BuddyTag

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:05 am

My BuddyTagIt was a cold winter night when my six-year-old Bethanie got separated from my family at Six Flags over Texas. We have a tradition of going to Six Flags before Christmas to see the holiday lights and Christmas musicals, drink hot coco and go on the fun rides. It was getting close to the parks closing hours, so we stopped by a gift shop on the way out. My wife thought I was watching Bethanie, and I thought she had her. It was not until we got to the parks’ exit we both realized our youngest one was not with us. We had to fight through the crowd trying to exit and were lucky that we found her back at the gift shop. She was holding the store clerk’s hand with tears rolling down her face. Even though it was only about 10 minutes, it definitely felt like a worst nightmare, and so many horrible possibilities came across my mind.

That same night I searched the Internet for a product that I could use to track my children whenever they are out with me. But everything online was GPS or cellular tracking products. They are expensive, over $150 per piece. Worst yet, there are monthly service charges, averaging about $10 per month. It just so happened that I was working on a Bluetooth product for my company and realized that I could use this unique technology to make a child safety product that is cost effective, has no monthly fees, and easy to use; hence, BuddyTag!

BuddyTag is truly simple to use, and we designed each wristband with kids in mind- there are over 5 color combinations! Each BuddyTag set comes with a Bluetooth tag that fits into a custom designed wristband, and a free app that you can download onto your iPhone (4S or newer) or Samsung phone (Galaxy S3, S4, Note2 and Note3 with Android 4.3). There are many unique capabilities, but there are four that you should really know about.

The one we hear most about from parents is the Out of Range alert. When your child wanders out of your pre-set proximity, our app will sound an alarm and vibrate your phone to alert you. When you get the alert, you want to quickly get your child back within your sight. The maximum distance varies depending on which phone you have and also your surroundings (open space vs. a house with many walls). With my iPhone 5S, my daughter’s BuddyTag can work up to about 80 feet at a playground. My sister has a Samsung Note3, and her phone can track a BuddyTag up to about 120 feet. Our app also has a customization setting that allows you customize the range.

My BuddyTag - colors for kids

I personally find the Panic Button the most useful with my two daughters! When they are out shopping with me, I am always nervous about letting them use a public restroom because I don’t know who is in there and what’s going on inside. If my daughters ever felt threatened in any way, they are taught to scream and quickly press the Panic Button on their BuddyTag . My phone will alert me, so I can quickly take actions to help them.

Speaking of which, whether you have one child or a Brady Bunch, you can connect all their BuddyTags to your phone and even enter each child’s name so you know which BuddyTag is who. This way you can track all your children on the same app. Not to worry though – you are the ONLY person who can track your child’s BuddyTag. Once it is connected to your device, no one else can see it. If you want to pass your child’s BuddyTag to your spouse, you simply disconnect it from your device and let your spouse connect to it with theirs. We wanted simple – but safety was key!

If you and your child do get separated, the Personal ID tag will help reunite your lost child with you. Our silicone wristband has a white sticker for your name and phone number, while the Velcro and terrycloth wristbands have a personal ID insert. If your child doesn’t have your cell phone number memorized this feature is very important.

If you are a working parent with a babysitter taking your child out for daily activities, the Email with Last Seen Location is extremely useful. Before leaving your kids, download the BuddyTag app onto your babysitter’s phone. If the child wanders out of the Bluetooth signal range from the babysitter, our app alerts the babysitter that the child is out of range and also sends an email to two additional designated persons with the date, time and the Google map location of where they got separated. When you receive the email, you can quickly call your babysitter to make sure your child is safe and sound.

My engineering team and I spent over a year optimizing our app and refining our BuddyTag design. Based on our customers’ feedback, we made sure to address any concerns about easy removal of the wristbands. Our patent pending silicone wristband is reinforced with Mylar and fastened with a custom designed coin screw. Once you use a coin to fasten the wristband on your child, it’s actually pretty difficult to remove it. Alternatively, if you want something that is easier to put on and take off, our Velcro and terrycloth wristbands would be perfect. If having something around their wrist bothers your child, you can loop the Velcro wristband around one of the belt loops or simply remove the Bluetooth tag and place it in one of your child’s pockets.

Like all technology and safety products, BuddyTag is not meant to replace proper parental supervision. It is best to use BuddyTag in conjunction with the healthful hints below. I sincerely hope BuddyTag brings you a peace of mind as it has for me!

Editor’s Note: If you want to see BuddyTag in action, it will be featured on the TODAY show on Monday, March 10, 2014. Look for it on your local NBC station.

HEALTHFUL HINTS:

Before you visit a theme park or go shopping with your child, develop a game plan on how to find each other if you get separated. Keep it simple because your child will not remember too many things when in panic.

  1. Stay Where You Are. Don’t panic, just stay where you are at. Don’t try to wander around and look for mom and dad. It’s easier for mom and dad to trace our way back to find you than you trying to find us.
  2. Ask for Help, But Don’t “Go” with Strangers. You can ask for help from adults, but first look for police officers, security guards, store clerks or theme park workers wearing uniforms and nametags. If you don’t see any uniformed personnel, you look for other kids holding hands with their moms. Ask one of the moms for help, but don’t go with them. When I was at Disney World with my children during Thanksgiving, the first thing we did when we got to the park is to teach my children recognizing park employees. Most theme park employees wear colorful polo shirts and khaki pants, and they all usually have nametags on.
  3. Carry Personal ID Information. My younger daughter is 7 years old now, but I still make her carry personal ID information with her. I am concerned that she might not remember my cell phone number when she is in panic. It doesn’t have to be a BuddyTag, but simply a piece of paper with your name and phone number will work.

If you have children younger than 4 years old, you should also make sure they know your full name. Many young children know their parents only as mommy and daddy. It is crucial to teach them to yell out your full name when lost.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-24-2014 to 03-02-2014

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:26 pm

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:
New App Makes It Easy to Stalk Friends (or Strangers!) Without Them Really Knowing http://t.co/i1B4USnBR2 yes parents, there’s another app you need to watch out for…

Want to Know How to Get Your Kids to Really Talk to You?

Last updated on March 13th, 2014 at 12:54 am

Does it seem like an effort to get your children to say anything to you besides, “Fine” and “What’s for dinner?” Lack of communication can make parents feel closed off from their own kids.

But don’t despair! You can get kids to talk to you — really. Try these six suggestions from experts:

1: Don’t compare yourself to TV families.

Really good talk is pricelessIf you watch shows like Modern Family or The Middle and wonder why your kids aren’t as chatty as the kids on those shows, you’re not alone. “Parents see kids talking to their parents on TV and they start worrying that they’re not doing enough of it,” says Carl Grody, LISW, MSW, a social worker who specializes in child, adolescent and family therapy in Columbus, Ohio. “Those [TV] parents have scriptwriters and 22 minutes of airtime to solve problems. In real life, it takes longer to make changes, but the changes are real, not made up.”

2: Pause and take a deep breath.

Telling your kids you’re upset about their one-word answers will only make the problem worse. “If you seem jittery, you may be projecting this to your kids and that stress is more likely to push them away than it is to draw them in,” Grody adds. Calm down and put things in perspective. You’re probably doing better than you think in the communication department.

3: Quiet your inner interviewer.

Instead of peppering your child with questions every day, ask him just one. “This may seem insufficient, but as you have more success getting him to answer you once, your child will feel more comfortable chatting and may even start volunteering more information,” Grody says.

4: Put down your phone!

If you want your kids to talk to you, set aside your cell, tablet or any other electronic distraction, says Loni Coombs, author of You’re Perfect…and Other Lies Parents Tell. Make your body language open and assuring: Turn your whole body toward your child and make eye contact. “This is important, because when there is something really important that they need to talk about, they will feel like they can come to you because they know you will listen.”

5: Make meals fun.

Since mealtimes are often when most families gather, make that time an enjoyable one. Draw out your kids by hiding questions under each plate. Or have each family member write out a question, suggests Coombs. “Everyone feels more talkative when there’s food involved,” Coombs says. “Sharing in the preparation of the meal is also a good time to talk.”

6: Consider instituting family meetings.

To create an environment where conversation is encouraged, schedule times several days a week to get together and share your thoughts as a family. “This becomes part of the family ritual and encourages conversation and sharing,” says Richard Horowitz, a parenting coach and author of Family Centered Parenting.

And to keep things going, avoid asking open-ended questions. “Instead of asking, ‘How was your day?’, which often leads to one-word answers, ask, ‘What was the best thing and worst thing that happened in school today?’” Horowitz suggests. “And always respond with non-judgmental comments.”