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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Trick, treat…and track!

Halloween is always a bitter sweet time for parents. We love to see our kids dress up and have fun, but we’re not so keen on letting them wander the streets, knocking on strangers’ doors.

But now, thanks to GPS technology, there’s a way to keep an eye on them.

Most people are familiar with GPS technology as a navigation tool. If we are in a car or on foot, we can use GPS to pinpoint our location and provide turn-by-turn directions to our destination. Well, that same technology can be used to exactly locate a cell phone. Install the right application, give your trick or treating youngsters the right phones, and you can check on their whereabouts any time!

Subscription-based GPS tracking solutions are available from all the major carriers. If you have a smartphone, you can also download various apps that will do the same job for free.

Here are some of the best available options:

Family Locator from Verizon

Formerly known as Chaperone, Family Locator helps determine the location of your family members’ cell phones by providing an approximate address and pinpointing them on a map. Phones can be tracked on the Family Locator web site or on the Family Locator Mobile app.

By adding VZ Navigator, you can even monitor turn-by-turn directions, or set notifications for when a phone arrives or leaves a particular location.

To use Family Locator, you need a Verizon Family SharePlan account and at least two lines. Family Locator costs $9.99 per “Locatee” line. There is no charge for the Locator line.

FamilyMap from AT&T

FamilyMap is similar to Family Locator. You will be able to locate any cell phone on AT&T’s network using a PC or a web-enabled phone. Again, you can set up notifications to automatically get location information sent to you via text message or e-mail.

Although you can locate any AT&T phone, FamilyMap works best with a GPS-enabled smartphone.

FamilyMap costs $9.99 per month to locate up to two family members or $14.99 per month to locate up to five family members. The first 30 days are free and you can cancel at any time.

Google Latitude

If you and your family members have Google accounts, then you can use a location-based social networking tool called Google Latitude. Latitude is a feature on Google Maps that allows you see where your friends and family are at any given time. To share locations, you send an invite to a family member or accept an invite if you receive one.

Both parties sharing locations will need phones with web access, or you can locate someone using a computer and the iGoogle application. Various privacy features allow you to turn off or modify the application at any time.


If your child has a smartphone, then you can use a free application called Glympse to share the location of that smartphone for a specific period of time. Once the application is downloaded, the smartphone holder can send a “Glympse” to another phone or a computer so the movements of that original smartphone can be tracked.

The good thing about Glympse is that it is entirely web-based for the monitoring party – they just click on a link and they can see a detailed map of the smartphone’s movements. Plus, you can turn off the Glympse at any time, which is ideal if you are just lending your child a smartphone for the evening.

Glympse is available for the iPhone, Android phones, Windows Phones and BlackBerrys.

All these solutions can provide parents with much-needed peace of mind – and not just for Halloween. You can check whether your child is on the school bus, whether she made it to soccer practice, or whether he’s having a play date where he said he was. But be careful – tracking your child’s whereabouts can become addictive!

Can you recommend other child-monitoring solutions for Halloween? Share them with The Online Mom! 

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