Ever wish you could know where your child is, all the time? Using GPS in real time,, this app helps you keep track of and automatically locate where your child goes with his phone. If he's traveling alone, you can confirm that he arrived at a specific destination, or if he's meeting up with friends, they can confirm each other's locations. Location info is never shared with anyone else beyond those who have permission to see it, and data is saved for later review. Even though the app is free, parents will need to purchase a subscription for the tracking feature. (Free to download, service requires a monthly fee; iPhone, iPad)
Created by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, this app lets parents store their children's photos plus other identification (height, weight, hair and eye color, age) for quick access if a child ever goes missing. The information is stored on the iPhone only until parents need to send it to authorities. Notable features include safety tips, checklists for what to do if something happens to your child, and shortcuts to dial 911 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Parents also have the ability to email info immediately to law enforcement agencies if the unthinkable occurs. (Free; iPhone, iPad)
ICE stands for "In Case of Emergency," and this app allows parents to store important health data -- allergies, prescriptions, and medical conditions such as diabetes -- for an unlimited amount of family and friends. You can enter information about each person's doctor and hospital affiliation, health insurance, and even attorney contacts. The idea is to put all the data you need access to in one easy-to-find place. A free version called ICE iEmergency LITE is also available, but it allows parents to store only three profiles with limited information. ($2.99; iPhone, iPad)
Don't just track the kids; track the whereabouts of the entire family! This app keeps tabs on anyone you like, but only if the other person accepts the one-time tracking request. The app uses a built-in messaging system, separate from standard text messaging, that allows you to contact family members and receive notifications that they read your messages. You even have the capability to get your kid's attention by setting the device to "play a loud, annoying siren." For each device you wish to track, you'll need to buy the app separately. An optional subscription service is available for you to view and export GPS data from previous days. ($5.99; iPhone, iPad, Android)
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If you just moved to a new neighborhood, or are planning to, you can research any neighborhood with this app. Simply activate your smartphone's GPS and connect to the National Sex Offender Registry to locate registered sex offenders and predators in the area. You can search by name, address, and zip code, and results will be displayed on an interactive map. Click on a location for more details, such as pictures, names, addresses, and a list of offenses. ($1.99; iPhone, iPad, Android)
Whether or not your little one has a known food allergy, this app allows you to search for various unhealthy food additives. The free version contains information about 50 nasty additives, but a full app version with a list of 450-plus additives is available for $3.99. The list of additives can be sorted by name, risk level, symptoms, and diet (for example, gluten-free). The database is stored on your phone for easy access, even when you can't go online. (Free; iPhone, iPad)
Touted as the "next generation baby monitor" from Engadget, this camera/video app allows you to keep tabs on your baby's crib. Other features include password-protected audio and video, audio alerts, and infrared night mode, but only specific cameras (mostly Y-Cam and WiFi Baby) are compatible with this app. Check WiFiBaby.com and SunshineApps.com before purchasing Baby Monitor HD to make sure you have the correct combination of hardware and software. After purchase, Engadget.com has detailed setup instructions. ($9.99; iPhone, iPad; works only with specific cameras)
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This app, which has been featured on Today, CNN, and Good Morning America, allows you to watch live video feeds from any room in your home with a mobile device. To be monitored, each room needs to have constantly running computers with webcams and the app's compatible software installed. The app developer's website has full instructions (skjm.com/icam/support.php) and a very short list of cameras that are not supported. You can make a donation via in-app purchasing to help reduce the company's server costs. ($4.99; iPhone, iPad, Android)
Get real security with a complete system that includes mobile monitoring. Arm/disarm the system remotely, turn light sources on/off, and watch live and recorded video through installed cameras. Parents can get alerts about a variety of household happenings -- when the children get home from school, when someone is poking around the medicine or liquor cabinet, or when someone has changed the thermostat or left the garage door open. A subscription is required for a specific Alarm.com home monitoring service and the app works only with certain hardware. Pricing varies, depending on the specific services you are interested in, but you can purchase Alarm.com products and services just through certain retailers because the company does not sell directly to the general public. Check the Alarm.com website for details. (Free to download, service requires Alarm.com subscription; iPhone, iPad, Android)
There are apps that locate your children, but how about one that tells you how fast they're driving? This app can do so by using the smartphone's built-in GPS. Plus, the SecuraFences feature sends notifications if your child goes beyond a designated geographic area. Parents can view 90 days' worth of map data using what the company website (www.securafone.com) calls a "breadcrumb trail" and access reports that include addresses and a history of all the alerts sent by the app. All this is done in the background of your smartphone via GPS, but a monthly subscription ($8.95) is required. (Free to download, service requires monthly subscription; iPhone, Android)
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2015.
Brett Singer is a father of two and the founder of DaddyTips.com. He has written about parenting for AOL ParentDish, Time Out New York Kids, and MommyPoppins.com. He currently contributes regularly to Snakkle.com and ForbesWoman.