LG wristband for kids preys on parents’ fears, child-safety expert says

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LG Electronics says it will introduce a wearable tracking device for young children that allows parents to call their kids and even listen surreptitiously if the child doesn’t respond.

However, a child-safety expert believes that the product is just another attempt by manufacturers to exploit parents’ fears about child abduction, which is an issue that we investigated in “Real Hope or False Promises: Child-Tracking Devices.”

LG says the KizOn wristband is targeted toward parents who have preschool or primary-school children. LG says the wristband will be available later in 2014, but it didn’t give a date. Pricing wasn’t announced.

The wristband allows parents to track the location of their child by using the wristband’s built-in GPS and a Google Android mobile application on their smartphone. The child also can dial a preprogrammed phone number by pressing a direct-call button, and the call will be connected via 2G or 3G cellular service.

What’s unique about the KizOn is that if a parent calls the child and the call isn’t answered within 10 seconds, then the KizOn automatically connects the call and activates the built-in microphone so parents can listen to the child.

Unfortunately, when Consumers Digest asked LG to give examples of when a parent might use the listening feature, the company didn’t respond. Child-safety expert Kim Estes of Savvy Parents Safe Kids believes that the KizOn, like most tracking devices that are marketed to parents who have young children, feeds on kidnapping fears.

“It is irresponsible marketing when a company tries to sell a product that exploits parents’ fears, especially tapping into a risk that is exceptionally low,” Estes says.

Although LG says the product is designed for young children, Estes believes that such tracking devices can benefit parents of children who have autism or other developmental disabilities. For instance, Estes says the ability to track and communicate with a child who is prone to wandering off can provide relief to caregivers and parents. However, such children often are older and, as such, don’t support the market that LG targets with this device, Estes says.

– K. Carlson