5 apps that can help keep your kids safe

The numbers are horrifying:

  • Nearly 800,000 children – one every 40 seconds – will be reported missing or abducted every year in the U.S., according to the Justice Department.
  • Throughout the world, 8 million children vanish every year, according to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • U.S. law enforcement agencies have seen a dramatic increase in cases of sexual exploitation of children: 1 of 4 girls and 1 of 6 boys will be sexually abused before they’re adults, the DOJ reports.

And the cyberworld has been anything but helpful. While the Internet opens a wonderful world of possibilities for children, it also exposes them them to a variety of dangers. According to Crimes Against Children Research Center, approximately 20 percent of children between 10 and 17 receive unwanted sexual solicitations online.

Whether your child is in kindergarten or going away to college, these apps can help keep him or her safe.

Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android
Price: Free

The panic that sets in when you lose sight of your child while out shopping or at a crowded event is indescribable. But what if your child truly vanished? Would you know what to do?

The FBI created the FBI Child ID app to help you prepare for the unthinkable. Because the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child, the app stores all the information authorities need to begin their search immediately.

It stores up-to-date images and physical descriptions – including ethnicity, height, weight, birthmarks, hair color, eye color, and other key identifying information, such as fingerprints – and it enables you to quickly and easily email the information to authorities in an emergency.

LIFE 360

Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android
Price: Free

Managing the family’s to-do list while keeping a close eye on the kids can be tough. Life 360 is a one-stop solution that not only helps you keep your kids safe, but also helps you manage everything from carpools to dinner plans. Using the app, families create closed groups, or “circles,” with private maps, messaging and check-ins. You can see your whole family on a private map and stay in touch with a one-tap check-in button. It lets you know where your kids are, and it lets your kids check in while they’re with their friends without suffering the embarrassment of calling mommy and daddy.

If there’s an emergency, an alert button sends everyone in the family an instant email, voicemail, and text message. For regular stops like school, work and home, Life 360 can send automatic notifications so you know when people come and go. You can also create other circles on this app for carpooling, babysitters, grandparents, the Little League team and more.

Platforms:  iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android
Price: Free

MamaBear is a parenting app that helps you see your family on a map and receive arrival and departure notifications, but what’s unique about this app is its ability to keep your children safe online.

Using MamaBear, parents can monitor their children’s interactions across social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and they can be alerted to signs of cyberbullying or inappropriate language on social media posts. The app will even notify you when your child is driving faster than your own speed limit.

Platforms: iPhone, Android
Price: $14.95 a month after a 7-day free trial

Parents have good reason to worry about what their children are doing and seeing online. The amount of time kids spend on the Internet is steadily increasing; 12- to 17-year-olds who use texting send and receive an average of 1,500 messages per month; cellphones have become the medium for bullies who think they can hide behind the electronic screen.

If you want to monitor your child’s online activity closely, Teen Safe is for you. It lets parents view texts, deleted messages, call logs, the device location and location history, Web browsing history, Instagram posts and much more.

If you've ever told your children that you have eyes in the back of your head, this may convince them.

Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch notifications
Price: $3.99 (app store) $6.99 (Mac app store)

If you’re looking for a baby monitor, this may be for you. This app works over Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE and Bluetooth, so you can easily keep an eye on your baby when you’re home or away.

Features include high-quality live video, the ability to soothe the baby with your voice remotely, night light intensity control and super-sensitive noise and motion alerts. You can even create custom playlists for your baby using songs, white noises or fairy tales in your iTunes library.