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Security & privacy

How Find My Friends helped a mom save her daughter’s life

So your kids are giving you a hard time about tracking their smartphones. Well, just tell them this story about a North Carolina mother and daughter. It may make them think twice before complaining again.

Parents have been making use of a variety of smartphone apps to keep track of their kids’ whereabouts. Some kids accept it as the price for limited freedom. Others see it as an invasion of privacy.

One of those apps, iPhone’s Find My Friends, helped a mother track down her daughter who was trapped under her car following an accident. Here’s how Find My Friends saved her life and we’ll show you other tracking apps you can use to keep your kids — and even yourself — safe.

iPhone app helps save teen’s life

After 17-year-old Macy Smith missed curfew and was not answering text messages or calls, her mother, Catrina Cramer Alexander of Mount Airy, North Carolina, resorted to using Find My Friends.

The GPS app showed that her daughter had been in one location for hours. Alexander jumped into her call and drove to where the app directed her. That’s when she saw the tire tracks.

Smith had gone off the road and down a 25-foot embankment, flipping her car three times. She ended up with her arm trapped between her car and the ground. Smith had been pinned down for more than six hours.

Soon after her mother found her, paramedics arrived and rescued Smith, who suffered a fractured neck and severe damage to her left arm.

The family went public with their story in hopes of encouraging other parents and their children to stay safe by using apps similar to Find My Friends.

Use these apps and sign a contract with your kids

Let’s face it; it’s easier to track your younger children’s smartphones than your teens. Tech-savvy teens can find ways around tracking apps unless you buy pricy ones that you can hide in their phones.

Perhaps the best solution for all is to come to an agreement about monitoring online activity and GPS tracking. Kim Komando offers this Tech Safety Contract that puts everyone in the family on the same page.

As far as tracking apps, here are a few you might consider using:

FamilyTime gives you a daily activity report with your child’s location history and phone usage. If there are certain places you don’t want your kids to go to, you can set up geofences to exclude questionable locations and get instant alerts when those borders are breached. You also get SOS and panic alerts from your kids. The app is available for iPhone and Android and you can find installation instructions here.

Life360 Family & Friend Locator lets you set up Place Alerts that will inform you whenever someone gets to a specific location. With the free version of the app, you can assign two places for alerts and see the location history for two days. There are multiple paid versions that provide even more features, such as the real-time location of friends and family on a private map. The app is available for both iPhone and Android.

Phone Tracker from Spy Phone Labs provides you with detailed information about any phone or tablet you put it on. It uses GPS to track the phone’s location, gives you a full log of all calls sent and received, and even shows you text messages and web activity. This information is available online after you create a free account. The app is available in Google Play and iTunes.

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