While this weekend in the unofficial start of summer, Sunday is also National Missing Children’s Day. Every year it’s a chance for parents to take a moment and reflect on what they have done, or can do, to make their kids safer and to check out the newest tech tools to keep kids safe. There’s nothing more nerve wracking as a parent than wondering if you’re children are OK when they’re out of your hands.
When kids are at school, with friends, or visiting relatives, it feels like we have no control over their safety. But parents today are have so many tools available that we only dreamed of as we raised our kids during the 90’s. We thought cellphones were a game changer, but you have so many more GPS-enabled devices to help you keep tabs on your kids when they’re out of your sight. Now please don’t ever substitute this technology for parental control, they’re not the same thing, but use technology to help make sure that you can find your kids should something go wrong.
Tech Tools to Keep Kids Safe: Young Kids
For young kids, there are some new devices for parents. FiLIP watch and AmberAlertGPS can be used to track your kids and even allows you to set up an electronic perimeter. When your child moves beyond the allowed boundaries, you’ll be alerted on your smartphone and with ther AberAlertGPS, the 2-way communication device allows you to contact them. Again, this isn’t a substitute for parental supervision, but should a child wander off without you noticing, you’ll be alerted.
Plus the AmberAlertGPS lets you see the location of registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. Think you don’t need sex offender registration information because you live in a nice area? Think again. I have 5 registered sex offenders living within walking distance of my home, several who were sentenced for kidnapping, and I live in a great neighborhood!
Plus I live two houses up from a park that’s popular with kids. It’s frightening knowing there are that many registered sex offenders so close, especially when I can see on my state website that the majority of sex offenders are not in compliance and not registered. Who knows where they are!
Tech Tools to Keep Kids Safe: Online Safety
If you have older children with a smartphone, they are apps available so you can monitor their emails, online searches, text, and know who they’re communicating with. The news if full of reports of children communicating online with strangers who turn out to be pedophiles, make sure that’s not happening in your home.
Here’s some more information about some of the safety apps and devices you may want to consider to help keep your kids safer. Make technology work for you – that’s what it’s there for!
Tech Tools to Keep Kids Safe
These links are for AT&T. If you’re not an AT&T subscriber, check with your own carrier for options.
|FiLIP: Engineered for fun, FiLIP is a smart locator in the form of a wristwatch that lets kids explore, discover, and play while still keeping everyone connected. It gives kids freedom while giving their parents peace of mind. Video of Filip is available by clicking here.|
|Amber Alert GPS: The Amber Alert GPS® Smart Locator enables parents and caregivers of two- to ten-year-old children to stay connected through GPS location awareness and two-way mobile voice communications. Parents can set up an electronic perimeter for their child and be alerted if their kid goes beyond that barrier set up online. Video of Amber Alert GPS is available by clicking here.|
|Smart Limits for Wireless: can block unwanted calls or texts, keep track of time and limit purchases. No more cyber-bullying with Smart Limits. As the user approaches the usage/spending limits you have set, he/she will receive an advance warning. Once a limit is reached, there will be a notification that the action is restricted and that the service will be stopped until the next billing cycle begins.|
|AT&T Family Map: Know where your kids are, no matter where you are. Shows the location on an interactive map. Sends your family member’s location by text or email. Keeps your information secure and private. Watch this video to learn more about FamilyMap (click here).|
Parenting is Hard – Get Free Help
Parenting is hard enough. Use technology to help you keep an eye on your kids, especially online. As parents we always errored on the side of safety and we always let our kids know what we were doing and why we were doing it. It’s NEVER too early to talk to your kids about online and personal safety.
Use some of the free online safety sites like SafeKids.com to stay up-to-date on the online threats to your child’s safety and know where sex offenders are living in your community by checking with your state. My state, Washington, publishes the Washington State Department Of Corrections Most Wanted Sex Offenders list (scary stuff). But they don’t publish registered sex offenders by state, only city, which makes it harder to keep abreast of it.
I have found another registered sex offender list I find much more helpful because it includes information on what the offender was convicted of as well as the percentage of sexual offenders in the population (information I’ll remember to look up next time we move). That list is available at CityData.com and covers the entire US.
Granted, knowing where registered sex offenders are living are won’t keep your kids safe, but it will remind you that they exist and that there are many other who’ve not been convicted. Keeping track of your kids at all times is your best defense.