Trick-Or-Treating Goes High-Tech With Tracking Apps

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Kids and teens may be a bit spooked to know apps can track their movements. For parents though, the technology offers a way to keep tabs on kids wherever they go – including on Halloween night.

Smartphones with GPS features are making it easier than ever to share location data and a range of apps are now available to making tracking simple.

Many of the apps are free, like Lookout. The app for Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone is intended to find a lost device but doubles as a “kid tracker.” Just download the app onto your child’s phone then log-in online to see the phone’s location.

Footprints for Apple devices, offers parents customized location tracking, with a password system to keep a crafty kid from removing it. There’s a free trial but after that you’ll have to pay on a subscription basis.

There’s even an app specifically for trick-or-treating. Trick or Tracker is only for Android phones and costs $4.99. The app lets parents create a digital fence and if kids step outside it, parents get an alert. Children can also check-in on parents with a “Where’s my parent?” button.

WHNT News 19 checked in with Huntsville’s police force to see how these new apps might improve child safety. Department spokesman Harry Hobbs said HPD won’t officially endorse these apps but as a grandfather with his own little trick-or-treater, he can see the value in them.

“I probably would be with her but if for some reason she went out with another adult then I would use every piece of technology at my disposal to ensure that she was safe,” Hobbs said.

Like Hobbs, most parents will want to go with their kids Halloween night. Many who can’t go will put a teenager or trusted adult in charge. Given those realities, parents may find tracking apps most useful throughout the year – to help them keep tabs on kids at school, on the town or visiting friends.

On Halloween night, police encourage parents to stay vigilant. The old rules – visible costumes, flashlights and good communication – all still apply.

“You`ve always got to have a backup. You cannot just rely on technology,” Hobbs emphasized.