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As a father of 6 kids, one of the things that is always concerning to me is keeping track of all of my kids whenever we go out to a crowded place. Or rather I should say that it’s something that concerns my WIFE – I figure if I lose a kid then hey, I’ve got 5 more :-). We have actually lost our kids several times over the past ~15 years, though the absolute worst time was when we couldn’t find our then 5 year old at Lake Erie. After 5-10 minutes of looking for him you start thinking “Oh man he’s under the water somewhere dead!” (Spoiler alert: he was totally fine, playing on a swing set down the beach a bit). I’ve seen things like the backpack “leash” and we have used other similar tech things in the past but haven’t used any type of child wearable / tracker in quite some time, so I thought I would take a look at the Joey Tag which is marketed as a high-tech way to keep track of your kids. Disclosure – Joey Tag sent me 2 units complimentary but did not pay me for this Joey Tag review or anything else.
Joey Tag review: the basics
The Joey Tag is a Bluetooth-based device with short-range GPS designed to prevent lost children. Unlike the traditional safety GPS wearable devices for kids, The Joey Tag requires no monthly service fees, making it accessible for all families. Adults can download the free The Joey Tag app, available on iOS and Android, to enable its outdoor short-range GPS and indoor Bluetooth proximity sensing features, with a tracking distance of up to 100 yards. Once a child wanders out of proximity, The Joey Tag app notifies the adult by sounding an alert and providing the GPS location of the child on a map; concurrently, The Joey Tag alerts the child by sounding an audible alert an vibrating on the child’s wrist. In addition, the device features a patented pending locking mechanism on the wristband itself and can only be taken off with the included keychain, making it difficult to remove.
Each Joey Tag includes one rechargeable tag and USB cable, one wristband and one custom keychain (pictured below)
How to use the Joey Tag
The Joey Tag is pretty easy to use and set up – download the app (iPhone or Android), connect the Joey Tag to your phone’s Bluetooth, and that’s just about it. You’ll want to make sure and charge everything before you head out, but we never had a problem with battery life.
Here are our kids in the Staybridge Suites San Francisco Airport hotel in California with their Joey Tags, ready to hit the streets of San Francisco
Adjusting the distance on the Joey Tag
One issue we ran into on the Joey Tag was that you do want to calibrate the “safe” distance, depending on how much you want the thing going off. The age of your child as well as how likely they are to stick with you would play into that. As I mentioned, we had the tags on our 8 and 5 year olds, and for our 8 year old specifically, I wasn’t too worried about him getting lost. We ended up setting his at the maximum range of 100 yards.
Originally we had the distance set pretty low, so even just all walking together, his Joey Tag would go off if he wasn’t RIGHT next to my wife. My daughter’s tag did go off some time, even when she was sitting right next to me. I’m not sure if there was something wrong with it or (more likely), we just didn’t have it set up right.
Joey Tag – does it really keep your kids safe?
I think in general the Joey Tag gives a parent some piece of mind that they are doing something to protect their child. but in a place like Disney, if they get lost having the Joey Tag (that make sounds you would never hear at Disney) doesn’t really help locate them so well.
I guess if they were really lost, the GPS could help you narrow down where they are, but i’m not sure how helpful it would actually be in finding the child lost in a noisy crowd like at a theme park.
And if we’re getting truly morbid, if the child were kidnapped, it seems like they could just cut off the Joey Tag.
There was at least once or twice when my daughter’s tag went off because she was too far from me, and I didn’t KNOW she had stepped too far from me, so it was a good reminder to me to check on her. In those cases the Joey Tag was really useful.
When you have a lot of kids like us, it’s easy to get busy talking to the group and not realize one may not be there or is just a bit too far off.
Which is why we’re always counting heads!
Joey Tag review – overall thoughts
Overall i think it’s a decent product that is a good preventive device. It’s much better for preventing lost children than actually finding lost children. One suggestion we had would be to have the child’s wrist band make louder noises. It’s much too quiet as it stands now if you’re in a large crowd like we were at Disney World
Where you can buy a Joey Tag
The Joey Tag is available for pre-order currently and has an MSRP of $89.99. For more information on the Joey Tag, you can visit http://www.thejoeytag.com. The site currently says that pre-orders will ship in April 2017, so I’d expect them to ship before too long.