Every parent knows that in spite of our best, most watchful efforts, it takes only seconds for a child to wander out of sight. A GPS tracking device can assist you in finding a lost child or in simply keeping track of where your child goes after school. We’ve rounded up our top picks for GPS devices that let you monitor and communicate with your kids anytime, anywhere.
Best Wearable GPS Trackers for Kids
Comparing GPS trackers for kids
Best for special needs: AngelSense
AngelSense offers parents one of the most robust GPS tracking devices for your kids that we’ve seen.
Pros and cons of AngelSense
- Real-time GPS location updates and alerts
- Routine-learning capabilities
- Alerts for friends and family
- Magnetic key for removal
- One-way and two-way audio
- Multiple options for wearing/attaching it
- Step counter
- High up-front and monthly costs
- Separate water-resistant case
Why we recommend AngelSense
Designed specifically for kids with autism and other special needs, the AngelSense has a host of features that make it fast and easy for you to find your kid.
The AngelSense uses cell service to send frequent location updates to your smartphone. The device learns your child’s routine and alerts you if your child is in an unexpected location or isn’t where they should be at a specific time (like on the bus home).
You can send also your child’s exact location to a set group of people like friends, teachers, neighbors, and local law enforcement. And with location playback, you can see where your kid often goes. So if you have a kid who frequently takes off, anyone can help you find your child right away.
The AngelSense also has both one-way and two-way audio for listening in on your child’s surroundings and for communicating directly with your child. And there’s an alarm so that if you can’t find your child nearby, you can follow the sound of the alarm.
The AngelSense is extremely durable, and there are several ways to wear it, including a sleeve that can be attached inside a pocket, a belt (good for clothing without pockets), and a t-shirt with a pouch. A special magnetic key is required to remove the device, so you don’t have to worry about your kids taking it off. Plus, AngelSense recently improved its device’s battery life so it lasts six days.
The AngelSense doesn’t have any color options, and it’s not waterproof, though a separate waterproof pocket can be purchased.
The only real drawback to the AngelSense is the higher up-front and monthly costs. The AngelSense Guardian Kit costs $229 for the GPS device and basic accessories. A subscription is required, and there are three service plans to choose from:
- $52.99 per month (plus an activation fee) for a month-to-month contract that you can cancel at anytime
- $39.99 per month with a one-year contract
- $33.33 per month with a one-year contract if you pay for the whole year up front
All three plans come with free shipping and a 30-day, money-back guarantee so you can try out the system and see if it works for you. There are also options to get financial help through insurance, tax deductions, and even grants in some states.
ASecureLife’s recommendation: Whether you have a child with special needs or just need a reliable way to monitor your kid, AngelSense has all the features you could want in a child tracking device.
Best phone for kids: Relay
Relay is, in a nutshell, a screen-free walkie-talkie with a cell phone range. It gives you a way to communicate with your kid without giving them a cell phone.
Pros and cons of Relay
- Simple, easy-to-use design
- Location tracking and geofencing alerts
- Inexpensive pricing
- Sturdy and water-resistant design
- No distracting screen
- Not wearable without accessories
- Lacking in tracking features
Why we recommend Relay
Relay is an inexpensive option for a simple location tracking without the extra frills. Two-way communication is plus, especially if you’re not ready to hand your kid a cell phone.
The Relay keeps things simple and easy. By holding down the central button on the device, kids can talk to other Relay devices or to their parents’ smartphones, and their parents can talk back through the Relay app.
Relay also provides location updates and just added geofencing so you can get alerts when your kids leave a designated area. The tracking features are definitely secondary to the two-way communication and are not as robust as the AngelSense, but it’s the best option for easily chatting with your kids.
There can be a time delay between sending and receiving messages, and if you don’t have the Relay app open on your phone, you’ll just get a notification that you have a missed message. A full message history is saved in the Relay app so you can always go back and listen to the ones you missed.
The Relay is most likely too basic for a teenager to enjoy, but it’s just right for children who are too young for cell phones. It comes in five different colors, and there are a couple of fun features that will appeal to kids, like a music player. But there’s no screen to distract them for hours at a time. Plus, the Relay is small enough for little hands, protected against rough use, and water-resistant.
There are accessories that can be purchased separately that let kids wear the Relay on their wrist or hooked to a belt loop or jacket. Otherwise, the Relay just goes in a pocket or backpack.
One of the advantages of the Relay is the low cost—just $49.99, less than a regular cell phone and much less than the AngelSense. There is a $9.99 per month service charge for the cell service and a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
ASecureLife’s recommendation: With GPS tracking and walkie-talkie communication, the Relay is a fun, easy way to stay in touch with your children, no matter where they are.
Best smartwatch for kids: Verizon GizmoWatch
Verizon’s GizmoWatch is a tracking device, watch, step counter, and communication device for kids who are too young for a cell phone.
Pros and cons of Verizon GizmoWatch
- Geofencing and scheduling alerts
- Two-way calling for up to 10 contacts
- Preprogrammed text messaging
- Durable and waterproof design
- Fitness tracker
- Higher up-front and monthly costs without Verizon phone plan
- Breakable touchscreen
Why we recommend Verizon GizmoWatch
The Verizon GizmoWatch is a limited-feature smartwatch with two-way audio, location tracking, and a step counter, all designed specifically with young kids in mind. The wristband can be switched out for lots of color options, though there aren’t any other ways to wear the device.
The GizmoWatch gives parents several tracking options. You can set up geofencing and receive alerts when your kids leave the specified areas. Or you can schedule times for the watch to check your child’s location and let you know if they are where they should be (like after-school band practice).
The GizmoWatch holds up to 10 contact numbers (yours plus nine others) that your child can send voice messages and pre-programmed text messages to. You can also call the GizmoWatch from your smartphone to quickly check in on and speak directly to your child.
Additionally, there are a few fun features, like a game-like step counter that encourages your kid to exercise. And you can schedule times for the watch to be off—like during school hours—to keep distractions to a minimum.
The battery lasts four to seven days on one charge, depending on how much the device is used.
The watch is waterproof and fairly durable, though the touchscreen is breakable, so some parents recommend getting the Verizon replacement plan.
The GizmoWatch costs $179.99 without a contract or $129.99 with a two-year commitment. If you’re adding the watch to your existing Verizon phone plan, it’s just $5 per month, but the price jumps up to $15 per month without a Verizon account. There’s a one-time activation fee and a 14-day return window.
ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Verizon GizmoWatch is the perfect smartwatch for younger kids. You can easily track their location and be alerted if they aren’t where they should be, and they can call you anytime to check in.
Best small device: Jiobit
Jiobit’s small design makes it a solid tracking device for kids who have several caregivers coordinating pickups and drop-offs.
Pros and cons of Jiobit
- Cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connections
- Small, lightweight, and unobtrusive design
- Real-time GPS tracking and location history
- Geofencing and scheduled notifications
- Care Team feature
- Durable and waterproof design
- No calling or two-way audio features
- Poor battery life with live tracking
Why we recommend Jiobit
Jiobit combines GPS tracking with cell service, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity to give it an unlimited range and make sure the device always stays connected. It is small—literally the same size as an Oreo cookie—and lightweight so you can attach it easily to clothing, shoes, jackets, or backpacks. And it’s durable and waterproof enough to withstand the washing machine if you forget to remove it.
Jiobit uses real-time GPS tracking to show you where your child is. You can set up geofences and notifications in the app to know where your kids are and when they arrive in a new location. Jiobit has also added a location history feature so you can review all the places your child traveled during the day.
You can also use the Care Team feature to add other caregivers (like parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc.) and see who picked up your child from daycare or who’s with them after school—ideal for working parents and families with complicated childcare situations.
The Jiobit charges in a small docking station, and the battery lasts up to a week, depending on how much it is used. The live tracking via GPS and cell service drain the battery more quickly.
The device itself doesn’t have any color options, but there are silicone covers in multiple colors that can be purchased separately.
Jiobit does not have any calling or two-way audio features, so if talking directly to your child is important to you, you may want to consider the Relay or another of our best cell phones for kids.
The Jiobit is less expensive than some similar products (including the Trax Play) at $129.99 for the device. The monthly subscription costs are less too.
- $8.99 per month for a two-year plan
- $12.99 per month for a month-to-month plan that can be canceled anytime
- $5.99 per month for each additional device
Both plans come with a 30-day free trial so you can give the Jiobit a try before you commit.
ASecureLife’s recommendation: Joibit gives parents an unobtrusive child tracking device with an unlimited range, which is a huge step up from similarly-sized devices with a limited Bluetooth range.
Other brands we considered
Trax G+ (an updated version of Trax Play) is a 4G GPS tracking device that is similar to the Jiobit in several ways. It sends live location updates to your smartphone and alerts you if the device moves faster than a set speed, crosses a geofence boundary, or moves too far away.
It didn't make it onto our list because of the slightly higher price, shorter battery life, and lack of monthly data plan option. It's also a little trickier to attach to things as it requires separate accessories to do so. It is, however, a great option for 2G and 3G networks if you’re traveling internationally.
- Data plans for 6 months ($9/month), 12 months ($6/month), or 24 months ($4/month)
- 2G and 3G devices available
- Small and lightweight
- Augmented reality
- Track multiple Trax devices from one account
- 24–36 hour battery life
My Buddy Tag
My Buddy Tag is a Bluetooth-enabled wristband with a tracker tag that alerts you when your child goes out of Bluetooth range. This makes it ideal for crowd safety (like at the mall or an amusement park) when you are with your child but not if you want to keep tabs on your kid while they’re at school or at a friend’s house. It’s a great low-cost, simple option for parents who want to know right away if their kids wander off.
- Out-of-range alerts with adjustable range settings
- SOS button
- Alerts if it’s submerged in water for more than 10 seconds
- No monthly fees
- One year battery life
- Not easy for kids to remove
What to consider before buying
Before you put down money on a GPS tracking device for your kids, here are a few things to take into consideration.
- Age and maturity level. Carefully consider what each of your kids is ready for. Sure, your five-year-old may want the cool smartwatch, but is she mature enough not to call you 15 times an hour? Or responsible enough not to lose a Relay device?
- Primary use. The main reason for needing a GPS tracking device will change which one is right for you. Do you need a way to talk to your tween after school? Are you sharing custody of a child? Is your child prone to running away from school? Or do you just want an extra layer of security when you’re out and about together?
- Durability. All of the devices on our list are sturdy and will hold up against normal use, but if your child is particularly tough on possessions, make sure the device you choose can withstand it.
- Connectivity. Many devices rely on cell service to communicate with your smartphone, so if you live in an area with spotty cell coverage, double-check that the device will still work consistently for you.
We know that you want your children to be safe and that even after all the stranger danger and safety talks, you might still need a way to find a lost child. Having a way to check in on your kids can be absolutely invaluable to your peace of mind. Take your needs and your child’s maturity level into account, and then choose the device that will fit your family best.