Back-to-School Safety Tech That Helps Keep Kids Safe
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By Alyssa Newcomb
With back-to-school season kicking into high gear, millions of parents in the U.S. will allow their children to walk to and from school.
No matter how mature and responsible a child is, those few blocks without adult supervision are enough to make most parents worry.
Luckily, technology can help assuage concern and keep track of a child's whereabouts. Read on for options ranging from a free app to wearables and connected home devices.
There are a number of wearables and GPS trackers parents can place on their children, but PocketFinder provides an array of features that parents of younger children may find especially handy.
The 1.4-ounce tracker easily fits into a child's backpack or pocket and updates a parent's smartphone with their location every two minutes. Parents can also set up a "geo fence," immediately alerting them if their child goes off track.
PocketFinder costs around $130 and requires a $12.95 monthly fee.
Life 360 is a free solution that is ideal for families where everyone has a smartphone. The app, which is available for iOS and Android, lets families keep track of each member's location on a map and receive alerts when someone reaches a destination that is part of their routine — such as getting to school or arriving home.
The app is free, but a premium paid service offers more features, including stolen phone protection, expanded history data and a live adviser for urgent situations.
Canary is an all-in-one home security system trained to send intelligent alerts to a user's smartphone when it detects activity.The $199 device can also come in handy for back-to-school safety.
A Canary positioned by the front door will send an alert to the parent's smartphone, allowing them to see live video and hear audio from their home. Parents can even replay the video clip from when their child walked in the door, ensuring that they were with only authorized house guests.
Like Canary, the August suite of products are one possible solution for parents who may drop their child at school, then have them walk home alone.
The August Smart Lock will send an instant alert to a user's smartphone anytime someone enters or leaves their home. The August Doorbell Cam can let you see and speak to whoever is at your door, even if you're not home. The user in control can then choose to lock or unlock their August smart lock from anywhere, making it ideal for if your kid forgets their key.
The system is designed to work together, putting the total cost of getting connected through August around $400.
Alyssa Newcomb is an NBC News contributor who writes about business and technology.