Cell phone apps can help families have a safe Halloween

Oct. 28, 2011

While children are out and about this Halloween, equipped with pumpkin-shaped candy buckets or pillow cases for their candy haul, a cell phone is one of the necessary accessories to help families stay connected and keep kids safe.


Thanks to some free apps in the Android Market designed to enhance family safety, parents are just a download away from some extra peace of mind this Halloween. “As smartphones continue to add new features, it’s becoming easier than ever for parents to keep tabs on their little goblins,” notes Laurie Poellinger, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in Wisconsin.


Parents are encouraged to check out the following apps in the Android Market to help make this Halloween safe. Life 360: Ultimate Safety App: Life 360 turns your phone into the ultimate safety device, and lets you know where your family is located and when your loved ones are in need of help. The app is free in the Android Market and options for premium features, such as tracking pets, are available as well.


Red Panic Button: The free version of this app allows trick-or-treaters the option to press the Red Panic Button to automatically send out a text message with their exact coordinates on Google™ Maps to family members. So when mom texts and asks “Where are you?” a child can quickly and easily send them a map giving their exact location. Panic can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter.


Other ways parents can use cell phones on Halloween depends on their child’s age. Those with small children can pin a slip of paper with their cell phone number, along with the child’s name and address, inside a pocket or onto the costume just in case the child gets separated from the group. Those with tweens or teens can take advantage of a host of other useful features and applications. Text it in. Text messaging is a fun and easy way to keep in touch with older kids on Halloween. While planning a trick-or-treat route, parents can pre-program the cell phone with updates to send from certain points along the way. By filing messages such as “At Main and State” or “B home in 15” in the “saved” text folder, trick-or-treaters only have to press “send” when the time comes. And with U.S. Cellular having the highest network quality and network satisfaction of any national carrier, customers can quickly text back and forth with their children.


Timing it just right. A cell phone’s alarm clock is another great tool for parents. When they establish a curfew on Halloween night, parents can set their kids’ cell phone alarm clock to give them a reminder when it’s time to head home. Parents also can help their children set an alarm to ring when they’d like the kids to check in – either by calling or texting.


A picture is worth a thousand words. Many of today’s smartphones like the AndroidTM-powered, BlackBerry® and Windows® phones in U.S. Cellular’s lineup of cutting-edge devices take high-quality photos and record HD video. Children are always on the move and can easily slip out of sight in a crowd. Take a picture or video of your ghost or goblin at the beginning of the night, so that if the group gets separated and officials need to get involved, there is an accessible and accurate description of what the child is wearing. Children can also use their phones to take pictures and video of their friends’ costumes or their favorite decorations.


Safety first. Parents should make sure their kids know how to use a cell phone in an emergency. Before sending kids out for trick-or-treating, parents should teach children how to provide their location to the 911 operator, and describe it using landmarks if an address is unknown or unavailable. I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) contact numbers can be pre-programmed into the phone so that children can get help quickly.


Associates in your local U.S. Cellular store can help you program I.C.E. numbers into your phone. “Cell phones today provide more than just the ability to call and check in on your children’s location,” adds Poellinger. “We want parents to be aware of other ways that your phone can help you have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. Our commitment to supporting the community is one of the reasons we have the happiest customers in wireless.”



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