How to track your kids’ whereabouts

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. ET

With the recent media attention surrounding child abduction cases, many parents are turning to GPS tracking devices for their kids and teens to help give them peace of mind. Are these parents being too overprotective or are they just being smart?

Mom sending son to school

From devices worn on your child's shoe to cellphone tracking apps and even driving tracking devices, find out what the experts and parents say are the best GPS tracking devices for kids and teens.

Ask any parent what is their worst fear and having a child abducted ranks at the top of list. With the recent advances in technology, many parents are considering using GPS tracking devices for their children. After all, we put a chip in our animals to keep track of them — so can’t we do the same for our kids? No, we aren’t suggesting you implant a GPS device into your child (although it has crossed my mind after one scary incident at the park), but there are so many options to give parents a little peace of mind.

Best GPS tracking devices for little kids

Kids can move fast — especially when they spot a shiny new train at the store or a cool new ride at the park. Most GPS tracking devices for kids have a device they wear along with a parent tracking device, such as their smartphone or a parent transmitter.

Securus eZoom

Securus eZoom GPS tracking device

The Securus eZoom is a GPS tracking device that can be attached to a child's clothing, in a backpack or pocket, on a key ring or in the car. It works for both small children and older kids, as well as teen drivers. Securus CEO Chris Newton tells us that he thinks GPS tracking devices can “absolutely” prevent child abductions.

“As we all have experienced, parents can't always be with their kids. Personally, I love having an eZoom with my kids so I know they haven't been abducted and so I can know where they are any time. It gives both my kids and me peace of mind,” he says.

How does it work? “eZoom uses A-GPS and cellular network technologies to pinpoint its location on a map. When continuously tracking, eZoom updates its location every 30 seconds and shows a breadcrumb trail of past locations,” Newton tells us. “Parents can find their kids any time by checking the online tracking dashboard, sending a text message or by using our free mobile apps for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. Parents can receive email and text message alerts when kids arrive at and leave different places during the day, and parents can also get overspeed alerts if their teen driver exceeds a certain speed. Kids and teens can use the SOS button to check in with their parents and let them know their location, as well.”

The eZoom does need to be charged, however the battery lasts 3 to 21 days, depending on use (and has a battery extender you can purchase). It is priced at $99.99 plus the service plan of $19.99 a month (or you can pay one year in advance for a slightly discounted rate).

BrickHouse Security’s Toddler Tag Child Locator

If you are looking for something more affordable without the monthly service plans, perhaps BrickHouse Security’s Toddler Tag Child Locator is the right option for you.

“I currently use a GPS tracking device by BrickHouse Security for my 6-year-old son,” David Bakke, editor at Money Crashers Personal Finance tells SheKnows, saying he uses the device when they visit a store or go to crowded areas such as an airport or festival. “The device easily attaches to his clothing and the transmitter is in the form of a key chain. As soon as he gets more than 30 feet away from me, the transmitter sounds. I can also press a button on the transmitter, which makes a loud sound emit from the unit attached to my son. It only cost me $30 and there's no monthly fee. I have nothing bad to say about it, as it has always functioned properly and provided me with peace of mind.“

The cons of this device is that they only work up to 150 feet away (but you will be alerted when they are 30 feet away) and you can’t track their actual location with your parent transmitter, however the loud beeping allows you to find them. This device is best for younger kids who tend to wander away from you, versus older children and teens who you want to track when they are not with you.

More GPS tracking devices

Rich Owings is a GPS tracking expert for and he recommends the Garmin GTU 10 for kids without phones. This device is available for around $115 and includes one year of tracking service. Along with the eZoom, it is also waterproof and this device has up to four weeks of battery life. It can be attached to a backpack or belt. You can get the location from a computer or smartphone with their free Garmin Tracker app.

Other options include the Amber Alert GPS (Amazon, $199), which is a small device whose location can be tracked via your smartphone and has a cool two-way voice function so you can talk to your child or they can talk to you. The "Mommy I'm Here" child locator (Amazon, $26) works similar to the Toddler Tag in that in emits a loud sound, only it is shaped like a teddy bear that can be attached to your child's shoes or shirt.

Up next: Tracking your tweens and teens

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