Has this ever happened to you? You’re out with your kid, maybe at the mall. You stop to look at something, and—whoa, hey!—where did she go? For me, there’s usually a brief moment of panic, followed (fortunately) by the discovery of my daughter’s whereabouts, somewhere nearby. Once, however we were in a large store and our younger daughter somehow managed to run to the back corner of the store, and we couldn’t find her until they paged us over the intercom. (It would have helped if they’d told us where they were paging us from, but I suppose they didn’t think of that.)
The Child Guard proximity alarm is supposed to help in that sort of scenario. I’ve seen similar products before and had wondered how well they work. I recently got a sample to try out from Elite Asset Protection, which sells a host of self-defense and security-related products.
The transmitter is disguised as a cute little panda bracelet with a simple Velcro strap, and the receiver has a keyring and a small clip. Both are about the size of a car remote fob. You turn them both on while next to each other, wait for the confirmation beep once they’ve matched each other, and then adjust the dial on the receiver from three to 21 feet. The child wears the panda on the wrist, and then if they wander farther than the prescribed distance, the receiver beeps at you.
In theory, this should work pretty well. Of course, it’s no substitute for keeping an eye on your kid, but it’ll get your attention if they duck behind a corner just as your head is turned. We strapped the bracelet to our daughter’s wrist and had her wander around the house while adjusting the distance dial.
In practice, the Child Guard falls short in several ways. The alert sound is a triple beep, followed by a pause, and then another triple beep. Unfortunately, the pause is long enough that you’re not sure if the child has returned to you or is continuing to get farther away. The packaging notes that the receiver will “activate with a high-pitched beep when the child’s unit is switched off or damaged.” However, when you switch off the transmitter, it’s the same triple beep you get when they’re too far away, which means you can’t tell if they’ve simply left the area or have completely turned off the unit. (And as you can see from the photo, the switch is fairly obvious and could easily be turned off.)
But probably the worst is that the proximity sensor is inconsistent. We had our daughter walk away until it started beeping, and then come back. Sometimes it continued to beep until she was much closer than the desired boundary distance. And since the dial doesn’t actually have any numbers on it, the only way to tell how far the boundary is set is to have your child walk away until the receiver beeps—and then hope that it will actually alert you at that distance instead of something more or less.
If I were to actually use this at a mall or elsewhere in public, I would probably set the dial to a fairly short distance: five feet or so, because then if I heard the alarm I’d still be able to find my daughter visually. Anything farther than that and I really would have no way to tell what direction she’d gone or if I was getting closer or farther away. Probably the only nice thing to say about it was that the bracelet is cute and neither of my daughters minded wearing it. (In fact, they thought the set was a pretty fun toy to play with, and proceeded to test it out themselves around the house.)
At $25.50, the Child Guard proximity alarm isn’t something I can really recommend. I don’t know how other proximity alarms stack up, but with the way this one works you might just be better off with one of those kid-leashes.
Wired: Transmitter is disguised as a cute panda bracelet. Won’t make you look like one of those parents with your kid on a leash.
Tired: Inconsistent performance, non-alarming alert sound. Might be more effective to put bells on your kids’ shoes.
Disclosure: EAP provided the Child Guard for review.