(KTLA) – It’s a question I often get from parents: How do I track my kids on their way to school? It could be on foot, carpool or bus, but the methods remain the same. Here are some gadgets that can help.
The first thing to come to mind might be Apple’s $29 AirTag. It’s small, convenient, and the tracking software is built into millions of Apple devices out of the box.
But keep in mind, the AirTag is designed to track things, not people or pets. There is no on-board GPS or cellular connection, which means the device must rely on nearby Apple devices like iPhones to send their updated location data. For this reason, tracking updates might not be in real time.
As long as you know the limitations, the AirTag is easily clipped to a backpack and can provide general whereabouts, but it can’t be relied for precise, up-to-the-minute tracking. Also, there are no monthly fees.
T-Mobile’s SyncUP Tracker might be a better choice since it does have an onboard cellular connection and GPS built in. This means it can connect to T-Mobile towers and relay its exact coordinates in real time. The device can also be set up with boundary alerts, so you can get a notification when it enters or exits a certain area, like a schoolyard or home.
Battery life is the biggest consideration here. T-Mobile says it can last up to seven days, but realistically you can expect three to four days of use before recharging.
SyncUP is $60 for the device and service starts at $5 a month. Keep in mind, T-Mobile doesn’t specifically recommend this for tracking children — they offer a Timex smartwatch for that.
A device called the Jiobit operates in a similar manner. It also has an onboard cellular connection and GPS built in. But this device is meant for tracking kids and even older adults, so the software is designed with them in mind.
You can see real-time GPS, location history of where your child went, and get alerts when they arrive or leave trusted places you set up.
The JioBit is $130 plus service, which starts at $9 a month. A no-contract plan runs $15 a month.
Gabb Watch lets you keep track of your kids and call and text them, too.
The smartwatch is designed with kids in mind and allows you to set the contacts they can interact with. There’s also an emergency SOS feature and a fun digital pet they can play with.
Gabb can also count their steps. The watch is $100 and service starts at $10 a month for a cellular connection.
If you want the most thorough, but pricey, solution for keeping track of your child, the Apple Watch SE for cellular handles just about every function you can think of. It can make calls, track them on a map, let them iMessage with friends, track their activity and play music.
They can even download additional apps to expand functionality.
Last year, Apple introduced a feature called Family Setup, which lets you activate an Apple Watch for a child in a way that doesn’t need an iPhone nearby to function. There’s even a special, less distracting watch face that automatically appears during classroom hours.
The solution requires an Apple Watch 4 or up, or an Apple Watch SE, with a cellular connection.
The watch starts at $329 and cellular service, which you activate through your carrier, runs about $10 a month.
If your child already has a smartphone, take a look at the excellent Life360 app. There are lots of helpful features built in for families, including a way to monitor their driving and location.
Listen to the Rich on Tech podcast for answers to your tech questions. Follow Rich DeMuro on Instagram for more tech news, tips and tricks.