Picture this: you’re in a busy museum, solo-parenting, with your two young children. The baby is in the carrier because he’s too fussy to be in the stroller and your older toddler sprints off to check out an exhibit. Between nursing the baby on a bench and constantly scanning the room keeping tabs on your other child, you bend down to pick up a dropped toy. Just as you get yourself settled and your stroller packed up to head to the next exhibit, a giant group of schoolchildren on a field trip walks into the room. All the sudden, your three year old is lost in a sea of other screaming children. You try to stay calm, but it’s too loud to shout your child’s name and you can feel your heartbeat quickening in your ears as you do a lap around the room.
Luckily, I found him within minutes; he had wandered into the adjoining exhibit room equally spooked that he suddenly lost sight of me as I did him. This was the day I decided to act on my earlier impulse of researching tracking devices for children. I know, I know, statistically crime has decreased. But our almost unlimited access to all sorts of information so readily available at our fingertips somehow makes us parents feel like the world isn’t so safe. I refuse to live in a bubble of fear, but I also honestly struggle with giving my son the same sense of freedom I experienced as a child. I so desperately want that free-spirited childhood for him! Enter: the PocketFinder+.
The founding president was a wireless engineer named Joe. His son was a teenager at the time who just got his drivers license. One Friday night, he wasn’t home by curfew and neither he nor his friends were answering their phones. After an hour or two of worrying, Joe decided he should be able to know where his kid was at any given time to ensure his safety and wellbeing. (Spoiler: He ended up being in a movie theatre with his cell phone silenced!) This spurred the creation of the PocketFinder, much like my similar incident motivating me to start looking into such devices. This sort of product is SO applicable to traveling families, both at home and whilst abroad! It’s use extends far longer than when your trip ends.
Using The Device
Once I received my PocketFinder+, I charged it up, created an account on their site and read over the information on the box. I also downloaded the accompanying app on my phone. I’m quite technically-challenged and it was a breeze to set-up and use immediately. Ideas for creating location zones include your house, your neighborhood, your child’s school, etc. I created a zone for our home and one for preschool. We live in an urban area and I’d love for my child to be able to run around our yard freely without the (perhaps illogical) stress of him being nabbed or unlatching the fence and running off. (I threaded the key ring through a belt loop on his jeans so it couldn’t be quickly removed and tossed.) You can also quickly create zones on-the-go for those days when we’re at the always-busy children’s museum or zoo. Our next big trip isn’t until the springtime; for now, this lets my busy toddler be more of an individual when we’re out exploring our own city–safely within view, of course, but not being overly coddled or feeling like I have to police him.
You pay $12.95/month for the GPS service, app, notifications, and essentially everything that the PocketFinder Plus is! You save money by pre-paying for 6 months or 1 year of service. You don’t have to activate the device until after you purchase and receive it. If you’re having a big gap in travels or usage, you can easily suspend your service and just pay $1/month to keep the SIM active. I was quick to notice how customer-focused they are; this is huge to me.
During your travels, you can have peace of mind that your kids don’t wander off or get lost. When in use, the app has a blue directional icon to show exactly where you are in relation to your device on a map. (This is so helpful in more remote areas that are more challenging to navigate.) If you split up to do different activities, you can easily create a zone to set a meet-up point, see each others whereabouts on the map, or even make sure your kids are safely in their hotel room with the babysitter. Having a PocketFinder with every nanny while on holiday allows you to know where your child is at all times! For big family trips with relatives, customer service can set-up agreements to share family devices (like with your sister or mother) on a master account. When the trip is over, they can then split your devices again.
The device always tries to connect to GPS first. But, if you’re in a dense urban area with tall buildings or inside a building that’s blocking GPS signal, it will go to Google WiFi touch as a backup. It sees where other people’s WiFi locations are and can determine the location from triangulating those.
If something unexpected occurred and your child suddenly couldn’t be found, you would be able to give authorities the exact direction and area s/he was headed by viewing their tracker on your phone. Each device has a SIM card to send precise location info. I absolutely cannot put a price on the piece of mind this gives me.
At home, you can ensure they get safely carpooled/bussed/walked to school and back. If your younger child attends daycare or preschool, you can check in on them on those days they might be having a field trip. If you’re away at work, you can schedule to get notifications that they just left school, realize accidents like stepping onto the incorrect bus as they’d be heading in the wrong direction, set up specific zones to alert you if your child gets X number of feet away from home or school, etc. This device is also routinely used in shared custody situations where different caretakers are in the picture and pick-up responsibilities can sometimes get mixed-up.
-Push notifications are now available in the app
-You can create sub accounts for different users to view which tracker you want
-If you have multiple children, you can personalize the identification of each tracker by renaming it and uploading a photo.
-The silver button on the device acts as an SOS. It’s no harm if your kiddo presses it, but pressing 3x and it will turn solid red and send location info to your phone every 10 seconds for 3 minutes. I was worried about my son pressing it! But it’s not always an emergency and can function just like logistics update if your child is supposed to check in with you or meet back at a certain checkpoint.
-YOU are in control! The PocketFinder+ uses military-grade privacy technology and you don’t deal with any call centers.
-The next Android update will include an Instant Zone button. No need to know the address of your location, you can create an Instant Zone around whatever big park or giant museum you’re at in that moment. (The iPhone app already has this feature!)
Where to Purchase
The PocketFinder+ is available for sale online. Our readers have been offered a special promotional discount code: BEBE30!
Bébé Voyage received a PocketFinder+ and free service in exchange for this review. All opinions are our own.