Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GPS tracking apps make Halloween safer

In this Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 photo, Dylan, left, and Michelle Porterfield, of West Bend, Wis., walk with their son, Hunter, 4, dressed as a police officer, while trick-or-treating in West Bend. Parents can now use apps to digitally accompany their trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. (AP Photo/West Bend Daily News, John Ehlke)

Apps » Keep tabs on your children while they trick or treat.

Parents spend their whole lives teaching their children not to accept candy from strangers. So what do we do? We celebrate a night each year where we allow our children to accept candy from strangers ­â€" and in the dark no less.

Such is the ghastly tradition of Halloween. But with today’s technology, namely a smartphone, parents can help temper their worries. There are apps for smartphones that can track your children so they can journey from door to door in search of the elusive full-sized candy bar in complete safety.

Find My Friends (iPhone, free) » If you’re an Apple user with kids who also have iPhones, this free Apple-produced app should be on your phone anyway. It is capable of tracking your kids, or friends, on a map at any time as long as you get their permission. And unlike other apps, it doesn’t put an extra drain on your battery.

So as your children are on their trick-or-treating route, you can use an iPad or a desktop computer to see exactly where they are going in real time. If your kids don’t have their own iPhone, perhaps you can lend them yours and then turn on another app, Find My iPhone, which tracks your own phone in case you lose it.

Trick or Treating (iPhone, 99 cents) » With this app, children can input the contact information of all of their loved ones as well as police should they get lost and need direction to get home. All of the addresses are then displayed on a map.

SecuraFone (iPhone, Android, free, monthly service fee) » This full-featured app allows you to track the user in real time. But it also can send the parent alerts and notifications whenever the child with the phone is changing directions or speed. It also includes emergency contacts that can be accessed immediately.

GPS Phone Tracker (iPhone, Android, free) » Another tracker that parents can use to keep real-time tabs on their children. It also can log where they’ve been every couple of minutes so you can see the trail they’re leaving behind.

Life360 (iPhone, Android, free) » Here is a robust GPS tracker with a lot of features including the ability to organize groups of friends you’re following, a "panic" button your child can use if he or she is in trouble, and more. The free version has basic features, but there also is a premium service that provides a lot more.

Gone Out â€" Later Folks (iPhone, $1.99) » This app allows kids to keep their parents up to date on where they are and where they are going. The child can take a picture and record the location of where he or she is at and send that information to parents.

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