Moving a child onto the next level of independence is a difficult one – you want to let them try things out, but you want them to be safe. I think it’s extra hard for an only child as there is no safety in numbers, no sibling to rely on, no one to share responsiblities with. I’m aware that when I was H’s age I used to go play with other local children in the park. My parents were very cautious and we weren’t allowed to play out until I was 9 and we were living in a house that backed onto the park. There were no roads to cross and it was all very easy. These days though there are no kids his age playing in the park without adults. There are older children, there are children with their families, but there are no 9 year olds hanging out on their bikes; climbing trees; roller skating; or playing tennis like I used to. So allowing a bit more independence is difficult. So when I was asked to review Spotter I did so with a view to trying to increase independence safely.
Over the summer H had been going to the park with me to hunt for Pokemon, but he would rarely leave my sight unless he had a friend there to buddy with. Since the weather turned colder though that hasn’t been happening much though. So we decided to try something a bit different to put the Spotter through its paces. The idea was we would try to use it as finding device for a big game of hide and seek. Instead of just hiding within easy distance, H could hide further away taking the Spotter with him. I could follow several minutes behind using the app on my phone to track him. It worked surprisingly well, although I’d still need to look for H behind trees and so on when I knew I was in the right area. Now that we have got the hang of it, we can use it as a security device – I think I will attach it to his new bike as an added security measure.
The Spotter comes with the Spotter itself – it’s a nice organic shape and fits comfortably into the hand. However, we used it with the belt clip that came with it. It also comes with a charging cable and socket and you will need to charge it for 2 to 3 hours before you can use it – it has a battery indicator light so you can see when it is charged. You also get a activation code and a manual.
How does the Spotter work?
The Spotter finds the current location through GPS. This location is sent to your online account and you can view the data in the app. The app can be downloaded from the App Store or the Play Store and is available in iOS and Android versions. You link up your Spotter and your online account with the Spotter code that comes with your device. Do this before you set out.
We have been using this for a fun game, but I can see this being useful for parents of ‘runners’ and it can provide a bit of peace of mind if you are worried about that. I could also see me using this when I allow H to walk to a friend’s house or similar to give me a little extra security. It’s obviously not a substitute for teaching your child about personal safety, but I think it does add a level of back up. I think it would be good as a security device too as you could easily attach it to a bike or an expensive buggy/pushchair.