Many people have had the fear of losing their child in a busy place or perhaps having their child kidnapped. What type of technology can I use to locate my child if they get lost or kidnapped? I'm not necessarily looking for a specific product, but rather a summary and comparison of the types of tracking products that can be used.

The factors that I would consider important are safety, cost, practicality for children ranging from infant age until 6-7 years old, and ease of use for the parent.

Update: I took out 'GPS' from the title to make the question more generic.

Update 2: Another factor that is important is concealability. How easy can the device be hidden on the child without others knowing about it (perhaps including the child themselves).

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    The only "device" I needed for my daughter at that age was me. She was always around me or someone I trusted to never let her out of reach or a protected zone (like a fenced-in yard). Edit: Just noticed the age of this question... oops! Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 4:30
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    No, "we" haven't "all had the fear" -- your kids are considerably more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to be kidnapped by strangers. Worry about a real risk instead, like car accidents or drowning. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 3:28
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    @jpatokal - Maybe where you live, but kidnapping and human trafficking are very serious issues in countries like Mexico, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Lebanon. And the statistics you read are unreliable because in many of these countries, the large majority of cases go unreported. Regardless, I don't buy in to your zero-probability fallacy. If there is a low-cost, safe, and easy way to track my kids in the case of an emergency, why would I not utilize it? I didn't know if there was such a way, hence the question.
    – J.J.
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 16:19
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    You should be asking about your problem, not an artificially-enlarged problem that maybe someone else has. Other places might have more child kidnapping, but maybe they also have laws against lojacking your kid. "Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do."
    – mxyzplk
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 22:08
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    @mxyzplk - I think it's quite presumptuous of you to insinuate that this problem doesn't apply to me. It is a real problem I'm concerned with. I've had the fear of losing one of my children or having them kidnapped. I want to know if there are any technologies out there for tracking them. In addition I think it's an issue that is very important for many other parents.
    – J.J.
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 22:16

8 Answers 8

  • Someone with malicious intent will remove/destroy/jam the device.
  • Someone with good intent will make sure it is working properly.

Thus, doing something like that gives bad guys the ability to track your child's movements when they are safe, meanwhile you aren't likely to have recourse if they are taken.

It seems like a net loss in security to me.

That said, if you must get such a device, make it a cell phone. GPS tracking, triangulation by tower reception in the absence of a satellite fix, connection (from which to transmit location) anywhere there is a cell tower, and the ability to call out in an emergency.

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    @Pearsonartphoto: They're familiar enough with those short-range locators, and the hospital anti-theft devices to remove them... you don't think the same would happen within a short time after a different device became even semi-common?
    – HedgeMage
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 4:02
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    I agree: bad guys will known these devices and disable them. Good guys will more likely not know them, and would simply contact the relevant authorities regardless whether a device is used or not. Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 5:21
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    If the device is concealed (a watch, shoes, sub-dermal) and only used by a small portion of the population, I don't think it would be an issue. Issues may arise where "bad guys" become aware of these technologies if the devices become pervasive.
    – J.J.
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 13:04
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    A whistle - keep it simple.
    – nGinius
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 13:27
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    @Javid: sub-dermal -- Please tell me you are kidding? I don't want any tracking device on my child that can't be easily removed. There are too many ways they can be abused.
    – HedgeMage
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 18:30

Such devices already exist, though mainly to locate and recover stolen cars. They're about the size of a cell phone and work by a combination of GPS and cell triangulation.

Look for "carfinder." In Austria, the local automobile club offer these ad rentals if you're driving to Eastern countries:

Also, here's an English link to the manufacturer:


I've been thinking about such a device for years now, but there are still many practical problems that prevent me from designing it. It needs to be:

  • small enough to be concealed
  • large enough that it isn't easily lost even when the battery is dead
  • long lasting - at least 16 hours to a single charge, but ideally 72+ hours
  • easy to recharge
  • functional indoors, inside vehicles, basements, parking garages
  • waterproof, washable
  • useful and fun for the child so they don't lose it
  • secure, with encryption so only the parents can track (ideally so not even the company can get the location data, nevermind attackers)
  • inexpensive both in initial cost and recurring cost
  • simple to use

Right now most solutions on the market fail in most of the above ways, but creating a device that meets all these objectives may not be possible. Hopefully this list provides you with some guidance on what to compare across the available devices.


The best possible device that can keep an eye on our kids is us only. We need to be very conscious about where they are moving and what they intend to do since no device in the world can take our position to know the whereabouts of our children.

  • That's not an answer to the question.
    – Gruber
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 6:31
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    "None" is a perfectly valid answer.
    – arved
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 10:02
  • "None" is not a good answer when the question is 'what technology options exist' and there are actually technology options that exist.
    – J.J.
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 3:16
  • The question was "what is practical". None is legitimate.
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 21:46
  • No, it isn't generally good practice to answer outside the constraints of the question.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 21:52

As technology improves, so do possible answers to questions like this.

New products are on the market that allow you to have Bluetooth tracking via a sticker.

The first "Bluetooth tracking sticker" that comes up on a Google search at this time is StickNFind.


  • It's about the size of a watch battery (which is the kind of battery it uses).
  • The battery lasts up to a year.
  • It has about 100 ft line of sight range.
  • You can use the product's app to track the device when in range, or use the app to get notified when the sticker is out of your desired range.
  • It's currently $50 USD for a 2 pack.


  • It only has 100 ft line of sight range, which might reduce it's effectiveness for older children that are allowed to roam more.
  • It requires a smartphone, or certain tablets.
  • You need to have the app, and Bluetooth, running on your smartphone, reducing your device's battery life.
  • Children lose small things, so you have to find a way to "secure" it to them.

Because the device is so small, it can easily be tucked into a child's pocket or hidden beneath their watch (or some other jewelry with a large face). If desired, it wouldn't be difficult to sew special patches into younger children's clothes to keep the item from falling out. Personally, I'd go for making a pendant they could comfortably wear around their neck and under their shirt, and design it to disguise the device.

I'm a heavy reader of tech-related news, and when I heard about products like this my first thought was to tracking children, not objects. Normally, our son is never far enough away from one of us that we fear for his safety, let alone fear him being abducted. However, if we were to ever take him on a family trip to somewhere crowded (especially if we we going on the trip with others), then something like this could definitely provide peace of mind. It takes half a second for a young one to run off. When you're in a big crowd, and you have other friends and family with you, you're going to get distracted for half a second at some point. While most times your child will be perfectly fine, there's a wide variety of things that can happen between losing and finding a child, not just abduction.

I would add, though, that this suggestion, like the others, is more about easing the parents' worries than increasing the safety of the child.


Features I would look at:

  1. Small and discreet, toy looking watch or some small zippo-lighter sized device
  2. Obviously battery operated, and at least 24 hr backup
  3. Connects to cell network, preferably CDMA or WCDMA network, this mean you will need a monthly subscription
  4. If in US, the device should meet E911 spec (No dependence on GPS)
  5. The device should be tough for kids to remove (if under 4 yrs old)
  6. Good security, i.e. only parents can track it
  7. Preferable that its sealed (i.e. no SIM slot or Battery cover) and water proof
  8. Reasonable device cost and monthly fee

If I were to get such a device, it would have the following characteristics:

  1. It should be useful for something else.
  2. It should look like another device, maybe a watch, stopwatch, jewelry, etc.
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    Please write this as a comment, not an answer.
    – J.J.
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 12:56
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    I think it's a useful answer. Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 13:16

When we were at a festival with large but not particularly dense crowds, I just tied a three metre long piece of paracord to my wrist and my three-year-old's clothing. She could wander a little way, but can't get lost, and preferred being able to run about a bit to having to hold hands all the time.

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