Though some parents might feel that kids at this age have no business owning a cell phone, one way to quell a safety concern is to add a GPS personal locator service.
While various hardware devices are available for GPS tracking, the service can also come directly from your cell phone carrier without the need for additional equipment.
Once you have a cell phone that already has embedded GPS technology, you just need software to go with it. You can track your kids between school and home or verify their location at the house of a friend.
Sprint Family Locator
One option available to parents is Sprint Family Locator. For $5 a month (with the first 15 days free), parents can see the real-time locations of four phones on interactive satellite maps from any PC or Web-enabled mobile phone.
The service offers unlimited location checks as well as Safety Checks. With Sprint, a Safety Check will text you when your kids reach certain places based on pre-configured time and location settings.
As for location accuracy, Sprint says: “You will always get the best-possible location fix given the conditions. When locating phones, Sprint Family Locator will [generally] produce location accuracies anywhere between a few yards and a few hundred yards.”
Sprint notes the following conditions that can yield inaccurate location data:
- The phone is deep inside a building or car.
- The phone is surrounded by tall buildings, hills, canyons or trees.
- The phone is near large, reflective surfaces (i.e. lakes or ponds).
- The phone is powered off. The phone must be powered on.
- The phone’s battery has run out.
- The phone isn’t in a Sprint network coverage area.
Kajeet GPS Locator
While Sprint is a major cell phone carrier for all kinds of consumers, Kajeet is in business to specifically target parents who want an array of kid-friendly wireless options.
The Kajeet optional GPS phone locator, though, costs twice as much as with Sprint. After your first month for free, the Kajeet feature costs $9.99 per month. Along with locating a phone for your kids, you can even set automatic check-ins with Kajeet.
Kajeet allows parents to check phone locations online. You can also get automatic emails with phone locations at specific times of the day. While parents can use GPS tracking to ensure safety for their kids, they can also track elderly parents and their own siblings.
GPS Tracking at Verizon Wireless, Alltel Wireless
Verizon Wireless and Alltel Wireless offer similar GPS services for $9.99 per month. Chaperone 2.0 from Verizon Wireless works in conjunction with VZ Navigator (the carrier’s GPS service) on up to four cell phones. Alltel’s service is called the Alltel Family Finder.
The GPS tracker at Verizon Wireless even allows parents to set “Child Zones” as geographical boxes around places (i.e. a friend’s house). Parents will receive a text message alert when their child enters and leaves a safe zone.
In conjunction with the National Sex Offender Registry, Sprint even offers a free service called Family Watchdog. This services sends a text message to parents if a registered sex offender moves into your neighborhood.