CHILD MONITORING DEVICES IN MCS
an article by our site
In order for your MC to work properly for all the adults and all the children, (depending on the ages of the children) certain types of monitoring devices may be important to the success of your MC. The purpose of this section is to alert you to various types of devices available at the time this website was written (2012-2015) and to show how they can be used in an MC. It is not unlikely that you know of newer and more appropriate alternatives for your situation.
The use of child monitoring devices is not new. Before MCs, families often installed a device containing a microphone and transmitter in the baby's room so that Mom could be in another part of the house with her portable receiver and hear if baby was crying or waking up. This would give Mom more freedom to do her own things while baby slept, and yet she could still be right there if baby needed her.
While this has been advantageous for normal family living, giving Mom a tiny bit of time and convenience here and there, it would never be something you would want to solely rely on for space-giving in an MC. Mom needs time alone, time with adults, time in her nonmother role, as well as time with baby. She needs time when someone else is responsible for baby, whether baby is sleeping or not.
Certainly these monitor-receiver set-ups can be used by MC caregivers to monitor sleeping children, to monitor a young child playing alone or playing with a friend or even to monitor an ill MC member of any age. However, these devices should be removed from the young one's rooms when the youngster is old enough to communicate and mobile enough to move in and out of the room—in other words, when the child has enough self-sufficiency where complete privacy would not be a danger. The choice of privacy is a fundamental human need.
There are GPS (global positioning satellite) and RF (radio frequency) tracking devices to keep track of your child’s whereabouts. There's also the Toddler Tag Child Locator to find your kid in a crowd from up to 150 feet away.
WorldTracker GPRS is one powerful tracking device: small, lightweight, and an ultra high performance GPS receiver make the WorldTracker GPRS the most powerful tracking around. This device works reliably both indoors and out, and has some of the best web-based location reporting around.
Amber Alert GPS is a relatively inexpensive solution that can track indoors and out, and it has an SOS button to call for help. Elders as well as kids can be tracked.
Most audio devices have one "home" unit that plugs in, while the rest of the system is portable. Video devices tend to require wire connections between the camera and the monitor, and use house current.
So, baby monitors that most of us are familiar with can be used in MCs similarly to how they've always been used, and can help make some kinds of caregiving easier and more convenient. However, there are several other ways these devices and other communication and monitoring devices can be used in MCs.
You have read about "adventuring" (kids walking around their MC unattended) and about giving all young people appropriate choices all the time. And yet without having some way of locating the youngster throughout the MC walkway system, it would not be safe or secure for the very young to wander unattended between homes and the caregiving center (usually located central to the group of MC buildings).
As soon as young ones are mobile, the world opens up to them, and what they want to do is explore/adventure. And what most parents don't want them to do is:
- get into something they could hurt
- get into something that could hurt them
- get lost
Impossible, you say. Not so. We have talked about how MCs give every MC member exploratory freedom and choice. We never said "except when a crawler or a toddler wanted to go off on his or her own." So how do we make it safe? We make it safe by using monitoring devices, fences, rails, gates, temporary ramps rather than steps, PSBs, locks, door-closing devices, caregiving schedules, and common sense.
There are more and more devices on the market every day, from the simple audio monitor-receivers mentioned above to sophisticated video monitoring systems. There are many monitoring devices now that work with smart phones. Apps exist that connect to kids, whether the kids are at home or out and about. You can use any of these in the connecting passageways between MC homes and the caregiving center. With one system or a combination of systems, you can attend your child without being right there. This doesn't replace assigned caregivers, of course. We're not suggesting substituting electronics for caregiving. These electronics can simply provide a means to allow a child to be independent AND be monitored. There are GPS (global positioning satellite) and RF (radio frequency) tracking devices to keep track of your child’s whereabouts. There's also the Toddler Tag Child Locator and other devices.
However, you can also let your child freely adventure throughout the walkway system. The walkways, by their nature, are inherently safe for even the smallest child. Your child might like to wander or might go off and explore a friendship behind one of the MC-neighbors' doors that the walkway connects to, or s/he might end up at the caregiving center. A phone call from an adult at your child's stopping place can easily let you or his/her assigned caregiver know where s/he is. If s/he's a wanderer and just likes exploring endlessly through the walkways, you or another caregiver will easily be able to locate him or her with the monitoring system your MC has set up, and will also be able to phone on his/her behalf (after checking PSB status of) the potential friends s/he is going towards.
You can watch your child go next door or to daycare through a video monitor in your home that receives signals from cameras placed strategically throughout the walkways or solely at doorways. Inexpensive video systems consist of a mounted camera with a wide viewing angle plus a small (4.5") portable monitor. When you see the caregiver greet your child, you can go about your own business—you know your child has reached a specific destination.
A security camera
There are devices that can be attached to the child and will give off signals to the receiver when certain things happen, like the child wandering a certain distance from the receiver mechanism, or the unit coming off or getting submerged in water. (Obviously, if an MC has a pool, its access will be totally child-proofed so that little ones can not get to it without an adult accompanying them.) The Angel Alert Child Distance Monitor is one example.
Another type of device an MC could use is a radio-operated paging device, just like those that businesses use to contact "off-site" employees. The only problem with using such a device for very young children is that the child must respond to either a beep, a vibration, a voice communication, or a coded message. And the caregiver would not learn the location of the child in the process. A telephone is used to communicate to the device. Radio pagers are ordinarily rented through local businesses that have purchased access to local radio waves. The rentals range from $10 to $20 per month per pager and include the pager's phone number, air time, and the device itself. Although the devices can be purchased, the phone number and air time constitute about 90 per cent of the expense.
This is certainly an option that you could consider if the children in the MC are a little older, and are mature enough to respond responsibly to this kind of communication.
Other devices that have been around for a long time are simple intercom systems that the child-monitoring devices mentioned earlier are based on. If an intercom system was set up properly, the caregiver could not only locate a child in the walkways and hear what was up, but could also talk to him or her, and then get a response.
Walkie-talkie power is measured in watts; the higher the watts the greater the range of communication. They operate under FM. Hand-held units range in price from $64 to $75 for 300-milliwatt transmitters, which are good for a range of about one-quarter mile. (Walkie-talkies over 300 milliwatts require a license which costs about $75 and is usually good for 5 years). Most 300-milliwatt hand-helds have a switch inside where five frequencies are available, meaning five sets could operate concurrently without interference.
However there is one device (by Maxon) that is much less expensive and has five channels so that several individuals could be monitored, beeped, and communicated with from up to one-half mile away. It's like a walkie-talkie and beeper combined. It can be completely battery-operated or can utilize an optional plug-in base unit. Anyone holding one of these units can communicate with any of the other units that are on the same channel.
A Walkie Talkie
These operate under AM and the audio is often not very clear. CB's do not require a license and there is no control over who operates on what frequency. However, in a controlled environment of an MC, CB's could provide as many frequencies as needed. And there is the risk of interference from vehicles, or even from nearby MCs. CB operators can expect a fairly consistent operational range of three to five miles in an area of limited obstructions. CBs are readily available at most electronics outlets. They used to be a truckers’ domain. Today, truckers have digital gear to maintain communication such as GPS systems and cell phones, so CBs are mostly relegated to hobby status and neighborhood use in an emergency.
A CB Radio
There are many types of bugging devices that pick up sounds and transmit them, and ultra-sensitive microphones that can hear through walls. Check on the legality of using "bugs" before you install something like this for your walkways.
- 2-Camera Wireless security system,
weatherproof with night vision and digital pan, tilt and zoom. $150 bucks. This is ideal for keeping an eye on the kids in the backyard, theft
deterrence, or safeguarding your small business. Easy to install, uses secure digital wireless technology with a transmission range of up to 500 feet.
Record and save camera footage directly to your computer, or just view monitor. The 3.5" color LCD monitor can support up to 4 cameras ensuring a clear
image even at night. The included PC software is not Mac compatible.
- Dual-Band 99-Channel Walkie Talkie. $45.60 (one). (You see them used in supermarkets.) Good for up to 5 miles away.
- MobileMonitor is a cell phone tracking and monitoring software for iPhone and
Android smartphones and tablets. Once installed on the device you will be able to monitor and record all calls made and received, real time GPS location of
the mobile phone, track and record text messages (SMS), have access to the entire contacts list and media files stored on the cell phone and much more. The
MobileMonitor application satisfies all needs for monitoring, tracking, protecting and backing up the data of any smartphone.
- Toddler Tag Child Locator to find your kid in a crowd from up to 150 feet away. $30 bucks.
- WorldTracker GPRS is one powerful tracking device: small, lightweight, and an ultra high performance GPS receiver make the WorldTracker GPRS the most
powerful tracking around. This device works reliably both indoors and out, and has some of the best web-based location reporting around. Startup kit costs
$89.95 which includes your web access and activation fee. Then only $59.95 per month for UNLIMITED TRACKING.
- Amber Alert GPS is a relatively inexpensive solution that can track indoors
and out, and it has an SOS button to call for help. Track kids from Smartphone apps or computers. Elders as well as kids and driving teens can be tracked. Price with a 1-Year Contract $200 bucks.
- Securus eZoom is a small device that can be placed into your child’s backpack or permanently mounted in the car. Using your PC and smartphone, you can check your child's location, create "safe" zones that will alert you if the device leaves these areas and even monitor the speed of the car your child in which your child is riding. Price $99.99 + $19.99 monthly fee with a contract.