CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. -

The startling sound and buzz of an Amber Alert alerted California cell phone users to two missing children from San Diego Monday night.

"A friend of mine got it on his cell phone, scared the hell out of him. I guess it made some really weird noise," said Ron Denlinger, of Cathedral City.

Sylvia Borrego said "It went off a few times. People couldn't sleep because it went off so often on their phones."

Officer Joe Zagorski of the California Highway Patrol said the alert was part of the Wireless Emergency Alerts program reached many mobile users.

The alerts look like text messages. They're free, automatic and specific to your geography. However, not everyone in the state received the memo via text message.

The CHP also used social media to spread the word to more people.

"The more people that know, the more people will be looking for the vehicle and the suspect, which guarantees a quicker and safer return for the kids," said Zagorski.

The alerts are a tech-savy attempt to keep you informed.

"I think it's neat what social media and your phones can do, it made me pay attention. It's great," said Borrego.

Cell phone users can opt-out or activate the emergency alerts by changing their phone's alert message settings or by contacting your service provider. The CHP encourages you to activate or keep the alerts activated in case of major emergencies, amber alerts in your area and natural disasters.