I need a google map for my 4 year old
March 7, 2011 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Kid GPS - for a 4 year old. Suggestions?

Changes at home mean my 4 year old is going to be riding a school district bus from his Montessori to his Speech class 2 times a week and I'm terrified!

The best I can come up with is that we get him kid friendly GPS type unit to settle our nerves - does anyone have any suggestions for a GPS unit my son can keep with him so, at the very least, we can see where he is?

As far as him and technology go he's had an iPod touch since he was 3, been using our iPhones just as long, and the same goes for our iPad.

So all in all, I need a way to keep tabs on the boy (something that's also hard to lose?) and it would be great if it also had security features if he ever needed it. Thanks!
posted by doorsfan to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you let him take his ipod to school you can just switch it with an iphone and set up google latitude.
posted by drethelin at 9:14 AM on March 7, 2011

I've heard of personal tracking devices for kids with Autism or the elderly with dementia. They basically look like watches, a quick Google search brought this up.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:23 AM on March 7, 2011

I'm guessing someone at Montessori puts him on the bus (trusted person) and that when he arrives at speech therapy, there is also a trusted person there. Is there any way to set it up so the speech therapy place will text you when he gets there?

Otherwise, there seem to be a lot of devices out there like this.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:24 AM on March 7, 2011

I think more important than a technological solution is to teach him what to do if he gets lost on a field trip or otherwise ends up somewhere other than speech class or the school. Millions and millions of 4 year olds have taken a bus from point A to point B every week without incident. I started kindergarten at age 4 in a foreign country and was taking a bus to school every day. And this was before cell phones were invented, and we were in a country that wasn't completely friendly to the US in the early 70s. Contrary to what Dateline NBC wants us to believe, kid are not getting snatched off the streets every day in the US. If something bad happens to him it's much more likely to be an auto accident in the bus than him getting separated from the group. And him getting separated is not a catastrophe if he knows what to do.

The GPS is not going to provide as much peace of mind as knowing that your child knows what to do if he is lost or into some sort of trouble.
posted by COD at 9:34 AM on March 7, 2011 [13 favorites]

I agree with COD. Also, have you checked with the school's policies regarding sending kids to school with tech devices? It may no be allowed.

Starting in grade 3--I know, that's a lot older than someone your son's age, but maybe this can help--I took the school bus 4 days a week and used public transit 1 day to another school. I was pretty over-protected, so I'd never taken the public transit alone before. To help with the transition (and with her peace of mind), my mom took me on practice runs. We went on the route I would be taking--both to and from the school, which involved a transfer and was about an hour's commute--a few times before I started that school year.

Maybe you can do something like that with your son. Do a few practice runs at first (would you be allowed to be on the bus with him, or is that weird?) and teach him what to do i.e., COD's response.
posted by methroach at 9:58 AM on March 7, 2011

I've had this exact same thought, so don't feel weird about it.

What I decided was, the issue isn't "where's the kid?" The issue is "what's being done to the kid and by whom?"

The GPS will tell you where the GPS is, within several yards. Well, what happens if the backpack is lost with the GPS in it? And several yards? You can run into the middle of a busy street and the GPS will never know the difference. And the GPS isn't stopping anyone from running into the busy street.

Get to know your school bus driver(s). Get to know the intimate details of the process -- how does he get on, get off, where does he go, etc, etc. Walk through this process, step-by-step, with the person responsible. Follow the bus, in your own car, the first time.

Once you know all of this, you will feel much better.

I discovered that my school bus driver had spent 20 years in the Marines, followed by 20 years as a paramedic for the Seattle Fire Department. In other words, I would have had a really hard time finding a better human being to drive a school bus.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:02 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

The GPS will tell you where the GPS is

Actually, the GPS will tell HIM where the GPS is. What you want is some sort of tracking device that can transmit its location back to you.

(But, really, COD nailed it on the head. All the other kids on the bus seem to be doing just fine.)
posted by schmod at 11:11 AM on March 7, 2011

Wired Magazine has a section on this exact thing this month. I think it's this month. It's the edition with the cover talking about iPod manufacturer suicides. It's their fetish section....I think...talking about tracking GPS's viewable remotely.
posted by TomMelee at 11:30 AM on March 7, 2011

Actually, the GPS will tell HIM where the GPS is.

My point was that GPS != the kid's location. It is the GPS's location. The two can become separated.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:37 AM on March 7, 2011

Do you think the bus is going to get lost on the way to his speech class or something? I can only imagine a 4 year old losing or breaking a GPS within a week anyway (or perpetually letting the battery die), or being made fun of by the other kids for wearing a digital leash.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:27 PM on March 7, 2011

Tennis shoe GPS.
posted by raisingsand at 6:04 PM on March 7, 2011

I'm looking for the same thing; if you find something that works, I'd appreciate an update.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2011

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