Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best GPS trackers for kids with real-time location tracking

Gain peace of mind no matter where your children are. If you're doing some shopping for them, we rounded up the best GPS devices and trackers for kids that offer real-time tracking, alerts, and more.

Kids manage to wander off no matter how much we keep an eye on them. Whether you're at the grocery store, park, or trick-or-treating, a GPS tracker can help you keep tabs on your child's location. With this technology, you can find peace of mind when it comes to your child's safety.

Also: Need gift ideas for kids? We found 12 fun toys they'll love

GPS trackers and devices for kids are made to have long-lasting batteries and portable designs, so you can slip or clip them into your child's backpack or coat pocket. These trackers feature advanced GPS location technology that sends you smartphone notifications about your child's location. 

While there are many different options on the market, we've rounded up the best GPS trackers and devices for kids -- so you can protect your child while they're out and about. 


Pros & Cons
  • Real-time tracking
  • Designed specifically for kids
  • Monthly subscription fee
More Details

Tech specs: Price: $129 | Battery life: One week | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $8.99 to $16.99 per month | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Cellular, GPS 

Jiobit's Smart Tag is our pick for the best GPS tracker for kids. It's a small tracking device that clips onto a belt, but you can also use accessories to place the Smart Tag on your child at all times. The device comes with a charging cradle for powering the battery, which typically lasts around a week per full charge depending on your settings and use. 

In addition to the device price, the smart tag requires a monthly subscription with three different plans to choose from. The "Basic" plan costs $8.99, Plus is $14.99 and Protect is $16.99 per month. Each plan includes always-on connectivity and real-time location tracking, along with navigational directions to the Smart Tag's location. The Plus and Protect plans include extra features such as unlimited users (to share the location with), unlimited GeoFence locations (basic is limited to 2), and 30-day location history, along with push, SMS and email alerts. 

Also: The best Bluetooth trackers

There's a small button on the front of the tracker that a child can press to alert a guardian of their location and, if needed, dispatch emergency services by calling 911. This feature is only available when you sign up for the Protect plan. 

The Jiobit Smart Tag is designed specifically for kids and includes ample features to help you keep tabs on your child at all times. However, it's also one of the most expensive trackers on a monthly basis, out of every GPS device we tested. 

Pros & Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Battery lasts for one year
  • Only works with Apple products
  • Problems with Apple's Find My network
More Details

Tech specs: Price: $29 or 4 for $99 | Battery life: 1 year | Real-time tracking: No | Monthly cost: None | Connectivity: Bluetooth, Apple's Find My Network 

Apple's AirTags are about the size of a quarter, and there are countless accessories you can use to attach the small tracker to a jacket or backpack -- or you can even slip it into a pocket. There's no monthly fee, and the battery lasts around a year -- after which you can replace the CR2032 battery. 

Apple has tried to make it clear that AirTags are not meant to track pets or children, but it's only natural to be curious: How well can an AirTag keep track of your kid? In general, an AirTag does an okay job. The problem is that an AirTag requires another Apple device to be nearby and connected to the internet in order for its location to be shared with Apple's Find My network. 

Read the review: Apple AirTags review: Tile can't compete with Apple's Find My network

For example, tracking a young child on the school bus requires someone -- most likely another student or the bus driver -- on the bus to have an iPhone or cellular Apple Watch. If there aren't any Apple devices on the bus, the location can't update. 

Another potential drawback to AirTags is that you need another Apple device to view the location. That means you'll need an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch for the initial setup, and after that, you can use a Mac to view the AirTag's location. If you use a Windows or Android device, AirTags just won't work for you. 

An AirTag is better suited for tracking a lost backpack, keys, or another random item that you can be (somewhat) patient about tracking down. The AirTag is arguably the best tracker available for items, period. But for tracking a child, there are better options. 

Pros & Cons
  • Schedule location notifications
  • Create alerts
  • Battery life depends on use frequency
More Details

Tech specs: Price: $129 | Battery life: 4 months | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $39.90/year after first year | Connectivity: Bluetooth, GPS, LTE 

Invoxia's Cellular GPS Tracker looks more like a long USB drive than it does a tracking device. The blank housing has all of the hardware for LTE and GPS connectivity and a battery that can last up to four months.

For $129, you'll get the device and a year's worth of service. After the first year, you'll pay $39.90 for another year's worth of service. 

Using the Android or iPhone app, you can create alerts that are triggered whenever the tracker enters or leaves a specific area. For example, you can create an alert that lets you know when your child has arrived at school or got home. However, the timeliness of those alerts will depend on how often you have the tracker reporting its location. 

A new feature Invoxia added this year is Real-Time Boost, which will report the tracker's location every 30 seconds for the next 30 minutes. This feature only becomes active once your tracker does its next scheduled location update, and that's based on how often you currently have it set to update its location. 

There's also a button on the tracker that a child can press to send their current location. 

If you don't mind charging the device via a microUSB connection, and the 5-minute alert interval is acceptable to you, then the Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker might make sense. However, due to its size, it's better suited for placement in a backpack. 

Pros & Cons
  • Color touchscreen display
  • Low monthly cost
  • Loaded with features and tracking
  • Battery life isn't great
More Details

Tech specs: Price: $150 | Battery life: 2 days | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $10/month | Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi, LTE

Garmin just released its latest kids smartwatch known as Bounce this month. Along with real-time location tracking, it includes communication features, health and sleep tracking, games, and much more. As far as tracking goes, parents can use location tracking on the Bounce to view their child's current whereabouts in the Garmin app, and be notified when they leave pre-approved areas. 

LTE connectivity (that you can purchase from Garmin for $10/month) lets you have two-way texting and voice messaging with your kid for up to 20 parent-approved contacts. 

There are also great health metrics like sleep, steps, and active minutes to keep an eye on your growing child's health. Plus, Garmin includes activity-related games within the watch so kids can unlock rewards for meeting their active goals, or responsibilities parents set like completing a chore.

Pros & Cons
  • Camera and task manager included
  • Easy and fun for kids to use
  • Free with service plan
  • $10/month for service
More Details

Tech specs: Price: $174 | Battery life: Up to a week | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $10 | Connectivity: 4G LTE 

For kids who are too young for a smartphone but mature enough to take care of a gadget, there are products like T-Mobile's SyncUP Kids Watch and the Verizon GizmoWatch (more on it in a minute). 

The wrist-worn gadget costs $174. However, if you're adding a line to your account, you can get the watch for free. It's $10 a month for service, which allows you to talk to and track your child in real-time using T-Mobile's network. 

In general, the SyncUP watch has similar functionality to what you'd find on a normal smartwatch. It includes a camera, and your child can use the device to send and receive messages. With the task manager, a parent can add chores or other tasks for their child to focus on after school.   

The interface is playful and easy for a child to use. And, parents, rest assured that you can use the School Mode to disable extra features during class time, ensuring your kid won't be too distracted by their new wrist computer. 

If you want a device that tracks your child's location and allows for two way communication, the SyncUP Kids watch makes a lot of sense.

Pros & Cons
  • School mode
  • Real-time tracking
  • Video calling
  • LTE connectivity costs extra
More Details

Tech specs: Price: $200 | Battery life: Up to 3 days (standby) or 1.5 days constant use  | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $10 | Connectivity: GPS, Cellular 

Verizon's GizmoWatch has been around for years. For my test, I received the Disney version of the GizmoWatch, and it has more features than the Verizon GizmoWatch 2 (it also costs $100 more). This watch features animated characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars, creating an interactive user experience. Characters react in lively ways on the home screen when checking the weather and when notifications come in. 

The watch has a lot of the same features as T-mobile's SyncUP Kids watch. That is, you can send and receive messages, take calls, and it even has a built-in camera. You can add up to 10 trusted contacts for your child to communicate with while wearing the watch. 

You'll also get real-time tracking and geofence support, so you can receive alerts when your child leaves or arrives at a certain location. 

Just like the SyncUp Kids watch, you can create tasks for your child, set up school mode to keep them from using the watch at school, and more. 

Keep in mind that both GizmoWatch models have a one-time $35 activation fee from Verizon.

Pros & Cons
  • Camera
  • SOS button
  • Three different color options
  • SIM card sold separately
  • Battery life drains quickly
More Details

Tech specs: Price: $150 | Battery life: 72 hours (on standby) | Real-time tracking: Yes | Monthly cost: $7.99/month | Connectivity: Cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS

The Xplora X5 Play watch uses a GPS, active Wi-Fi, and GSM triangulation to provide real-time location tracking. The watch also offers geofencing, so you can set up safety zones around key locations like home and school. If your child wanders out of these pre-marked areas, you will be notified. 

It comes in three color options (blue, black, and pink) and has other features: Voice calling from pre-saved numbers, text messaging, emojis, an SOS mode, and a camera with 4GB of storage space. 

The watch itself doesn't have any games, but there are games involved via the GoPlay app. For every 1,000 steps that your child takes, they will earn one Xcoin, which can be saved up and redeemed for real prizes in the GoPlay store. (For this experience, you'll need to use a smartphone or a tablet.)

You'll also need a SIM card to use the cellular functions of the watch, which is included with the watch and works with most mobile carriers except Verizon. 

In addition, a minimum one-year subscription is required, and it runs at about $8 per month. 

What is the best GPS tracker for kids?

Our recommendation for the best GPS tacker for kids is the Jiobit Smart Tag. It comes with many accessories to clip onto anything, and it's made specifically for kids. However, any of the options on this list would make good GPS trackers/devices for kids. It just depends on what you want, and which features are a priority to you. 

GPS tracker device



Real-time tracking?

Jiobit Smart Tag


1 week


Apple AirTag


1 year


Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker 


4 months


Garmin Bounce


2 days


SyncUp Kids Watch


1 week


Verizon GizmoWatch


Up to 3 days (standby) or 1.5 days constant use


Xplora X5 Play


72 hours (on standby)


Which GPS tracker is right for you?

If money isn't a concern, the Jiobit seems like the best option. Not only is it small and easy for your kid to tote around, but there are also plenty of options that tie into the service it provides. However, the monthly fee may be a deterrent for some.

In that case, the Invoxia tracker is a reliable choice. You'll just have to settle for placing it in a backpack and not in your kid's pocket. 

Lastly, all of the smartwatch options on this list offer a robust set of features and options for both littler kids and older kids. 

Choose this GPS tracker...

If you want...

Jiobit Smart Tag

The best overall option designed specifically for kids

Apple AirTag

An Apple-friendly product 

Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker 

A discreet-looking tracker

Garmin Bounce

A smartwatch loaded with features and real-time tracking                     

SyncUp Kids Watch

A wearable watch for kids under T-Mobile

Verizon GizmoWatch

A wearable watch for kids under Verizon

Xplora X5 Play

A GPS watch that encourages kids to play outside

How did we choose these GPS trackers and devices?

We chose these GPS trackers and devices for kids by a mix of research and personal experience. We compared factors like pricing, reviews (both good and bad), different features, and battery life when making our top picks. 

What is the smallest GPS tracker for kids?

In our guide, the Jiobit Smart Tag is one of the smallest options. It can clip onto a belt, and there's a button on the front of the tracker that a child can press to send an alert to a parent of their location.

Does Fitbit have a GPS tracker for kids?

No, Fitbit makes GPS-enabled activity trackers for kids, but not location trackers with real-time location tracking.

What about privacy concerns?

When it comes to the location of any loved one, especially a child, privacy is a natural concern. Regardless of which option you choose, it's a good idea to take measures to protect your data. Especially when it involves your child's location.

For example, when signing up for an account, use a unique and complicated password -- preferably stored in a password manager -- to add a layer of protection to your account. 

If you're unsure about a product or service, read through the company's privacy policy. For example, Jiobit is owned by Life360, which reportedly sells some of its customers' location data to third parties. However, on the Jiobit website, the company promises none of the data associated with the tracker will be sold. 

Do you have to pay a monthly fee for a GPS tracker?

Unfortunately, many GPS trackers and devices for kids require some kind of additional subscription payment. This is especially true if the device requires an app with advanced features, or a wearable that provides LTE connectivity. 

Be sure to factor this extra cost in when making your final decision. 

Are there alternative GPS trackers and devices for kids to consider?

There are many devices you can use to track your children, but not all are worth the financial investment. When you buy a GPS tracker for your kid, you need it to work efficiently for a reasonable price. 

If these seven options aren't what you're looking for, here are a few other GPS tracker options to consider:

Editorial standards