Managing a family can be tough gig: there’s always a ton of events on the calendar to remember, groceries to buy, and hazards for you, your partner, and your children to avoid. Luckily, these days, there a number of great mobile apps that can assist you in assuring that one vital aspect of family living is taken care of: safety and security.

With features ranging from video monitoring to GPS tracking, these 11 apps all assist in keeping your family safe and on the same page. Through their use, your family will find it easier to keep in touch, track each other’s whereabouts, share urgent information, and stick together as a unit. What’s more, they are all either free or rather affordable, and--for the most part--available on both iOS and Android devices.

So, check out our list and try out the apps that feel right for you and your family’s needs, whether you are the father of three busy teenagers, or an expectant mother pregnant with your first child. After checking them out, we promise you won’t know what you’d be able to do without at least one, or two, of the apps on this list.

Family Communication and Locator

Life 360

Nothing puts you more at ease than knowing the real-time location of your family (and friends). Life 360’s Family Locator & GPS Tracker is one of the best apps available in this niche, using the latest GPS technology to show what your family members are up to and where, with personalized icons on a private map viewable only by family members.

The app allows you to create groups known as “Circles” where everyone can communicate with each other and fill one another in on their latest up-to-the-minute life developments. You can even get real-time text alerts when members of a Circle arrive or leave destinations, which cancels out the need to send constant “Where are you?” texts requesting ETA’s. Life 360’s app makes coordinating parties and events much simpler providing you with the knowledge of where each family member is, along with a group chat for members to share last minute updates and plan alterations.

On the emergency assistance side of things, the app sends local crime alerts if you need to be on the lookout for criminals, and emergency notifications if something goes wrong with a member of your Circle. Life360 even includes a Driver Care Support feature that can connect you or your loved ones with a live representative to assist in roadside emergencies, and can arrange a tow truck to come to the site if necessary.

All in all, a stellar, overachieving tracking app.

(Free to install, $2.99 a month, $24.99 a year for Life360 Plus subscription, iOS, Android)

GPS Location Tracker

iSharing

Another excellent, highly-recommended family locator app that can ease the anxiety of having a big family with members participating in many activities in a number of locations.

Like Life 360’s family locator app, iSharing’s app shows the real-time location of family members on a private map that only they may view, and sends alerts when family members arrive or leave destinations. For parents, the location history feature is a great way to keep tabs on kids: you can know everywhere they’ve been, even if they don’t love the idea. The GPS location finder’s ability to track lost or stolen phones is another added bonus.

Some of the features exclusive to iSharing’s locator app include the ability to shake your phone to send a Panic Alert to all family members in case of emergency, and a handy setting that turns your phone into a walkie talkie.

The app comes with a great reputation, with thousands of overwhelmingly positive reviews from users on both the Apple App store and Google Play store.

(Free to Install, Premium Service $3.99 a month, in-app purchases, iOS, Android)

Baby Monitor

Cloud Baby Monitor

Lauded by CNET and Computerworld, and featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, Cloud Baby Monitor is the essential baby monitoring app. Perfect for parents who want to keep tabs on their sleeping newborn, but don’t want to shill for an expensive camera setup, Cloud Baby Monitor costs just 4 bucks and requires two Apple devices to run its two-way video and audio communication feature.

To use the app, simply download and install it on two (or more) devices: an older phone to serve as the in-crib camera, and on your own from which to monitor your child. After setup is complete, you can watch and listen to live video of your baby from anywhere through Wi-Fi, 3G, or LTE from any distance, and even sing coo’s or lullabies to lull him or her to sleep. Cloud Baby Monitor also has a remote controlled night light function so you can watch your baby sleep after the lights are out. Furthermore, if one camera isn’t enough for you, the app also supports a multi-camera setting.

For parents worried about others hacking into the video feed, the app features industry standard encryption to ensure that nobody else gains access to the crib cam.

($3.99, iOS, release for Android forthcoming)

Parenting and Baby Development Tracker

Ovia Health

Likely the best all-in-one baby development tracker on the market, the Ovia Parenting & Development Tracker has a ton of features perfect for new parents. The app allows you to track development, week-by-week, from the womb and beyond, while marking major milestones in your child’s life and saving them in your family calendar. If you like, you can upload photos and videos in your journal that coincide with each of your child’s milestones.

On the health and development tip, the app provides access to over 1,000 articles written by experts to lending advice on how to best care for your child and ensure that he or she reaches the milestones that every parent loves to bear witness to. By taking the in-app health assessment, you can make sure that your child is progressing at a positive rate.

Ovia’s great app also has a social component, allowing you to invite friends and family members to view your baby’s milestones. Another great social feature is the app’s Community, which allows to ask fellow users, parents, and caregivers anonymous questions regarding your child’s development.

In terms of what it does, no other app matches the features, customizability, and great social aspects of Ovia Parenting.

(Free, iOS, Android)

Sex Offenders Search

Log Sat Software LLC

All parents want to be familiar with every possible danger lurking in their neighborhood, and Sex Offenders Search helps let every mother and father if how safe theirs is from a peculiarly nasty section of the populace. Basically doing exactly what it says, Sex Offenders Search allows you to search sex offenders on a daily updated database by address (city or zip code), current location, name, or any address in your contacts.

This is a tough subject to broach, but if you are looking for a new home, having people of questionable character nearby can be a serious dealbreaker, and this app satisfies this function more effectively than any other. Sex Offenders Search shows you photos, physical profiles and other info about registered sex offenders in a given locale, and is the only app of its kind that allows you to search by name.

The perpetually-updated database and one-time cost render this app essential for any parent. As of right now, the app only logs offenders within the United States, so it’s not the best option for families living or traveling abroad.

($3.99, iOS, Android)

In Case of Emergency

ICE

God forbid you or your family members experience an emergency, but in the scenario that someone does, this is an important app to have on your phone.

ICE - In Case of Emergency allows you to log in detailed contact info, medical history, medications you take, allergies, blood type, emergency contacts, and just about anything else you’d like for medical professionals, or random bystanders to be privy to in the case that you or a family member is incapacitated in the aftermath of a car accident, or some other emergency.

The info stored on the app is accessible from the lockscreen, meaning that no passcode is necessary to bring it up. All someone needs to do is awaken your phone and tap the permanent notification to bring up the information necessary in an emergency. Don’t sleep on ICE - In Case of Emergency: it could very well be a lifesaver.

(Free to install, in-app purchases, Android)

Allergy Information

WebMD, LLC

Allergies range from being a mild annoyance to a serious health risk, depending on the severity of the problem. That’s why it’s wise to install this excellent app to keep track of all of you and your family members’ specific allergies. WebMD Allergy is terrific for those family members afflicted with food, skin, and drug allergies, allowing you to record symptoms when you or your child encounters a possible allergen. Managing each of your family members’ allergies is made easy through the ability to create individual profiles for everyone in your flock.

WebMD especially shines when it comes to outdoor allergies to things like pollen, with a 3-day allergen forecast feature that lets you know when the air in your area will be high in a specific allergen. You can also check different areas’ allergen forecast if you plan to travel in the near future.

For users that’d like to learn more about different allergies, the app comes with an extensive library of articles and media covering 7 categories of allergies: Drug, Skin, Food, Latex, Insect Bites and Stings, Indoor, and Outdoor. The library provides a wealth of information, just don’t be too liberal with self diagnoses; we know how easy that can be with WebMD’s website.

(Free, iOS, Android)

Heartbeat Tracker

My Baby’s Beat

One of the most creative uses of the iPhone’s microphone ever, My Baby’s Beat allows you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat while in utero without any additional accessories or devices.

The app does have some recommended conditions for use: My Baby’s Beat works best after week 30, set on airplane mode, and with your phone freed from its case, but it provides an unparalleled app experience for mothers and fathers-to-be. Hearing your child’s heartbeat through the mother’s belly with nothing but an iPhone is a comforting bonding experience that can put your mind at ease knowing your baby is developing and on its way to being born. An additional feature included with the app is the ability to store recordings and share them with family and loved ones.

It’s important to note that My Baby’s Beat is not a medical device, and won’t give you any detailed information about your baby’s health (you’ll need a doctor or midwife for that), but it’s great for what it does. Since its release in 2011, expectant mothers have spoken, and the app remains #1 in the Apple App Store Lifestyle category to this day.

($4.99, iOS)

Home Security 

Home Security Monitor Camera

A terrific home security app with a ton of great features, Master App Solutions’ Home Security Monitor Camera is a must-have for parents hoping to keep their home safe and protect their children and belongings. The app supports live, full-screen video monitoring-- coupled with terrific audio-- from an unlimited number of camera units in, or around the home. The app supports two different monitoring devices, so it is suggested that you keep one with you wherever you go, and another mounted somewhere central in the home.

There is no range limit on monitoring your camera units, so you can keep tabs on your home from anywhere using this app, even halfway across the world.

The app comes with a number of features designed to troubleshoot or notify you in case of a problem: if the battery status dips below 10% on any device, an alert will be sent to you, while if the WiFi drops out, devices can switch over to 3G (if activated).

Overall, Home Security Monitor Camera is a great budget anti-theft app.

($5.99, iOS; Free to Install, offers in-app purchases, Android)

Hidden Camera

iCam

Another great home security app, iCam allows for remote monitoring of up to 12 live audio/video feeds from your iOS or Android device. You can put the camera units in your kitchen, childrens’ bedrooms, your baby’s crib, your dog house, or any spot that you need to monitor. The feed(s) can be sent over WiFi and 3G/4G/LTE, as well.

While the app requires additional software to be downloaded from the developer’s website, the app is very user friendly and simple. Additional support for iCam Cloud (coming with a monthly subscription fee starting at $4.99 a month)--which automatically backs up logs of your feeds into cloud storage--sweetens the pot.

The app is very popular with both iPhone and Android users and has been featured on television a number of times. Don’t trust a nanny, babysitter, or cleaning lady? It’s iCam to the rescue!

($4.99, iOS, Android)

Family Organizer

Cozi, Inc.

Not a safety app, per se, but Cozi will keep you safe from forgetting your daughter’s upcoming ballet recital, or that container of blueberries from the grocery store. Cozi Family Organizer is the *best* app of its kind, bar none. The feature-loaded app gives you all the tools you need to manage your hectic schedule as a parent, from a shopping list that can be accessed by the whole family and updated on the go, to a color-coded calendar that displays everyone’s events at once, for all to see.

Also included is a to do list feature, either to use yourself to keep track of the day’s tasks, or to create a chore list for your kid, and a recipe box to store your traditional family recipes or excellent on-the-spot creations for posterity.

The app is free, but contains ads. For the best experience, the premium edition Cozi Gold is available for $29.99 a year and has additional features like a birthday tracker and a shared address book.

(Free, includes in-app purchases, iOS, Android)

That does it for our list of essential family safety apps. While they represent a collection of some of the best apps for their purposes currently available, the great thing about mobile apps is that innovations are always being made by new designers, while developers are continuously tweaking and perfecting apps that have already been released. Be sure to check back with us soon for more coverage on apps that’ll help protect your family and keep you closer together.

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Jason
 

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