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Parenting Tech: Let Tech Gear Make Keeping Tabs on Your Kids Easier

“It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?”

Parents worry about keeping their children safe, no matter if their kids are in the pack-n-play or packing up for college. Parenting isn’t easy, but technology can make it easier. Thanks to GPS technology and a slew of innovative products, keeping track of your children has become a lot easier. Here’s a look at just some of the child-tracking products available today:

Video Monitors - Now Online

Whether in the next room, or miles away, parents can be in the same virtual space as their little ones. Video monitors have replaced traditional audio-only baby monitors as the best way to hear and watch your newborn or infant sleep in another room. Products like the MobiCamAV give you a wireless camera and handheld video monitor to let you know what’s happening in the baby’s room. And no more jumping up from dinner on “date night” to call home; an add-on kit lets parents stream the live feed over the Internet to a PC or smartphone. If mom or dad wants a custom video monitoring solution to include multiple areas of the home, Xanboo’s line of residential wireless cameras may be the ticket.

Child Locators

According to a U.S. Department of Justice study, more than 2,000 kids get “lost” every day, and more than 100 children are kidnapped each year. Thanks to GPS technology, parents can now track their children’s movements using small, inexpensive locator devices. Child trackers, like Insignia’s Little Buddy and Lok8u’s NuM8 wrist watch, let you monitor their movements, alert you when they arrive home or at school and even notify you when they wander outside of boundaries you’ve set. These types of devices, most of which require a monthly fee, let you check your child’s location in real time using a PC or smartphone.

If your child already carries a cell phone, you may have another option for staying aware of where they are. Some wireless phone carriers offer real-time tracking using a child’s GPS-enabled phone. Verizon and Sprint, for example, both offer such family locator services for a minimal monthly charge.

Monitoring Teen Drivers

Technology can’t replace communication with your teen about safe driving and making smart decisions, but it can help both of you stay on track. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths, says the CDC. You might think there is no way for you to know if a child is driving too fast or not wearing a seat belt. Technology for monitoring your teen driver ranges from discrete GPS tracking to a full-fledged, airplane-like black box that alerts you and your teen when he’s driving unsafely.

Passive tracking devices from companies like accutracking, Youth Driving Safe and Brickhouse Security provide real-time vehicle tracking from any Web browser. You might also consider an active in-car monitoring device to serve as a virtual chaperone for your teen driver. Such systems audibly alert her when she’s not wearing her seatbelt, speeding, accelerating too quickly, etc. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that such active systems actually make teens safer drivers.

These are just some of the many products and technologies available to help parents keep their kids safer.

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