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Parents should talk with kids before using AirTag tracking, expert says

AirTags or other digital tracking devices are being used to help families with children too young to have a smartphone.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Back to school safety is always one of the top priorities for parents sending kids back to class. Some parents whose children are not old enough to have a smartphone are turning to other options to know their location.

AirTags and other wearable tracking technology weren’t designed to track people, only keys, wallets or luggage. Now, retailers sell silicone bands and pins to put on wrists or waistbands. So can they be used for more than property?

Consumer 10 reached out to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to see what they recommend if parents turn to trackers for their safety reasons. In most cases, it can be used for good, according to emergency medical physician Dr. Mike Patrick.

“I think it gives parents a little bit of peace of mind. I certainly wouldn't rely on it as your only layer of protection,” said Dr. Patrick. “There are a lot of things that we can do to keep our kids safe. But certainly, knowing where they are, and having a trackable device on them… I think that's helpful.”

But before you plant a device in a backpack, talk to your child first.

“I would definitely not recommend hiding any kind of device that can track your child. This really means everything that we do with our kids out to be open, honest conversations so that we can develop trust with one another,” said Dr. Patrick. “So that really puts the culture in place in the home for them to ask questions and to not feel like they're being judged.”

So when should you react if you see the tracking device in a place you shouldn’t be? Dr. Patrick says there is a time to act.

“If you're worried that they're involved in a nefarious situation, aren't where they're supposed to be. If you feel safe going there, that's absolutely fine. But on the other hand, if you think you could be putting yourself in danger, or you have no idea where they are, then I would contact law enforcement.”

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