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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Classes have resumed for most of Arkansas, and as students head back to school, some parents have been taking on a bigger role in keeping track of their children.
They’ve been doing so with wearable tracking technology.
Jade Culp, mom of 2nd grader Zeke Culp at E-Stem Elementary in Little Rock made the decision to buy a T-Mobile smartwatch for kids. The watch has allowed her to track Zeke’s location, and it has also allowed him the ability 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 through the wrong door.
“I’m at work, panicking. And then he’s like crying…and I texted him. I was like, stay where you are, and he read the watch, and he stayed where he was…We were able to get him because I could see him on the watch on the app,” Culp said.
Ron Self, the Safety and Security Director for Little Rock School District explained that this type of limited communication technology isn’t new, but has gained popularity in recent years. Specifically in devices like watches and AirTags, as well as apps like Life360.
“Anything that parents can do to do their part to keep their kids safe, I think it’s a great thing,” Self said.
But he added that parents should still feel secure with the safety measures the district already has in place.
“The Little Rock School District… is fortunate enough to not only have a large security department, but a very great partnership with LRPD, as well,” Self explained.
Culp did admit she had some hesitation with the use of the smartwatch at first but said that she stands by her decision. “At first, it made me feel like that overbearing helicopter mom… but it helped so much…” Culp also said, “What if it was like a situation where he was kidnapped or school shooting… I want him to be able to 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 that, that may not always work, you know, during an emergency situation, and to trust that the district is keeping their best interest in mind.”
There are still some technology-free ways to help keep kids safe in school this year and every year.
“Little things like making sure kids know their phone numbers and addresses…If they see something don’t be scared to tell an adult and let us know what’s going on,” Self explained.
Whether you have made the choice to track your children via technology or not, the top priority for everyone will still be to make sure they are kept safe.
“It’s nice to have that extra security. And I don’t care how much that watch would have cost. I’m super glad we have it,” Culp said.
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