Our Guest Geek post this week is all about a popular topic- screen time and keeping kids safe online, especially when they start asking for their first cell phone.
Until recently, parents faced a choice – and it’s a surprising one in our modern world: On the one hand, leave youngsters with no way to call or communicate with parents; or on the other, give them a cell phone with all the challenges and dangers that come with it.
There’s plenty of reasons for parents to feel concerned when it comes to cell phones. As more research emerges about the developmental impacts of screen and social media addiction on kids, not to mention cyber bullying, internet privacy, inappropriate content online, and more – parents have been looking for better solutions.
Why should parents have to choose between helping kids stay healthy and safe, and keeping the family connected?
The growing trend in cell phone alternatives for kids
Thankfully, that has finally started to change. Parents now have a better option in kids’ smartwatches, and they’re quickly becoming a worldwide trend. In fact, over the last three years, concerned parents have driven 10%+ year-over-year growth in the First Device market. And it’s just getting started; that growth rate is expected to increase substantially from 2021-22.
But parents should know that not all kids’ smartwatches are created equal! Many devices available on Amazon are, at best, simply game watches or low-quality 2G or 3G devices that require parents to find their own SIM connection. At worst, they are insecure and leave your kids vulnerable to hacking or communication from strangers.
So what do parents need to know? Here are the top reasons parents are turning to kids’ smartwatches and what you should look for.
1) Secure 4G connection for calling and messaging
The best quality kids smartwatches come ready to go with SIM cards and easy to set up 4G nationwide connection. This means parents are now only a quick call or text message away from their little ones – which is incredible for peace of mind.
In addition, parents should look for companies with reputable websites, clear privacy statements, and quality customer service in order to make sure they are getting a reliable and secure product.
This year in particular, families feel that communication is important. As kids head back to school after studying at home during Covid, more parents are looking for simple, safe, reliable ways to stay connected with their kids – without all the consequences of a cell phone.
2) GPS location tracking
Most parents tend to worry about their kids when they are out of sight. But with the right smartwatch, parents can keep track of where they are and where they’ve been. The best kids smartwatches have a GPS tracker that sends regular, customizable geolocation pings to the parent’s phone and lets them set safe zones to be automatically alerted when kids enter or leave designated areas.
3) A safe introduction to technology
Parents today are more concerned about technology and the internet than ever before. If you’ve seen the documentary The Social Dilemma, you know what we mean. There’s a growing outcry from parents who want to push against the drift of kids getting cell phones at earlier and earlier ages – and the developmental consequences that come along with it.
The simple beauty of a kids smartwatch is that it’s made for kids – not just adult technology with parental controls slapped on top. The best kids smartwatches prevent internet browsing, social media, or calls and messages from strangers. And they empower parents with an accompanying parent app for managing your child’s activity. Kids smartwatches are giving parents confidence as the perfect safe avenue to introduce healthy technology habits.
4) Incentives to stay healthy and active
Kids today are spending more time in front of screens than ever before. In fact, according to Common Sense Media, kids between the ages of 5 and 8 years old spend over three hours per day in front of screens on average. While some of that time is necessary for learning and good play, parents are increasingly looking for ways to help encourage kids to get outside and stay active.
The top kids smart watches include pedometers or step counters that let parents set goals that kids can track each day. These kinds of simple tools can go a long way and help families find creative ways to stay healthy together. For example, try setting a family goal for steps and picking a fun reward for the winner at the end of the week!
5) Quick communication in an emergency
Any parent’s worst nightmare is not being able to protect their child in an emergency. This may be the number one reason why many parents decide to opt for a cell phone, feeling they have no other alternative. But now, smartwatches are filling the void, and the best ones are equipped with easy-access SOS features that let kids quickly contact parents or guardians if trouble is near.
Top-tier models not only offer parents peace of mind with quick calling, but also will start auto-GPS tracking and sending location updates to the parent’s phone. These kinds of family-friendly safety features often don’t even come with cell phones, and it’s a big reason why parents are turning to kids smartwatches today.
The trend toward kids’ smartwatches is only likely to increase in coming years. Ultimately it’s more than a watch. It’s about helping parents have peace of mind and helping kids be kids! Hopefully this guide will help you to find the right device for YOUR family!
Categories: Mom Blog