The best GPS trackers and devices for kids in 2023

The best GPS trackers and devices for kids in 2023

Kids manage to wander off no matter how much we keep an eye on them. Whether you’re at the grocery store, park, or airport, a GPS tracker can help you keep tabs on your child’s location. With this technology, you can find peace of mind when it comes to your child’s safety.

Dr. Kaitlyn Siu, a child neurologist as well as founder and CEO of Teach Your Kids Code, spoke with ZDNET about the ethicality of GPS tracking. “When it comes to tech ethics, GPS tracking raises valid concerns,” Siu said. “As a mother, ensuring the safety and well-being of my child is of utmost importance. However, I would balance the need for safety with respecting [my child’s] privacy and autonomy, using the tracker as a tool for peace of mind rather than for constant surveillance.”

Also: The best smartwatches for kids

GPS trackers and devices for kids are made to have long-lasting batteries and portable designs, so you can slip or clip them into your child’s backpack or coat pocket. These trackers feature advanced GPS location technology that sends you smartphone notifications about your child’s location. 

While there are many different options on the market, we’ve rounded up the best GPS trackers and devices for kids — so you can protect your child while they’re out and about. 

Pros

  • Real-time tracking
  • Designed specifically for kids

Cons

  • Monthly subscription fee

Jiobit Smart Tag specs: Price: $129 | Battery life: One week | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $8.99 to $16.99 per month | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Cellular, GPS 

Jiobit’s Smart Tag is our pick for the best GPS tracker for kids. It’s a small tracking device that clips onto a belt, but you can also use accessories to place the Smart Tag on your child at all times. The device comes with a charging cradle for powering the battery, which typically lasts around a week per full charge depending on your settings and use. 

In addition to the device price, the smart tag requires a monthly subscription with three different plans to choose from. The “Basic” plan costs $8.99, Plus is $14.99 and Protect is $16.99 per month. Each plan includes always-on connectivity and real-time location tracking, along with navigational directions to the Smart Tag’s location. The Plus and Protect plans include extra features such as unlimited users (to share the location with), unlimited GeoFence locations (basic is limited to two), and 30-day location history, along with push, SMS, and email alerts. 

Also: The best Bluetooth trackers

There’s a small button on the front of the tracker that a child can press to alert a guardian of their location and, if needed, dispatch emergency services by calling 911. This feature is only available when you sign up for the Protect plan. 

The Jiobit Smart Tag is designed specifically for kids and includes ample features to help you keep tabs on your child at all times. However, it’s also one of the most expensive trackers on a monthly basis, out of every GPS device we tested. 

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Battery lasts for one year

Cons

  • Only works with Apple products
  • Problems with Apple’s Find My network

Apple AirTag specs: Price: $29 or four for $87 | Battery life: One year | Real-time tracking: No | Monthly cost: None | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Apple’s Find My Network 

Apple’s AirTags are about the size of a quarter, and there are countless accessories you can use to attach the small tracker to a jacket or backpack — or you can even slip it into a pocket. There’s no monthly fee, and the battery lasts around a year — after which you can replace the CR2032 battery. 

Apple has tried to make it clear that AirTags are not meant to track pets or children, but it’s only natural to be curious: How well can an AirTag keep track of your kid? In general, an AirTag does an okay job. The problem is that an AirTag requires another Apple device to be nearby and connected to the internet in order for its location to be shared with Apple’s Find My network. 

Review: Apple AirTags: Tile can’t compete with Apple’s Find My network

For example, tracking a young child on the school bus requires someone — most likely another student or the bus driver — on the bus to have an iPhone or cellular Apple Watch. If there aren’t any Apple devices on the bus, the location can’t update. 

Another potential drawback to AirTags is that you need another Apple device to view the location. That means you’ll need an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch for the initial setup. After that, you can use a Mac to view the AirTag’s location. If you use a Windows or Android device, AirTags just won’t work for you. 

An AirTag is better suited for tracking a lost backpack, keys, or another random item that you can be (somewhat) patient about tracking down. The AirTag is arguably the best tracker available for items, period. But for tracking a child, there are better options. 

Pros

  • Schedule location notifications
  • Create alerts

Cons

  • Battery life depends on use frequency

Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker specs: Price: $129 | Battery life: 4 months | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $39.90/year after first year | Connectivity: Bluetooth, GPS, LTE 

Invoxia’s Cellular GPS Tracker looks more like a long USB drive than it does a tracking device. The blank housing has all of the hardware for LTE and GPS connectivity and a battery that can last up to four months.

For $129, you’ll get the device and a year’s worth of service. After the first year, you’ll pay $39.90 for another year’s worth of service. 

Also: The best kids phones starting at $99

“As a tech-savvy individual, my acquisition of the Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker was truly transformative,” Johannes Larsson, founder and CEO of Financer, told ZDNET. Larsson explained:

The most crucial incident where this tracker proved invaluable was during a family camping trip. Our family’s youngest, prone to wanderlust, strayed from our campsite. With the sinking feeling of panic setting in, the Invoxia Tracker proved its worth. Using real-time tracking, we pinpointed his location to a nearby stream, far from the designated trails. Without this technological marvel, the outcome could have been drastically different. The experience underscored how such devices could serve as essential tools in our increasingly interconnected world, providing safety, security, and peace of mind. Despite the monthly cost, the benefits it offers are priceless, making it a worthy investment in today’s tech-driven landscape.

Using the Android or iPhone app, you can create alerts that are triggered whenever the tracker enters or leaves a specific area. For example, you can create an alert that lets you know when your child has arrived at school or got home. However, the timeliness of those alerts will depend on how often you have the tracker reporting its location. 

feature Invoxia added last year is Real-Time Boost, which will report the tracker’s location every 30 seconds for the next 30 minutes. This feature only becomes active once your tracker does its next scheduled location update, and that’s based on how often you currently have it set to update its location. 

There’s also a button on the tracker that a child can press to send their current location. 

If you don’t mind charging the device via a microUSB connection, and the 5-minute alert interval is acceptable to you, then the Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker might make sense. However, due to its size, it’s better suited for placement in a backpack. 

Pros

  • Color touchscreen display
  • Low monthly cost
  • Loaded with features and tracking

Cons

  • Battery life isn’t great

Garmin Bounce specs: Price: $140 | Battery life: Two days | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $10/month | Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi, LTE

Garmin just released its latest kids smartwatch known as Bounce this month. Along with real-time location tracking, it includes communication features, health and sleep tracking, games, and much more. As far as tracking goes, parents can use location tracking on the Bounce to view their child’s current whereabouts in the Garmin app and be notified when they leave pre-approved areas. 

Also: The best Garmin watches 

LTE connectivity (that you can purchase from Garmin for $10/month) lets you have two-way texting and voice messaging with your kid for up to 20 parent-approved contacts. 

There are also great health metrics like sleep, steps, and active minutes to keep an eye on your growing child’s health. Plus, Garmin includes activity-related games within the watch so kids can unlock rewards for meeting their active goals, or responsibilities parents set like completing a chore.

Pros

  • Camera and task manager included
  • Easy and fun for kids to use
  • Free with service plan

Cons

  • $10/month for service

SyncUp Kids Watch specs: Price: $174 | Battery life: Up to a week | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $10 | Connectivity: 4G LTE 

For kids who are too young for a smartphone but mature enough to take care of a gadget, there are products like T-Mobile’s SyncUp Kids Watch and the Verizon GizmoWatch (more on it in a minute). 

The wrist-worn gadget costs $174. However, if you’re adding a line to your account, you can get the watch for free. It’s $10 a month for service, which allows you to talk to and track your child in real-time using T-Mobile’s network. 

In general, the SyncUp watch has similar functionality to what you’d find on a normal smartwatch. It includes a camera, and your child can use the device to send and receive messages. With the task manager, a parent can add chores or other tasks for their child to focus on after school.   

Also: The best kids’ headphones

The interface is playful and easy for a child to use. And, parents, rest assured that you can use the School Mode to disable extra features during class time, ensuring your kid won’t be too distracted by their new wrist computer. 

If you want a device that tracks your child’s location and allows for two-way communication, the SyncUp Kids watch makes a lot of sense.

Pros

  • School mode
  • Real-time tracking
  • Video calling

Cons

  • LTE connectivity costs extra

Verizon Gizmo Watch Disney Edition specs: Price: $200 | Battery life: Up to three days (standby) or 1.5 days constant use  | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $10 | Connectivity: GPS, Cellular 

Verizon’s GizmoWatch has been around for years. For my test, I received the Disney version of the GizmoWatch, and it has more features than the Verizon GizmoWatch 2 (it also costs $100 more). This watch features animated characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars, creating an interactive user experience. Characters react in lively ways on the home screen when checking the weather and when notifications come in. 

“We bought the Verizon GizmoWatch about two years ago for our kiddos, then ages 6 and 8,” Kendra Paulson, Assistant Editor at New England With Love, told ZDNET. “We live on a military base and while it is pretty safe here, we wanted to have a way to communicate with our girls while they were out riding bikes and playing in the neighborhood. I can glance at the Gizmo map and see where my kids are and we can text and call back and forth, so it’s like having a starter phone that straps to their wrist.”

Also: The best tablets for kids 

Paulson continued: “I imagine we will reevaluate GPS tracking as our kids get into their teen years and are looking for more privacy in their lives, but the tech is here and available for the younger crowd that still requires closer supervision, so why wouldn’t we use tools that help us stay connected as they practice their independence?”

The watch has a lot of the same features as T-mobile’s SyncUp Kids watch. That is, you can send and receive messages, take calls, and it even has a built-in camera. You can add up to 10 trusted contacts for your child to communicate with while wearing the watch. 

You’ll also get real-time tracking and geofence support, so you can receive alerts when your child leaves or arrives at a certain location. 

Just like the SyncUp Kids watch, you can create tasks for your child, set up school mode to keep them from using the watch at school, and more. 

Keep in mind that both GizmoWatch models have a one-time $35 activation fee from Verizon.

Pros

  • Camera
  • SOS button
  • Three different color options

Cons

  • SIM card sold separately
  • Battery life drains quickly

Xplora X5 Play specs: Price: $150 | Battery life: 72 hours (on standby) | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $7.99/month | Connectivity: Cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS

The Xplora X5 Play watch uses a GPS, active Wi-Fi, and GSM triangulation to provide real-time location tracking. The watch also offers geofencing, so you can set up safety zones around key locations like home and school. If your child wanders out of these pre-marked areas, you will be notified. 

It comes in three color options (blue, black, and pink) and has other features: Voice calling from pre-saved numbers, text messaging, emojis, an SOS mode, and a camera with 4GB of storage space. 

The watch itself doesn’t have any games, but there are games involved via the GoPlay app. For every 1,000 steps that your child takes, they will earn one Xcoin, which can be saved up and redeemed for real prizes in the GoPlay store. (For this experience, you’ll need to use a smartphone or a tablet.)

Also: The best parental control apps to keep your kids safe

You’ll also need a SIM card to use the cellular functions of the watch, which is included with the watch and works with most mobile carriers except Verizon. 

In addition, a minimum one-year subscription is required, and it runs at about $8 per month. 

Our recommendation for the best GPS tracker for kids is the Jiobit Smart Tag. It comes with many accessories to clip onto anything, and it’s made specifically for kids. However, any of the options on this list would make good GPS trackers and devices for kids. It just depends on what you want, and which features are a priority to you. 

GPS tracker device

Price

Battery

Real-time tracking?

Jiobit Smart Tag

$130

One week

Yes

Apple AirTag

$29

One year

No

Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker 

$129

Four months

No

Garmin Bounce

$140

Two days

Yes

SyncUp Kids Watch

$174

One week

Yes

Verizon GizmoWatch

$200

Up to three days (standby) or 1.5 days of constant use

Yes

Xplora X5 Play

$150

72 hours (on standby)

Yes

If money isn’t a concern, the Jiobit seems like the best option. Not only is it small and easy for your kid to tote around, but there are also plenty of options that tie into the service it provides. However, the monthly fee may be a deterrent for some.

In that case, the Invoxia tracker is a reliable choice. You’ll just have to settle for placing it in a backpack and not in your kid’s pocket. 

Lastly, all of the smartwatch options on this list offer a robust set of features and options for both littler kids and older kids. 

Choose this GPS tracker…

If you want…

Jiobit Smart Tag

The best overall option designed specifically for kids. The Protect plan allows the child to press a button to alert a guardian of their location.

Apple AirTag

An Apple-friendly product. There’s no monthly fee, and the battery lasts around a year.

Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker 

A discreet-looking tracker. For $129, you’ll get the device and a year’s worth of service.

Garmin Bounce

A smartwatch loaded with features and real-time tracking. Parents can use location tracking on the Bounce to view their child’s current whereabouts in the Garmin app,                 

SyncUp Kids Watch

A wearable watch for kids under T-Mobile. The wrist-worn gadget costs $174, but you can get the watch for free if you’re adding a line to your account.

Verizon GizmoWatch

A wearable watch for kids under Verizon. You can create tasks for your child and set up school mode to keep them from using the watch at school.

Xplora X5 Play

A GPS watch that encourages kids to play outside. You can set up safety zones around key locations, like home and school, with geofencing. 

We chose these GPS trackers and devices for kids through a mix of research and personal experience. We compared factors like pricing, reviews (both good and bad), different features, and battery life when making our top picks. 

In our guide, the Jiobit Smart Tag is one of the smallest options. It can clip onto a belt, and there’s a button on the front of the tracker that a child can press to send an alert to a parent of their location.

No, Fitbit makes GPS-enabled activity trackers for kids, but not location trackers with real-time location tracking.

Kanyarat Nuchangpuek, a co-founder of the Ling App, summarized this issue best. Nuchangpuek told ZDNET: 

As my daughters grow older and eventually head off into the world on their own, it will cross my mind wanting to know where they’re at and whether they’re safe. On the other hand, it bothers me that I could be crossing a line peeking into their private lives. It’s similar to finding out that your mother read your diary. It’s an invasion of privacy and may also deter my children from experiencing life in their own way. Having to wonder “is mommy watching” shouldn’t be a natural thought. 

When it comes to the location of any loved one, especially a child, privacy is a natural concern. Regardless of which option you choose, it’s a good idea to take measures to protect your data, especially when it involves your child’s location.

For example, when signing up for an account, use a unique and complicated password — preferably stored in a password manager — to add a layer of protection to your account. 

If you’re unsure about a product or service, read through the company’s privacy policy. For example, Jiobit is owned by Life360, which reportedly sells some of its customers’ location data to third parties. However, on the Jiobit website, the company promises none of the data associated with the tracker will be sold. 

Unfortunately, many GPS trackers and devices for kids require some kind of additional subscription payment. This is especially true if the device requires an app with advanced features, or a wearable that provides LTE connectivity. 

Be sure to factor this extra cost in when making your final decision. 

There are many devices you can use to track your children, but not all are worth the financial investment. When you buy a GPS tracker for your kid, you need it to work efficiently for a reasonable price. 

If these seven options aren’t what you’re looking for, here are a few other GPS tracker options to consider:

tracki

Contents

ZDNET RECOMMENDS

Tracki GPS Tracker

This small, affordable mini tracker is waterproof and has up to five days of battery life.

angelsense

ZDNET RECOMMENDS

AngelSense Personal GPS Tracker

The AngelSense has a continuous all-day monitoring GPS for the most accurate location possible.

tictalk

ZDNET RECOMMENDS

TickTalk 4

This smartphone watch for kids is durable, with IP67 water resistance, and has accurate GPS location tracking and emergency SOS.

ZDNET Recommends

Read More


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *