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Halloween: There’s an app for that

For prents sending their children out alone Thursday for Halloween, a few cellphone apps might help put their minds at ease.

There are apps as simple as a flashlight to illuminate a dark sidewalk, and as complex as a panic app to alert adults of trouble.

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Chad Fajkus, Verizon store manager at the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls, said adults and children alike are excited about many apps available for both Apple and Android phones.

Before smart phones, children had to make or receive calls to check in with parents. Now, there’s an app to eliminate calling or texting.

“I really like Life360. This is for both kids and parents,” Fajkus said. “I’d recommend downloading this one.”

The free app allows children carrying smart phones to click one button and check in with parents while trick or treating. It sends an automated message, “I’m checking in,” and the GPS location.

“Kids really like it because they don’t have to talk to Mom or Dad,” Fajkus said. “Parents really like it because they know where their kids are at and can check it anytime to see where the kids are.”

Kids can also alert friends who have the app about certain trick-or-treating locations — maybe somebody who’s handing out full-size candy bars — and send them the GPS location.

The Flashlight app is simple and allows children to carry fewer things while trick-or-treating. The free download uses the flash on a camera phone and takes one touch to turn on and off.

To prepare for Halloween, and for the worst-case scenario, parents can enter their children’s information into the free FBI Child ID app, which was created by the government, Fajkus said.

It logs information like the child’s name, date of birth, height, weight and picture in case a child goes missing. It also offers safety tips for parents on how to keep kids safe, not only on Halloween, but year-round.

“You can also dial 911 directly from the app,” Fajkus said.

Users can also dial directly to the Center for Missing Children using the app.

Here are some other child-safety apps, available for both Apple and Android phones, to use on Halloween and year-round:

  •  Panic Button: $2.99

This is an emergency feature. If children are in trouble, they can press the red Panic Button app and it sends a text and email to chosen contacts with a link to Google Maps with GPS coordinates.

  •  Family by Sygic: Free

This app uses GPS to provide real-time locations of others who have the same app. Parents can install this app on their phone and their child’s phone, set a boundary for their children and see if they go outside that boundary. They can also set unsafe zones and see when children enter those.

  •  Mama Bear: Free

This app also allows parents to track children via GPS, but includes social media updates from the child’s accounts — photos or status updates from Facebook or Instagram.

The app can also allow parents to program a certain speed limit for their children who drive or may be riding with friends. If the vehicle goes faster than that speed, their phone sends an alert.

  •  Sex Offenders Search: $3.99

This app allows users to find registered sex-offender residences in the area.