Five Tech-Savvy Techniques to Keep Kids Safe this Halloween
Oct. 11, 2017 at midnight
With Halloween just around the corner, kids are getting their costumes ready and enthusiastically preparing for trick-or-treating. However, we do want to know they’re safe, even as we help them have their fun, get scared, and explore the neighborhood. While razor blades and poisoned apples may be myths, children are in danger of being hit by cars or getting lost or injured. And, once kids get old enough, they want to leave their parents behind and go door-to-door by themselves. Nevertheless, we can still keep our children safe even when we’re not with them.
Today, smartphones and apps are doing more than keeping us in touch with our kids. They’re also helping to protect our children when they’re out there trick-or-treating without us. There are also lights and reflective devices that are making children more visible. This Halloween, look for these new apps (and other tech gadgets) that are improving our children’s safety while letting them feel unconstrained.
1. Make cellphones smart: If your child has a cellphone, make sure that it’s as ready for Halloween as his costume is. First, parents should make sure that the phone is fully charged (and powered up), with their contact and other emergency numbers easily accessible. Also, they should make sure that their child knows how to dial 911 to contact the police. For parents, both Android and iOS have a phone tracking system built into the phones. With iPhone, Find My iPhone lets owners track their phones through laptops or other devices. With Android phones, Find My Device will allow users to locate their devices. Finally, kids should know that all phones are also flashlights, although parents should also point out that keeping the light on can drain the battery quickly.
2. Get safety apps: Over the past couple of years, an array of new safety apps have appeared that let parents track their children’s cellphones. There are a lot of third-party apps that let parents locate children’s cellphones, real-time trackers, panic buttons, and alerts. The RedPanicButton app can send emergency contacts and GPS coordinates with one touch, while apps such as Life360 can give parents a real-time map of where their kids are.
3. Keep children visible: Today, lights aren’t only glowsticks; they can be amazing costume accessories or even part of the bag. LEDs are safe and fun ways to make sure that kids stay lit. Costumes can include lit-up lightsabers or wearable armbands and other jewelry. Similarly, blinkee.com offers a light up trick-or-treat bag that makes children more visible to vehicles. Importantly, children with bicycles should have standard, powerful lights attached that cars can see. The newer bike lights can be almost as powerful as a car’s headlight, and a flashing rear light lets drivers know where a bike is.
4. Map the route: One great strategy is to know the route beforehand and give children electronic access to that map. NextDoor Treat Map, for example, is a local social network that homes can sign up with to let kids know that they have treats. NextDoor gives neighborhoods a private environment through which they can see whose virtual “porch lights” are still on. With the treat map, kids have a map of safe, signed-in houses. If a neighborhood has a local Facebook page, parents and kids may also want to check that out to find any important information.
5. Try an electronic tag: Parents with smaller children don’t want to lose them in a crowd. Giving these kids wristbands or other alert devices can let parents know when their child has run off or is lost. With the Bluetooth-enabled My Buddy Tag, parents can know if their child goes outside a certain range, immerses the device in water, or even becomes scared. My Buddy Tag also has a "last seen location" locator that map the path of the child.