Parenting is a special kind of art form, practiced since the beginning of time by mothers and fathers and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles alike. Much has changed over these countless generations, including the way we’ve come to understand the nuances of child development and general parenting. One thing that’s maintained frightening consistency throughout this progression, however, is a child’s unrelenting dedication to recklessness. Today, we have countless ways to counteract this tendency, one of the more recent being the use of safety-based mobile applications. Smartphones have come to replace Barbie dolls and action figures in the hands of young children, and app developers have successfully turned this habit into a forward-thinking catalyst for helping keep your children safe. The following list contains and outlines our top 5 apps for doing exactly that, with each representing a unique realm of mobile child safety.
1. Safety Central
Developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the leading non-profit in the fight to keep children safe, Safety Central is designed to make sure that parents have the tools they need to help them protect their families and act quickly should their children go missing.
At the core of Safety Central is a digital Child ID Kit. One of the most important tools for law enforcement when searching for a missing child is an up-to-date, good quality photo along with descriptive information. A Child ID kit is a simple yet effective way to keep those tools right at your fingertips. The app, which does not share any of your personal information, reminds you when it’s time to update your photos and allows you to store potentially life-saving information about your children in an easily accessible location.
As the importance of its utility is difficult to convey until the absolute worst occurs, Safety Central may initially come off as less flashy or relevant to your children’s day-to-day lives compared to the remaining applications. However, this is the very reason we have it ranked at the top of our list — this is an app we all wish didn’t have to exist, but since reality dictates otherwise, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has thankfully taken it upon themselves to arm parents against the possibility of a truly worst case. With Safety Central, parents and children are much more likely to end up back where they belong — with each other.
2. Life360 Family Locator
Life360 is a great app for keeping track of and staying connected with the family members of your choosing, all in real time. The Family Locator allows you to keep a constant eye on the location of your children and even maintains a daily log of the places they’ve been. Additionally, you can send personal messages and form group chats within the app — all the registered family members are shown on an interactive map in real-time and you can start a chat just by tapping on their profile. If you want to track multiple families or want to create separate groups for kids and adults, then there is also an option to create dedicated groups.
The tracking and chatting features are completely free, but if you want some additional control and features then there is a premium version as well. With Life360 Plus ($50/year) you can see tracking history from last 30 days, create location alerts, track a lost phone, get help in the emergency from real people, and even get roadside assistance.
3. Safety for Kids
Safety for Kids differs from the rest of the apps on this list in that it’s actually a children’s game, rather than a directly utilitarian application. With this being said, it’s still one of the best tools you can use to keep your children safe. Awareness is the key to safety, and this game provides exactly that. There are 12 chapters in the game which guide your children through a variety of unique activities and exercises that explain what to do in different emergency situations.
Some of the situations include fire hazards, elevator trouble, strangers at the door, getting lost, danger on the road, and more. Safety for Kids juggles these delicate themes within the confines of a colorful, well-produced, and child-friendly application that encourages children of all ages to embrace the importance as well as the feasibility of staying safe while still having fun.
4. SPIN Safe Browser
Dozens of apps exist that can help monitor your children’s internet exploration, guiding them away from the more adult corners of the web. However, most of them are chunky and complex, and in the end, provide children with more ways to disable their e-limitations than actually abide by them. Put simply, if you’re worried your children might accidentally access something inappropriate on the web, then SPIN Safe Browser is for you. It’s a wonderfully simple browser that blocks all types of inappropriate content on the web without any configuration need. The simplicity of this application is what makes it so great. If your child attempts to access an inappropriate website – either directly or through a link – it will block it, no questions asked. Some of the blocked content include adult content, drugs, alcohol, weapons, malware, phishing websites, proxy sites, gambling, and more.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that SPIN operates through a slightly altered version of the FireFox web browser, which is one of the best on the market. This way, you’re not sacrificing speed or quality of interface for the security of your children’s web browsing.
Launched in 2015, the simple-to-use app offers parents tools to keep up with the ever-changing virtual landscape kids are developing in. It analyzes every text message and post for bullying, substance misuse, suicidal ideas, depression, sexting, and more. When the software identifies a potential issue, it alerts you so you can view the flagged text, email, post, or picture. Along with each alert, Bark sends suggestions on how you can engage with your child in productive, meaningful ways based on the type of behavior that was flagged.
Bark allows parents to monitor and care for their children in a non-intrusive manner, which is incredibly important in regards to the interpersonal strain safety can have on a parent-child relationship. Many apps that specialize in child safety are inherently intrusive and involve children feeling drained by the constant presence of authority in their day-to-day lives. Thanks to its thoughtful automation, Bark quells these issues and allows parents to maximize their children’s safety without sacrificing either side’s mental and physical wellbeing.