Apps empower parents with tools for child safety

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) – Technology is constantly evolving and changing the way we do things. It’s also changing how parents keep their children safe.

Jolene Headley’s 4-year-old son, Cole, is her everything.

“He means the world to me,” she said. “He’s the most important thing in my life.”

Headley and her husband makes sure Cole knows what to do if he ever finds himself in a dangerous situation.

“We’ve done scenarios where a stranger comes up and wants Cole to go with him somewhere. Or what if a stranger actually comes and picks him up and takes off with him? What he should do. What he should say,” Headley said.

Now, Headley is also turning to her smartphone for security. The Bloomington mother recently downloaded the FBI Child ID mobile app.

“It’s good because it has all of the vital information, and you can upload the photos of your child so that if they would happen to go missing then you’d have those right there handy, ready to hand over to the police,” she said.

Capt. Joe Qualters with the Bloomington Police Department said it’s a modern take to something police agencies have done for years.

“That seems to simply replace what many police department did for years in the form of Identikits,” he said.

Headley said she and her husband have a tangible Identikit for Cole, but she prefers to also have the information stored digitally and at her fingertips in case something happens.

“I think it’s definitely a useful tool, mainly because almost everyone has their phone with them all of the time,” she said.

Cell phones now allow parents to see where their kids are and what they’re doing. The mobile application MamaBear Family Security calls itself the “ultimate parenting app.” It allows parents to see their child’s location, keep an eye on their social media accounts, and even know when their teenage driver is speeding on the roadways.

“With conversations with other parents, part of the discussion was, ‘Wow! I’m spending a lot of time trying to make sure my kids are safe on social media,’ and we were working on some location technology and decided to bundle in some of these features that would provide parents a little bit of peace of mind in the digital space that their children are in every day,” MamaBear co-founder Roby Spoto said.

Spoto said MamaBear was recently updated to allow parents to monitor their child’s text messages.

“Parents can set a bucket of words that they want to know about. So instead of monitoring absolutely everything, parent have the chance to say, ‘These are the list of words I want to know about. Tell me when they are being said or said to my family,’” Spoto said.

MamaBear is a free install on iOS and Android. For a premium upgrade of about $5 per month, you can get additional services including a location history for the past seven days.

Click here to see a list of 13 apps aimed at keeping your family safe. Some of the apps are free to download but may require a fee for certain features.