As children return to school, some parents are now monitoring their children using technology such as smartwatches.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Classes have resumed across most of Arkansas, and as students return to school, some parents are taking a bigger role in keeping track of their children.
They did it with wearable tracking technology.
Jade Culp, mom to Zeke Culp, a 2nd grade student at E-Stem Elementary School in Little Rock, made the decision to buy a T-Mobile smartwatch for the kids. The watch allowed him to track Zeke’s location, and it also allowed him to call and text a few select numbers.
She explained that the smartwatch came in handy during the first week of school this year after Zeke left the wrong door.
“I’m at work, freaking out. And then he feels like crying…and I texted him. I was like, stay where you are, and he read the watch, and he stayed where he was. was… We were able to catch it because I could see it on the watch app,” Culp said.
Ron Self, director of safety and security for the Little Rock School District, explained that this type of limited communications technology is not new, but has grown in popularity in recent years. Specifically in devices like watches and AirTags, as well as apps like Life360.
“Anything parents can do to do their part to keep their kids safe, I think is a good thing,” Self said.
But he added that parents should still feel safe with the safety measures the district already has in place.
“Little Rock School District … is fortunate to not only have a great security department, but also a great partnership with LRPD,” Self explained.
Culp admitted she was initially hesitant with using the smartwatch, but said she stands by her decision. “At first it made me feel like that overbearing mom from the helicopter…but it helped so much…” Culp also said, “What if it was like a situation where he got kidnapped or that he shot a school…I want him so he can text me, call me, tell me what’s going on.”
Self explained that communication devices such as the kids’ smartwatch are a personal family choice, he also expressed some caution, “…remember, it may not always work, you know, when an emergency situation, and have confidence that the district has their best interests in mind.”
There are still tech-free ways to keep kids safe at school this year and every year.
“Little things like making sure kids know their phone numbers and addresses…If they see anything, don’t be afraid to tell an adult and let us know what happens” , explained Self.
Whether you’ve made the choice to track your kids via technology or not, everyone’s top priority will always be to make sure they’re safe.
“It’s nice to have that extra security. And I don’t care how much this watch costs. I’m super glad we have it,” Culp said.