When it comes to children, the smartphone has gotten a bum rap in the recent years. Adults have placed the blame for everything from bullying to low grades on the same technology that they rely on for daily business and family planning. Since there is no reason to believe that young people are suddenly going to abandon their love of smartphones, some schools have found ways to use them in a positive way — to keep children safe. Here’s how.

Always Know Where Your Child Is

Smartphones make for a wonderful tracking system. The Apple iPhone 7 or Galaxy Note 7 from Samsung has an enabled GPS system that is accurate within feet. Link this with security tracking applications, like Life360, and you always have the location of your child. It is important that both you and your son or daughter understand that Life360 is not a form of spy software, instead, it enables everyone in the family to communicate rapidly in the case of an emergency. Not only does it use GPS to plot locations, but it also has a crisis button and a crash detection function to keep a young driver safe on the road.

Rapidly Alerting Authorities

The average high school in America has 752 students, the National Center for Education Statistics says. With this many people in one location, it is nearly impossible to see everything that is happening. In cases of crisis, researchers are finding that it is the students who are alerting authorities, bringing life-saving rescue in a fraction of the time that it would take for someone to run to the office and back. Because of this, some schools have set up a crisis text number for rapid deployment of rescue teams. In the event of need, students can text the number and receive assistance immediately. This is akin to a 911 system that is local to the school. By having this system, it allows administrators to dispatch aid that is appropriate to the situation.

An Electronic Companion

For some working parents, their child will leave school by either catching the bus or walking home. This gives them hours of unmonitored time where the worst could happen. Software developers are exploring the relationship between walking and technology use, finding ways to keep the students connected to those who love them while maintaining awareness of the environment around them. They focus on the user’s interaction with the device, the caretaker’s responsiveness to information and the dangers of the area around the walker. Some of the software can sense oncoming traffic or alert the child when the street is near.

Disaster Preparedness

The earthquake that devastated parts of Japan in 2011 shows the power and necessity that the smartphone offers students while they are away from their parents. Natural disasters generally happen without warning. The separation and fear can be psychologically scarring, creating post traumatic disorders that can affect the rest of the young person’s life. Japanese developers are creating an infrastructure, including economic factors and education, which will create a social network in times of disaster. This network will allow students and parents to log on via smartphones and post information that will unify the family. The network will be an emergency-only system that works outside of the normal cellphone environment.

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