7 Gadgets That Will Help Your Kids Have a Free-Range, '80s-Style Summer
Remember Summer when you were a kid? Your mom served you some prebaked, toaster-cooked breakfast and a glass of orange juice made from concentrate, then shoved you out the back door to "go play," without an ounce of nervousness in her voice. Maybe you rounded up some neighborhood kids and played in the woods (sans bug spray, of course), headed to the closest pool (sunscreen optional), or just sat in your yard making flower crowns out of weeds. Ahhhh . . . the good old days.
If you want a similar experience for your little ones — but like any good modern mom also have some anxiety about letting your kids roam free — we've got your solution. The following gadgets will allow you to track your kids through GPS while still letting them get a taste of that old-school Summer you remember fondly. With extras like two-way calling, geo-fencing, and yes, even games, these devices will let you release your kids into the wild while reassuring you they're safe and sound.
KINGEAR K6 Smartwatch
The KINGEAR K6 kids' smartwatch ($86) comes in four awesome colors and features cool cartoon icons kids will love. The GPS tracker offers real-time location, while the phone component allows your child contact you quickly. The watch also lets your kids play games, connect with friends also wearing K6 watches, and track their sleep, while you can control their usage through a remote shutdown. The watch requires the separate purchase of a 2G SIM card.
Trax Play GPS Tracker
Trax Play ($100) is a simple device that's great for parents who want to keep tabs on kids too young to wear a GPS watch or to carry a smartphone. Slip it into a pocket or backpack, and the tracker's geofencing capability will alert you when your child wanders outside an area that you designate through the companion app.
The app also offers a history feature, which lets you view where a tracker has been in the past 24 hours and an augmented-reality view to find your child easily in a crowded setting. Choose to receive location updates ranging from every 10 seconds to 60 minutes. You pay for service separately from the device, and the price drops the more service you preorder through Trax. Six months of service costs $9 per month, while preordering 24 months drops it to $4 a month.
Tinitell Wearable Phone
As simple as it gets (perfect for parents who don't want any bells and whistles), the Tinitell wearable phone ($149) features a single button that connects your two-way call. Press the big button to initiate a call, and scroll through up to 12 contacts by pressing the plus and minus buttons. Parents can use the Tinitell app to act as a GPS locator and to manage contacts and adjust settings.
For Verizon users, the GizmoPal 2 ($80, plus monthly service fees) gives you a reliable way to keep track of your children, with the added bonus of simple two-way calling for up to four contacts (and automatic answering if your child doesn't accept your call within 10 seconds). The waterproof device allows real-time location tracking and lets you input a GPS geofence and be notified when your child exits it.
Currently accepting preorders for this Fall, the AmbyGear smartwatch ($109) not only includes a GPS locator for parents to find their child, but it also lets kids find their parents, too. The watch's two-way messaging service lets you reach out; kids reply by selecting prewritten messages, no typing required. A smart calendar also allows you to set up reminders and alerts for your child's activities and events. Even better, the watch promotes good behavior through the smart activities function, which lets them earn rewards for being physically active, getting more sleep, getting up on time, and more. The watch requires a cellular subscription plan ($15 per month).
Gogo First Waterproof Smartwatch
The Gogo First smartwatch ($60) is an affordable option for parents who want a GPS tracking watch that offers basic features (a built-in SOS alarm, real-time tracking, and geofencing). The watch also offers a phone option (a side button places a call to a preprogrammed contact when pushed) if partnered with a smartphone.
Tick Talk Smartwatch
Aimed at children ages 4 to 12, the TickTalk smartwatch ($130) works exclusively on T-Mobile's network. The watch features a GPS tracker and allows two-way phone calls between the watch and up to 13 contacts and messaging between the watch and the TickTalk app. The high-resolution touch screen features large icons, easy to navigate for little fingers.