varies depending on terrain and other factors).The alarm can be set the distances from 16feet, 32feet, or 64 feet
Panic button child can push: Tags can transmit Panic/Stress button to the base unit. Alert modes 95dB alarm and vibration.
Easy to use: One base controls up to four tags. The base is equipped with direction indicator to speed the search. Both base and tag can be muted while you are searching each other.Works indoors and outdoors. No assembly or installation needed.Light and weight easy to use
Can be worn almost anywhere: Can be attached to belt buckle, shoe, necklace, bracelet, pants, or basically anything that it has a loop.
Why we choose this one
For our son, the watch was too large on his wrist. He is also great on unclasping a watch so we needed something more difficult for him to remove. I attached a key ring to the clasp of this and hooked it to his shoe and he was not able to undo it. It was also helpful that I could set how far he could be away from my master unit I carried in my pocket and if he ran past that distance it immediately sounds an alarm.
Older Kiddos Gadgets
For our older boys, a phone was the way to go. We did add apps that allowed us to track their phones, text messages, and calls.
We downloaded PhoneSherriff
Limit when and where they can use phone: Time-limit controls
Monitor browsing and texting: Extensive browsing and texting logs
Set boundaries and contacts: Strong location features, including geofencing and a panic button for alerting contacts to a child’s whereabouts.
We live in a world where it is necessary to protect our children but at the same time give them the freedom to grow. Having easy to use gadgets make that just a little more possible. Hopefully, they never need to be used but the peace of mind of having them is worth it.