If there is something that has made a major change in our lives compared to a decade ago, it is the mobile phone. Now, it is the era of smartphones.

Smartphones that are available now are so smart that it is difficult to get lost in a city if you have one, or they can also help one track their friends, relatives or children, or even track just the phone, if it has been lost.

It is not difficult to find even school children with phones. Most of them are basic phones. Parents believe children don't deserve smartphones, but the reality could be different. Smartphones have security features that can give parents peace of mind.

The fear of misuse is also one of the reasons behind the hesitation in buying smarphones for children. Though it is true to some extent, smartphones are, in several respects, safer than ordinary mobiles, and can help a lot to keep the kids safe. With kidnappings and ransom demands reported almost every day, it is natural that parents are concerned when they have to send their children to excursions or other classes. A delay of even a few minutes can send parents into a tizzy.

Apps

If something serious such as abduction happens, the few hours till the child is located can be quite traumatic for parents and others. Even in normal circumstances, keeping track can be a tedious process for parents if the child goes to several classes.

Here's where smartphones can help, in an unobtrusive manner. All mobile platforms have built-in apps that can show where a particular mobile is, at any point of time. The person with the mobile can be tracked through a desktop PC, with a map showing the exact location of the person.

There are also apps that can track several family members at the same time. It doesn't matter which operating system your mobile has. A search for ‘GPS', ‘GPS tracking' or ‘track phone' will give you a list of apps.

Some may have a moral dilemma here. Is it proper to spy on your children? Isn't it violating their privacy?

Tracking software

Spying may be wrong, but there is nothing wrong in keeping track of children. A year ago, a parent received a call from his daughter's school that she had not been coming to the school for more than a week. The parents were concerned as she left home every day at the correct time for school.

There was no response when they called her on her phone.

Using the phone tracking software, they found out the area she was, and when they reached the place, they found her sitting in a bus stop. She had not gone to school as she had done badly in her class tests and was scared to face the teachers.

If you have no kids, you can use the software to find where your friends are. Or just use it to track a phone if it is lost.

Most security apps have the ability to lock phones — making them unusable without a security code. They can also wipe all the data, so that the phone numbers you have stored and the pictures of your loved ones don't get into wrong hands. Some apps also raise an alarm — all from a desktop computer.

Some software even have the ability to take snaps — both from the front and the back cameras, again from a computer, which can help a lot in knowing about the location. Some apps even have the ability to initiate a call from the phone — again from a computer far away.

Which means that even a GPS-based phone security app is enough to keep track of the child. The app is free, and can be controlled from a computer at home or office....but, is there a catch?

Yes. The GPS has to be on if you want an accurate location. Keeping the GPS on means drain on the battery. There are apps that can use the network to track the phone, without the help of GPS, but the location accuracy will be less.

Installing a tracking / security software can give a peace of mind to you. Knowing where the phone is, or wiping the data remotely can save a lot of hassle.

A guy who had lost his phone rang up his friends and asked them to find out the location of the phone. They found that the phone was ‘moving' a few kilometres away from where the guy was. The guy took a cab and reached the place, could not locate the phone as the street was crowded. He informed a passing cop about the lost phone and asked his friends to activate the alarm in the phone. The thief was caught red-handed when the alarm sounded.

Entry-level phones may not burn a hole in your pocket, but a smartphone, with all the conveniences that come with them, can make your life more peaceful.