If you’ve been looking at the possibility of getting your child a smartphone, chances are you’ve come across kids’ smartwatches and wondered if that might be a good option for your child too. And if you’ve considered a smartwatch for your child, you’ve probably come across a lot of different options. If your head is spinning at the thought of digesting all these options and making the best decision for your family (we’ve been there), don’t worry! We’ve rounded up some must-have info about smartwatches for kids here. So read on, friends!
Benefits of a Smartwatch for Kids
First, let’s talk about the benefits of smartwatches.
The best smartwatch phone for kids can have many of the tools a kids’ phone would have (like a fitness tracker, a timer, a calendar, GPS, and a limited number of contacts) as well as some of the security features (like limited functionality and limited number of contacts). A smartwatch may also be less likely to get lost because it’s attached to your child’s wrist—and what’s not to love about that? Smartwatches can also be less expensive than a phone.
So if you’re looking for a middle ground between no phone and a phone, a smartwatch for kids may be a good option! You’ll be able to locate your child using the GPS on their watch, and they’ll be able to contact you whenever they need. Plus, it may not be a bad idea for your child to use a smartwatch to learn responsibility by keeping track of their own schedule.
Similar to some phones designed for kids, they can be a good middle ground between no personal tech and a full-on, no-restrictions smartphone. A smartwatch for kids without a phone can give children a little freedom and ability to contact you when needed (some smartwatches let your child make calls and even text), but they won’t be exposed to many of the dangers inherent in a phone with unrestricted calling, texting, and internet access.
Risks of a Smartwatch for Kids
But like almost everything related to technology, smartwatches also have their risks, and some of these risks can be serious. For one, these watches can be a security concern. In 2017, Germany banned children’s smartwatches because many of them allowed hackers to gain access to watches’ GPS location or to listen to a child’s environment without the child knowing. Besides tracking and spying on your kids, hackers may also be able to use smartphones to send messages that look like they’re from parents.
Along with these frankly terrifying concerns, there’s the issue of data privacy. If an electronic device connected to the internet gathers personal information on your child, it’s difficult to know for sure that the information won’t fall into bad hands. These risks can be mitigated by closely monitoring privacy settings: don’t let your child’s smartwatch collect data it doesn’t need, and don’t save private information on the watch or download apps from unknown sources.
Parents should also consider whether a smartwatch, like any tech device, may lead to obsessive behavior in your child. There may be an argument to make for letting kids be kids without needing to worry about calling and texting people, taking photos, or tracking fitness goals at a young age.
What You Need to Know
Now that we know the awesome and not-so-awesome aspects of smartwatches for kids, let’s talk about what else you might need to consider.
- You’ll need cell service. You will need to connect a smartwatch to some kind of cell service, whether that’s adding to your family plan or getting a smartwatch sold by a mobile service carrier.
- Every watch has different functionality. Not all smartwatches are created equal. If you’re buying a smartwatch, make sure you find one that has all the functionality you’re looking for. Some smartwatches have GPS, some can call and message limited numbers, some have games and apps. Consider outlining some “must-haves,” and focus on finding a watch that will meet your needs.
Overall, one of the absolute best questions you can ask yourself is whether your child really needs a smartwatch for kids and if they will use the features. Kids may see a commercial for a fancy watch or have played with a friend’s but ask whether they’re away from you enough to need a way to contact you.
And finally, can we take a moment to toot our own horn? A Troomi phone locked down to basic functionality will do basically the same things as a smartwatch for kids, but a Troomi phone will grow with your child, allowing you to add functionality as your child matures—and that will eliminate the need to buy a new device in a couple years.