GPS tracking has revolutionized the way we travel and keep track of our whereabouts. Since GPS devices have gotten smaller and less expensive, they’re now easier to attach to cars, valuables, and even your children. Although most parents don’t need to closely track their child’s movements, the GPS device can provide peace of mind if their child is running late or isn’t answering their phone.
Since most GPS trackers are designed for adults, it can be tricky to find one appropriate for small hands. Parents want a balance of functionality, durability, and convenience, especially since they have an obligation to monitor their child’s wellbeing.
Getting the best GPS tracker for kids and teens doesn’t need to be challenging. We’ve devised several key criteria to keep in mind and the features to look for when shopping for GPS trackers, with a close look at our top three choices.
Criteria to Consider
Narrowing the field down to one single best GPS tracker for kids can be challenging. Families have different needs depending on their lifestyles and their kids’ ages. Ultimately, your best option depends on how active your kids are and your budget, especially if you’re buying trackers for multiple kids.
Thanks to improvements in technology, most GPS trackers are under three by two inches and are usually around ½ inch thick. This makes it much easier to fit in a backpack or purse and makes it possible to even use it as a spy GPS tracker.
GPS trackers are typically made of plastic, which can vary in durability. If a tracker is outside of your child’s backpack, including as a keychain or on their wrist, the durability demands are much higher. Trackers designed to be clipped inside a backpack or purse typically hold up better over the long term.
Battery life on these devices varies dramatically, especially if you frequently check on your child’s location. Some can go up to a week without needing charging, while some risk running out of battery power in the middle of the day if they are not charged every night. Devices without screens tend to have a longer battery life on average.
Wristwatch trackers are a common option because they stay attached to your child more consistently than a backpack does. However, it’s also easy for kids to remove wrist trackers and either deliberately or accidentally forget them. Plus, they can get in the way during sports, so your child may go hours at a time without wearing them.
Trackers that fit easily into your child’s backpack or purse are the best option for commutes to and from school as well as social events. You may also choose to get a GPS that fits safely inside a car glove department if a driving teen is your main concern.
Devices with basic GPS tracking range from under $100 to over $200 in cost. However, most also require a monthly service fee due to the cell signal used to communicate the location. This typically runs around $30 per month but may be more with some providers.
Most tracking devices have a range of features available in addition to basic GPS tracking via a smartphone app. However, very low-end models may omit essential features. Also, not all possible features are necessary for maintaining your child’s safety, and some could cause issues with your child or their school.
Not all devices allow you to view a history of where your child has been. Although not all parents need this feature, it may be helpful if you suspect your teenager isn’t being completely honest with you about their activities. Some devices let you view location history in an app on your smartphone, which is convenient for on-the-go use.
GeoFencing enables you to set up geographical boundaries that trigger an alert if your child goes in or out of them. Although this is helpful for watching for suspicious activity, it’s also good for everyday use, such as knowing when your child has left school.
A panic button usually makes a noise to alert nearby people the user needs help. However, in some cases, a panic button that makes noise could increase the danger for your child.
Panic buttons on GPS tracking devices often light up to confirm the button has been pressed and send a text message and app notification with the device’s location. If your teen is old enough to handle the responsibility, pair this with a self-defense keychain or another item from our best non-lethal weapons for optimal protection.
A few kid-friendly GPS devices have one-way listening-in features that allow you to listen to ambient audio wherever the tracker is located. However, some experts worry using this feature could be bad for your relationship with your child, as it erodes the trust you’ve built with them. Some states and school districts may also prohibit use of the device inside schools, especially if your child is not aware you’re using it, so it’s best to avoid this feature altogether.
The Wherible™ GPS Tracker barely looks like a GPS tracker and is small enough to fit into a backpack or purse pocket. The rechargeable device is lightweight and fits easily on a lanyard or keychain if desired. It contains a robust suite of features that provide overall safety for kids and teens.
The history feature allows you to see several days’ location history, making it easier to follow up on any irregularities in your child’s routines. The GeoFencing feature makes it easy to set up alerts for monitoring instead of having to check manually any time you suspect something is wrong. Even if you’re unfamiliar with GPS and GeoFencing capabilities, the app makes it easy to set custom boundaries for your child.
The monthly subscription cost is the same as or lower than most competitors, despite having such a robust range of features. The subscription does not require a contract, so you can set it up to use only during the summers or sports seasons when your child is more active than usual.
Since the device is also designed for senior citizens, it includes fall detection, but you can adjust the sensitivity to avoid false alarms. It also omits audio eavesdropping features that can cause privacy concerns for older and younger users alike.
It includes a panic button that can send text alerts to an unlimited number of recipients. These alerts include the device’s location, so if you call your child and he or she doesn’t answer, you can immediately send help. At under ½ an inch thick, it slides easily into any pocket so your child can keep it readily at hand.
The only potential flaw is the device limits you to automatically logging the user’s location in 1-hour, 5-minute, or 2-minute increments. The huge gap between the five-minute and one-hour options is less than ideal, especially since the five-minute option drops the device’s battery life to just 40 hours. However, since it still allows you to retrieve an updated location manually at any time, this is an excellent option for families who need basic GPS tracking.
The iTrail is a sleek black device the size of a car key fob. It’s a little thicker than the Wherible, but, at two inches long, it’s noticeably smaller. It’s perfect for pairing with car keys, lanyards, or a child’s backpack.
The plastic case is highly durable and stays secure on lanyards, clips, and more. The battery life is good, thanks to its high-quality rechargeable battery, and it includes a wall charger and plug. Plus, the iTrail has an ultra-efficient battery-saving mode that allows its battery to retain its recharging ability for up to 15 years.
The best feature of the iTrail is its app, which is intuitive and convenient. You can easily add multiple iTrail trackers you’ve purchased and for which you have a monthly subscription. The high level of customization and GeoFencing makes it easy to manage multiple children.
You can view the tracker’s location in satellite view or Google maps view, making it easier to confirm your child’s whereabouts. You can even generate reports of past activities to check for unusual movement.
This model is more expensive than the Wherible mentioned above, but its monthly subscription cost is the same. The ability to track multiple children on the same screen is convenient, though, so it may be worth it for busy families with varying schedules. Plus, the battery quality makes it an investment that can be passed down to younger children as they mature into more responsibilities.
The only downside is there is no built-in panic button on the tracker. If you’re concerned about your child being able to call for help if needed, make sure they know how to use their phone’s emergency call features quickly.
Although it often makes sense to keep a GPS tracker directly on your teenager, having a GPS tracker in your car can also help in case of theft. This inexpensive tracker is perfect for glove compartments, where it can last for days without needing to be recharged.
The tracker is designed for long-term use in cars and works at temperatures between -4°F and 131°F. It automatically switches into a special battery-saving mode when it does not detect motion. As soon as the 3-axis accelerometer detects movement, it starts transmitting data to your phone or computer.
In addition to fast and accurate real-time location data, the tracker allows you to view route history. It uses GeoFencing with a Google Maps interface and has user-friendly customizable alerts. Since it uses an LTE sim card, it provides faster data than 2G models of years past.
One of the best assets of this tracker is it updates the location very frequently. This is especially important for vehicle trackers, as they can move much more quickly than your teenager can on foot or even by public transit. You can receive updates every minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds, or 5 seconds.
The monthly subscription cost varies based on the number of times per minute you want the GPS tracker to ping. More detailed tracking can dramatically drive up the monthly cost, but you can secure a discount by paying for a year in advance. The 30-second interval plan provides an outstanding balance of security and price for parents.
Choosing the Right Protection
The risks children face today are more complex than any faced by previous generations. Online predators, risky behavior by peers, and other hazards can put your child’s wellbeing at risk. Even if your child makes good choices and stays away from trouble, he or she could be targeted by someone or end up in an accident.
Invest in a GPS tracker that gives you peace of mind and allows you to react to trouble in an instant. With these three options, you can choose the best GPS tracker for your family and rely on it throughout your child’s teenage years.
The Home Security Superstore is your online resource for GPS, personal defense, surveillance, survival, and more. Whether your kids are just starting school or you are about to send them to college, make us your first choice for safety needs. Reach out to us anytime with questions about our products and their possibilities.
Does GPS tracking work anywhere?
GPS relies on satellites, so it provides a highly accurate location nearly anywhere in the world. Since GPS tracking devices rely on cellular data to transmit the location to you, the devices will work anywhere with cell service.
Is it legal to track my child?
It is generally legal to track a child whom you have custody of if they are under 18, but the legality may be murky if you have split custody or your child is over 18. However, you always have the right to track your property, so you can keep a GPS tracker in a vehicle if you own it.
Are there any GPS trackers that don’t require subscriptions?
Every GPS tracking device will require some kind of subscription to a network in order to transmit data. Even if it’s possible for a device to include the subscription in the base price, this massively drives up the up-front cost.