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Keeping Track of Your Kids

by on August 30, 2012
in Family and Parenting, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Kids, Travel & Entertainment, Car Tech & Safety, Tips & How-Tos, Back to School :: 2 comments

AT&T family locatorEvery year, there's a new batch of kids who are getting themselves to school and letting themselves into their homes for the first time. As parents, we want to know that they've actually gotten there and they're getting there safely.

One of the easiest ways to keep tabs on your child is to use a cellphone location service. All four major carriers offer them. Sprint's Family Locator service will locate up to four phones for $5 per month. You can locate two people for $9.99 per month or five people for $14.99 with AT&T's Family Map service. T-Mobile's FamilyWhere service enables you to track up to 10 mobile devices for $9.99. And with Verizon Family Locator ($9.99 per month), you can set up location-based alerts so you know when your child gets home, in addition to locating anyone on your Family Share plan.

Gone Out Later FolksOf course, a location service is really just tracking the phone's location, not your child. So you may also want your child to check in with an app like Gone Out - Later Folks ($1.99 on iTunes). It can record and share the details of any outing, including friends' names, transportation mode, location and photos.

I also like Life360 Family Locator (free on iTunes and Google Play), which has a panic button kids can hit if they're in trouble. Parents will receive a call, email and text with their location. For a more hands-on approach, kids can talk to a trained safety adviser with StreetSafe, a personal safety app and service (free in iTunes and Google Play; requires subscription which is $20 a month, $45 a quarter or $150 a year). Advisers can recommend the best route, keep your child company and call the police if there's an emergency.

If your child's a new driver, you'll want to check out Tiwi. The device is installed in your vehicle and monitors the car's speed, whether your child is wearing a seatbelt and how aggressively the car is being driven. If there are any concerns, your teen will hear a verbal prompt and you'll be notified via text, voicemail or email. You can also set up SmartZones, so you receive notifications when your child arrives or leaves school, home or any other designated area. Prices are quite steep, starting at $599 for the hardware and a $24.99 per month service fee. For $9.99 per month, you can add roadside assistance and emergency support.

 

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FamilyMaps doesn't always work

From KathyF on August 30, 2012 :: 9:57 pm

We specifically wanted AT&T Family Maps.  We bought my son a Pantech Pursuit at the AT&T store. It had a GPS and the ATT staff assured me it would work with Family Maps.  What it did was get within a 1 mile radius of the phone location.  Yet, Google Maps on same phone could accurately place the phone.  It turns out, after much tech support, that the Family Maps software was unable to turn the GPS on.  We had the the money we paid for a couple of months of non-service service refunded and just scrapped getting a locator service.

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TIWI is expensive and isn't tamper resistant

From Dana William Shaut on September 03, 2012 :: 6:42 pm

Honestly - I looked into many of these products and quite frankly TIWI is the most expensive option and doesn’t provide a tamper proof option.  I think most teen’s would find a way to “accidentally” damaged the unit or claim it was stolen or pull the plug.  Plus with TIWI you have to do the installation… forget it.  My wife and I drilled down - did our research—and decided on the iTeen365 Monitoring device - http://www.iteen365.com.

There is a low activation fee ($25.00) - professional certified installation was included and we only pay $34.95 a month.  It cost us $60 to get everything vs. $600 - $700 for the TIWI—for the same product and service.  Plus iteen365 has a droid and iPhone app which they just added and a curfew alarm which they are adding in October.  We have been thrilled with the service and reporting.  Just thought we would share our experience with your audience.

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