Gadgets and apps can help parents keep track of kids

Gadgets and apps can help parents keep track of kids
The bSafe app helps parents keep track of their kids. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The bSafe app helps parents keep track of their kids. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It can be hard for a parent to know if their child is where they're supposed to be. But now technology is making that easier.

A busy shopping mall can be a scary place to bring a child. Sten Kirkbak says his son Filip was 4 years old when he took his eyes off him for a few seconds and he just disappeared. He said that started the 30 worst minutes of his life. At one point, he thought Filip had been kidnapped.

They found Filip in the parking lot, but that moment led him to create a watch called Filip. It's geared for children too young with a smart phone.

Jamie O'Neill of Louisville bought it for her 10-year-old son Christian this Christmas. It works like a phone with five people mom has chosen. And Christian can also receive texts from them.

But what Jamie really loves is that she gets alert when Christian has left school or when he arrives at the gym or home, safe places Mom has designated. And she can enlarge the radius or make it very small.

There's also an emergency button. If pushed all of Christian's contacts are notified.

"It does give you peace of mind if a situation arises that causes me to want to know where he is or he actually has to use emergency function," O'Neill said.

The watch is available through AT&T and costs $150 plus a $10 monthly fee.

For those children who are a little older and already have a smart phone, there are apps such as bSafe which is free.

The founder considers it an advanced version of 911. If a child is walking home, they can set an alarm. If they don't make it by a certain time, their selected contacts would be notified. You can also track your child.

"My daughter will click on the app and say can you follow me. And the same way you see an Uber driving toward you I can see my daughter walking toward me," founder Silje Vallestad said.

Jeff Rushton, director of digital media for the University of Louisville, has been testing out various tracking apps with his own family.

Right now he's testing Family Tracker. He says he can use it to look at the history of where his daughter has been. He recommends going with the paid version since the free version doesn't offer much.

He also suggests that parents of teenagers consider Qustodio.

"It tracks everything. Every click. Every text. Every message sent from an iPhone. Every game they play is tracked," Rushton said.

Rushton says this is just the beginning. He's waiting for technology that not only tracks kids but interacts with social media so you know who they are with.

"Real question is, is she doing this with people I know. And that's where the future of this technology is going," Rushton said.

And it may be here before his own daughter Lexie is a teenager.

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