The following is a post from Jay Harris. Jay is a writer for Home Depot's Blog and lives in the Chicago suburbs. Jay keeps families up-to-date with information on surveillance cameras and security systems. Interested in guest blogging for us? Email here.
Smartphones are getting smarter every day. It seems that there are apps for just about everything, from determining whether rain and clouds are likely to ruin your ballgame, to checking the scores (or watching it live).
Using free or low-cost apps, you can even transform your old smartphone into a wireless security camera to help protect your home and your family. Apps like 'Presence' allow you to turn a second phone into a remote video camera, allowing you to keep tabs on pets, kids or elderly relatives while you are at work or anywhere else, without having to install a pricey home security system.
Keeping Your Kids Safe
Most importantly, apps and other electronic tricks are available that will help protect your children. For example, the start-up company SmartThings is developing a "key fob" you can attach to your child's backpack. It signals you by text when your child leaves the house in the morning and arrives home from school in the afternoon. And you can download a variety of apps that will help ease your mind when your children are somewhere other than at your side.
1. FBI Child ID: This app, developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lets you store photos and other vital information about your children. If it ever becomes necessary, you can easily provide authorities with a picture of your child, along with physical information such as height and weight.
2. Sex Offender Search: Download this app and you'll always know about sex offenders who live in or near your neighborhood. The information comes from the National Sex Offender Registry.
3. Find My Kids - Footprints: You can use this app to track your children in real time and also to find out where they've been recently. The app lets you set up geofences – your child's school, for example – and notifies you if those fences are crossed.
4. Near Parent: This app permits your kids to check in occasionally to let you know they are OK. If you child actually needs help, a request is sent to trusted adults chosen by you. In addition, you can be notified about impending violent weather such as floods, tornadoes and earthquakes.
5. AMBER Alert: Developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, this app was designed to help find missing children. If you have information about a missing child, you can push a button that automatically calls NCMEC's toll-free hotline.
6. Hero (by Apptooth): This app helps spread information quickly about abductions, robberies and car accidents. By pressing a button, users can send video, audio and GPS coordinates to their social networking contacts and others within a five-mile radius.
7. Norton Online Family: This app allows parents to monitor their kids' Web browsing, social media activity and searches on the Internet, to keep them from visiting inappropriate sites and to limit their time on their computer.
8. McGruff SafeGuard Browser: This app permits parents to limit their child's access to pornography and gambling sites. Parents also can view a daily summary of their kid's travels on the Internet.
9. iEmergency ICE Family PRO: This app lets parents store health data concerning allergies, prescriptions and medical conditions. ICE stands for "In Case of Emergency."
10. Food Additives 2: This app offers information on food additives that can be harmful to your children.
11. iCam: Have you ever wanted to monitor what your kids are doing at home while you're at work? If so, this app is for you. It lets you watch live video from any room in your house, as long as you have a webcam and a computer in the room.
12. SecuraFone: This app uses a smartphone's GPS to locate your children and tell you how fast they are driving. It also can notify you if your child ventures beyond a specific geographic area.
13. mamaBear: You want your children to be safe in the physical world, but you also want them to be safe online. This app monitors your child's Facebook feed, alerting you about bullying and crude language.
Your smartphone can be a valuable weapon in the battle to keep your home and your family safe and secure.
What other apps have you found useful for keeping your family and home safe?