YOU LOVE YOUR KIDS…
So of course you want to do everything you can to keep them safe. In today's world, the threats to our kids are growing in number and in danger. A lot of it has to do with technology. We have more access to information than ever before. We also have more access to people than ever before. And we are also all more distracted than ever before.
BUT THANKS TO TECHNOLOGY, KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR TEEN HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER…
The very thing that makes the world so much more dangerous can actually make it a lot easier for you to keep up with the whereabouts of your teen and help your teen get help in a dangerous situation.
There are many safety apps out there, but I tried out three of them: Life360, BSafe, and Noonlight. Here's what I learned:
This app allows you to create “circles,” and members of each circle can track the whereabouts of other members in that circle. The most obvious “circle” would include your immediate family members who have smart phones.
Some of the cool features of Life360 are:
- It gives you the GPS location of each person in your circle.
- It allows you to see each person's battery life. This could be useful in a situation where one member of the family is not showing up but you know that recently their battery was low. You could infer that their battery has died making them untraceable. Of course they could have also turned their phone off on purpose or turned off the tracking in the app, but you at least have a little more information with the data from the app.
- You can see each person's driving history for that day, including their top speed. It doesn't tell you how fast they were going at any given moment, but you could determine if they were using a reasonable speed for the route they were taking. For example, if their top speed was 65 mph but they were driving through a neighborhood, you know to have a conversation later.
- You can create multiple circles. For example, you could have a circle for your babysitters who may have to pick your kids up from time to time. You could have the sitter turn on tracking while she (or he) is with your children allowing you to see where they are and even if the sitter is using a safe driving speed. Then after the sitter leaves, she (or he) could turn tracking off so that you aren't able to see their whereabouts when they are not with your children. Because that would be weird.This feature could also be useful for a group trip to allow all of the people traveling together to keep track of each other, especially on a trip when the likelihood of getting lost is high, like a ski trip or an excursion in an unknown city.
Some things to note:
- There is a free version and a few paid versions. All of the features above are available on the free version, but the paid versions give you even more information that might be worth paying for.
- A person can turn off tracking within the app. That means your kids could potentially turn off your ability to track them. So if you plan to use this app, that would be an important conversation to have beforehand to set some ground rules and expectations.
- The app does allow for messaging within the app, which is a cause for concern for some parents whose children try to find creative ways to message others without being detected. I think it would be a good practice to regularly check your child's app to be sure they have not joined any circles outside of your family circle or another circle that you approve of.
- I have personally experienced some minor errors in its notifications. For example, I have my office saved as a location. Occasionally if I am moving about the office, my wife will get a notification that I have left the office, when I have in fact not.
This app allows you to designate “guardians” and alerts your guardians if you are in a situation that you feel is dangerous. Upon initiating the alert, the user's GPS location and a live stream from the camera of their phone is automatically sent to the people designated as guardians. When the person has reached a safe place, the alert can be turned off and the live stream will end.
Another nice feature of the BSafe app is that it allows the user to activate an audible alarm whenever he or she senses danger. This could be useful in warding off a potential threat.
Things to note about this app:
- “Guardians” do not have to have the app to be notified. They will receive a text notification if an alert is initiated.
- Guardians will be able to access a recording of the live stream for some time even after the live stream has ended. This could be useful in the event that the alert was turned off under duress.
- This app did not receive a 5 star rating. Some users complained that using this app was a battery drain. Others reported that there were glitches causing it to not work properly. These issues may or may not have been resolved at this time.
This app is similar to BSafe in that it allows you potentially alert someone who can help in a dangerous situation. Unlike BSafe, the only person you would be alerting is the authorities.
So for example, if a person is in a situation that could be fine or could possibly be dangerous, say walking out of the grocery store at night, he or she would hold down the alert button in the Noonlight app until reaching safety. Once the button is released, users have ten seconds to enter their pin number. If the pin number is not entered or is entered incorrectly, the police are automatically notified and the app begins tracking your location.
This could really increase the possibility of a safe ending in the event of something like an abduction.
Something to note is that this app does cost $2.99 per month, which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides or the life-saving help it could provide.
So the bottom line is this…there are lots of things out there that threaten the safety of your kids. However, a little bit of technology could go a long way in keeping them safe or getting them help in a dangerous situation.