It’s the end of July, which means we’re at a very strange part of the summer. Kids can feel the season beginning to come to an end. The clock is ticking. The days are getting slightly shorter and every sunset seems like it stretches just long enough to taunt you – it pretends that these days can last forever, but you know they can’t. As I kid, I remember this time of year as one of increasing frenzy, as I tried to milk the last drops of freedom out of a suddenly-tightening leash. It’s a great time, but also one where parents have to be worried as kids fight to keep the summer spirit alive. Who knows what they’ll do in the eleventh hour?
Of course, parents are always going to be worried about their kids. To some extent, parents are even more worried about kids these days than ever before. You’ll hear older parents talk about how they’re glad they aren’t raising kids in today’s environment, what with the internet, social media, and smartphones. And while there is an element of truth there, our mobile tech has actually helped us ease some of the bigger fears of parenting, thanks to child safety apps. There are a number of new ways to make sure our children are safe and protected even when they are out of sight.
Child Safety Apps – Car Seat Monitors
People who don’t have children have a hard time understanding how anyone could leave their kid alone in the car on a hot day (or any day). But parents are tired and maybe the kid is quiet, finally sleeping, and the parent has a momentary mental lapse. It happens, and when it does, it’s an unbearable tragedy. But mobile tech can make sure it never happens again.
There are a couple of ways mobile tech can help with this issue. There are car seat monitors that, when connected to smart cars, start beeping when the engine is turned off if they still detect a weight in the car seat. That is an immediate and obvious alert. Then there are apps that can take this theme even further. Imagine an app that is connected to a smart car seat that not only beeps if you’ve turned the car off but also gives you an alert as you’re walking away. If you get, say, 15 feet from the car while the child is still in the seat, an alarm goes off. Some critics sniff that this will cause unnecessary panic. After all, maybe you’re just quickly pushing the shopping cart back to the corral, or maybe your partner is still in the car, making an alarm unnecessary. However, shutting off an alarm that you don’t need (this time, anyway) is an infinitely small price to pay for peace of mind.
Child Safety Apps That Track and Monitor
One of the dilemmas facing modern parents is when their kid should get a smartphone of their own. Smartphones are amazing tools for learning, but they’re also great for wasting time, which is something most kids don’t need any help with. But what they are also good for is knowing where your kid is and what they’re up to. It is an invaluable way to keep track of your child, in ways that go from being pretty common-sense to being extremely protective, which, as a parent, is your right to decide. Here are a few layers of app security:
- Apps that can track: There are apps, like Google Latitude or FamilyTracker, that allow a smartphone GPS to be synched up with other phones, so that on your phone or tablet or computer you can get an idea of where your kid is at any time. This is especially helpful at, say, a park or crowded event. It’s easy to lose sight of your child and this can help you track them down quickly.
- Apps that alert: This is a next step. There are some apps, like Sygic or Life360, that will send you alerts when your child reaches a pre-designated zone like home or school or a friend’s house. If you want, you can also designate places they shouldn’t go, so you know if they go to the comic book store or cross over to the wrong side of the tracks or go to Tommy’s house. He’s just a bad influence, that Tommy!
- Apps that can track online activity: These apps, such as mamaBear or MobileKids, alert you when your child is sending texts, if there is bullying on their Facebook page, if they access a site they shouldn’t, or anything else that revolves around your child’s online presence. The level of involvement is up to you and can vary depending on your needs.
- Apps that show video: Baby monitoring apps are extremely big now, as you can watch the crib from anywhere in the house (well, almost anywhere – don’t go wandering). You can also set up apps like iCam, which can stream webcam video from any room, or even outside, so that you can keep an eye on older, more active kids without having to be there.
Of course, if the worst happens, we live in an age where photos of missing children can be sent around the world in a heartbeat. There are many apps and programs that set out Amber-type alerts, along with pictures and the ability to track smartphones has proven invaluable to investigators when children go missing.
The greatest challenge of parenting is keeping your kids safe while still letting them have the joys of childhood, letting them have the same adventures and experiences and make the same mistakes that helped form you. Our mobile tech can make parenting more complicated, but in many ways, it can also make your job easier. Like all the best technology, it gives you options. The rest is up to you.