It’s the type of situation that every parent fears. One moment, you’re at the playground with your child enjoying the best that Mother Nature has to offer on a warm summer day. You hear a noise behind you and you turn around. Maybe it’s someone else in the neighborhood offering a friendly “hello.” Maybe it turns out to be nothing. You turn back around and the nightmare begins: Your child has vanished.
Father with kid
This is an especially big problem when parents go on vacation, as children have a tendency to wander whether they’re familiar with the area or not. If YOU’RE unfamiliar with the area, or if you’re halfway around the world at some exotic location, suddenly finding your child becomes an even more stressful experience than it was to begin with.

This age-old problem is a large part of the reason why GPS satellite tracking watches, tags and other pieces of equipment have become so important. It isn’t just the ability to always check in on the whereabouts of your child with a smartphone or tablet app. Many of these also come with advanced features like geo-fencing that take keeping an eye out on your kids to the next level.

What Is Geo-Fencing?

Geo-fencing has been common for the last several years, but it has become increasingly popular with parents and pet-owners in particular. With the right GPS-equipped device, you can create a virtual perimeter around a specific location. If you want to let your dog out into the yard but you don’t want him to go into the street, for example, you could create a virtual “fence” around your property. If the dog crosses that line, you get a push notification on your phone instantly, allowing you to take the appropriate action as quickly as possible.

The same basic concept is at play when it comes to geo-fencing for monitoring kids, too. If you know your child is at the playground and you want them to be able to both enjoy a bit of independence but don’t want to have to worry about them, you can create a virtual perimeter around that playground. If the child steps even a foot or two beyond that perimeter, you know about it – no exceptions.

These types of devices are typically designed for children around the age of 10 or 11, who are too young to own a mobile phone but still need to be watched carefully. Some devices, like GPS-powered smart watches, even allow parents to eavesdrop on a child’s conversations with others via the built-in microphone. Others even “tether” the child to the parent – if the child walks beyond a specified distance away from the parent, an alert will sound.

What really makes these devices powerful (and popular), however, has to do with some of the additional features that are commonly available. Most of them have SOS buttons, for example, that allow a child to press a button and instantly alert the parent in the event of an emergency. Not only will this let parents keep an eye on what their kids are up to, but it will also go a long way towards combating issues like “stranger danger” wherever possible.

Experts in the industry agree that there has been a noticeable boost in popularity for these devices over the last few years alone. Not only have sales doubled in 2016 versus 2015, but they are particularly popular shortly before the warm summer months of the year when parents will be taking their kids on vacation.

These types of devices are not without their considerations, however. Before buying one, it is important for parents to sit down and have a conversation with their kids about how these items will affect their privacy and what that means. Likewise, it is important for them not to lull parents into a false sense of security, as the best defense against something happening with your child is and will always be a little good, old-fashioned proactive common sense.