Author Topic: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?  (Read 594 times)

EverythingisNew

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Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« on: November 19, 2023, 03:47:45 AM »
We want to give our 10yr old an Apple Watch for Christmas. It requires a phone plan for her to text and call us from friendís houses or sports. Is this basically a smart phone with a small screen?

Reasons we want to give her the watch:
- sometimes I donít know where she is. As she gets older her friends move around the neighborhood and switch houses. I think the watch would allow me to know where she is. It would also allow me to tell her changes of plans with activities or sports (like someone elseís parents are picking you up).
- her friends have watches or phones. Not like we need to keep up with the friends, but this makes me think that they are safe.

Reasons I am worried:
- we donít want her on social media.
- I donít want another obsessive tech item.
- we donít want her talking to her friends too often outside of face to face.
- I donít want her to think she can do risker things because she can call me. One of her friends has a watch and she is always alone in the neighborhood walking around. I think the parents feel like she is safe because of the watch but she is much riskier. I donít think my daughter will disobey rules that we make, but I also donít want her to push us for new freedoms constantly now that she feels in contact with us through the watch.

What are your thoughts on smart watches for kids?

charis

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2023, 06:40:22 AM »
Quote
- her friends have watches or phones. Not like we need to keep up with the friends, but this makes me think that they are safe.

I don't understand this comment.

Also not sure why someone would buy such an expensive watch for a kid.

Metalcat

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2023, 06:46:19 AM »
There are a bazillion watches out there with GPS tracking, why would you opt for the most expensive one??

Freedomin5

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2023, 06:55:43 AM »
DD is 9 years old and has a (non-Apple) smartwatch for us to track her whereabouts. It has a SIM, but only the people on the whitelist can call her. Parents determine who is on the whitelist via an app. I can also track where she is, and I can set map boundaries so that I get an alert if she (or the watch) moves outside the boundary. I can also set what apps are on her watch. Right now, the only capabilities Iíve allowed on her watch are to call me or her dad, to send voice messages to me or her dad, and a program that tracks the number of steps she takes each day, for which she can earn carrots to feed her ePet bunny. She only wears it when she walks next door to her friendís house by herself or if we are going somewhere where there is a possibility that she could get lost or separated from us.

Iím in China. Itís really popular here to have your younger kid wear a smartwatch, and I prefer a watch over a phone because itís strapped to her wrist and wonít get lost. Plus, itís not as expensive as a phone.

Her watch is basically a dumb phone with a touchscreen.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2023, 06:58:18 AM by Freedomin5 »

uniwelder

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2023, 06:58:55 AM »
There are a bazillion watches out there with GPS tracking, why would you opt for the most expensive one??

I'm going to guess OP has an iPhone of their own, so it helps with Apple to Apple functionality.  A used Apple watch costs about $100 or less, so its not really absurd versus the alternatives.  A new one (SE version) can be bought for $190.

EverythingisNew

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2023, 12:59:50 PM »
There are a bazillion watches out there with GPS tracking, why would you opt for the most expensive one??

We bought a SE version for $129 at Walmart but havenít given it to her yet and could return. It seems to me that adding her to the phone plan is the most expensive thing at $10/month. How much are other GPS watches that can call and text? I also have an iPhone so I think itís high quality.. plus we have 3 kids that can also share it when they go places.

Itís not about the type of smart watch, but more if itís a sweet spot between trusting that your kid is safe everywhere (currently doing) and not getting them a full phone.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2023, 01:51:10 PM by EverythingisNew »

EverythingisNew

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2023, 01:36:00 PM »
DD is 9 years old and has a (non-Apple) smartwatch for us to track her whereabouts. It has a SIM, but only the people on the whitelist can call her. Parents determine who is on the whitelist via an app. I can also track where she is, and I can set map boundaries so that I get an alert if she (or the watch) moves outside the boundary. I can also set what apps are on her watch. Right now, the only capabilities Iíve allowed on her watch are to call me or her dad, to send voice messages to me or her dad, and a program that tracks the number of steps she takes each day, for which she can earn carrots to feed her ePet bunny. She only wears it when she walks next door to her friendís house by herself or if we are going somewhere where there is a possibility that she could get lost or separated from us.

Iím in China. Itís really popular here to have your younger kid wear a smartwatch, and I prefer a watch over a phone because itís strapped to her wrist and wonít get lost. Plus, itís not as expensive as a phone.

Her watch is basically a dumb phone with a touchscreen.

Thatís good to know that the watch is more like a flip phone or a non-smart phone with a touch screen. I will set up parental controls too. I think we also wonít wear it all the time, but only if she is going somewhere outside of school. They arenít allowed at school. Do you think the monthly phone plan is worth it? Do you think it serves a good purpose for a few years? We thought about putting an AirTag in her bag for GPS but I thought the call/text feature was beneficial. Are you happy that you donít only have GPS?

Freedomin5

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2023, 02:48:58 PM »
DD is 9 years old and has a (non-Apple) smartwatch for us to track her whereabouts. It has a SIM, but only the people on the whitelist can call her. Parents determine who is on the whitelist via an app. I can also track where she is, and I can set map boundaries so that I get an alert if she (or the watch) moves outside the boundary. I can also set what apps are on her watch. Right now, the only capabilities Iíve allowed on her watch are to call me or her dad, to send voice messages to me or her dad, and a program that tracks the number of steps she takes each day, for which she can earn carrots to feed her ePet bunny. She only wears it when she walks next door to her friendís house by herself or if we are going somewhere where there is a possibility that she could get lost or separated from us.

Iím in China. Itís really popular here to have your younger kid wear a smartwatch, and I prefer a watch over a phone because itís strapped to her wrist and wonít get lost. Plus, itís not as expensive as a phone.

Her watch is basically a dumb phone with a touchscreen.

Thatís good to know that the watch is more like a flip phone or a non-smart phone with a touch screen. I will set up parental controls too. I think we also wonít wear it all the time, but only if she is going somewhere outside of school. They arenít allowed at school. Do you think the monthly phone plan is worth it? Do you think it serves a good purpose for a few years? We thought about putting an AirTag in her bag for GPS but I thought the call/text feature was beneficial. Are you happy that you donít only have GPS?

We get a free SIM card with our internet plan, so we donít pay a monthly fee. Itís not absolutely necessary for us, but there have been a few occasions when it has been helpful to get a hold of her - namely when sheís at her friendís house and we want her to come home. Iím happy we are able to call her. I like the idea of it not being your daughterís watch, but rather, a tool to be shared amongst your kids depending on who needs it. We only have one kid, so itís her watch, but we keep it in our room when itís not in use, and she doesnít see it as anything special because of its limited functionality. Apparently only being able to call your parents and track your steps is not that enticing.

My understanding is that most kids love their smartwatches because of the ability to play games, watch TikTok and YouTube videos, listen to music, and chat with their friends in group chats. Take away all of that functionality, and it becomes much easier to control usage.

Itís also much easier to buy a watch that doesnít have those functions to begin with, than to shut the functionality off, because itíll help avoid arguments about how youíre not being fair because so-and-soís parents donít have such strict controls on their watch. In our case, we just say ďsorry, we just bought a watch that does what we need. It doesnít have those extra unnecessary functions.Ē

 We actually employ the same Mustachian concepts to purchasing this watch that we do to other purchases. We bought an older model. We bought the most basic model. We didnít succumb to lifestyle/tech inflation by buying one with more features than we needed. Sheís had it for over a year, and so far itís worked out for us.

Metalcat

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2023, 04:58:55 PM »
There are a bazillion watches out there with GPS tracking, why would you opt for the most expensive one??

I'm going to guess OP has an iPhone of their own, so it helps with Apple to Apple functionality.  A used Apple watch costs about $100 or less, so its not really absurd versus the alternatives.  A new one (SE version) can be bought for $190.

I learn something every day. Every apple watch I've ever seen advertised is crazy expensive, so I didn't realize there were cheaper ones.

Scandium

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2023, 01:21:53 PM »
I think the watch would allow me to know where she is.

Regardless of the cost of the watch; why is this an (unquestioned) requirement? Why is this necessary? It certainly wasn't the case for my parents, and didn't seem be to a problem (except the world is much safer now than it was back then I guess). Not to mention every other parent throughout history.. And you only mention "around the neighborhood". That's it? You need GPS surveillance for a 10 year old like some endangered animal to move around what is presumably a pretty small area? I really hate this trend. All I see is that it is the result of, and breeds anxiety for, the parents, and builds endless dependence for the kids. They're never "off the leash", and can always lean on the parents to solve any minor inconvenience. My neighbor's 12 year old was dropped off at the wrong school buss stop, 1/2 mi further away. Did they walk home (yes sidewalks)? Nope, call dad and have him pick them up. Our friend's 9 year old has this kind of watch. He calls and text them constantly, about every minor thing. If anything convinced me not to do it it's that kid.

Freedomin5

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2023, 02:20:24 PM »
I think the watch would allow me to know where she is.

Regardless of the cost of the watch; why is this an (unquestioned) requirement? Why is this necessary? It certainly wasn't the case for my parents, and didn't seem be to a problem (except the world is much safer now than it was back then I guess). Not to mention every other parent throughout history.. And you only mention "around the neighborhood". That's it? You need GPS surveillance for a 10 year old like some endangered animal to move around what is presumably a pretty small area? I really hate this trend. All I see is that it is the result of, and breeds anxiety for, the parents, and builds endless dependence for the kids. They're never "off the leash", and can always lean on the parents to solve any minor inconvenience. My neighbor's 12 year old was dropped off at the wrong school buss stop, 1/2 mi further away. Did they walk home (yes sidewalks)? Nope, call dad and have him pick them up. Our friend's 9 year old has this kind of watch. He calls and text them constantly, about every minor thing. If anything convinced me not to do it it's that kid.

I think it depends on the kid. My kid never calls or messages me with her watch.

Also, when I was growing up I didnít need a watch because there were payphones around. My parents just made sure I always had a quarter on me. Now there are no payphones. Would I rather my kid have a watch, or would I rather they go up to a stranger or into a strangerís house to use their phone? Or several strangers, cuz maybe the first few strangers might say no?

Iíd rather my kid have a way to contact me, and we teach her how to use it responsibly.

Hereís a story that happened recently. Halloween, DD went out with her friend trick or treating. DH didnít think we needed to go with her since her friendís mom was going with them. Also didnít think she needed her watch since it was just in our neighborhood, but I told her to wear it. Guess what? She and her friend ran off in the dark. Her friendís mom couldnít find them and called DH in a panic. DH called me. I tracked them in the app and determined their location then called DD to see which kidís wrist lit up. When sheís sixteen? No. Thatís overkill. When sheís 8 or 9? Sheís kind of my responsibility.

Sugaree

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2023, 02:39:06 PM »
Look into the Gizmo watch.  It's locked to Verizon, but I was able to get a single, wearable-only line through them for $15/month for my kiddo's watch.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2023, 02:36:20 PM »
You should join the Facebook group "Raising Independent Kids" and ask both this question and also for people's take on GPS surveillance of kids more generally. You will get a lot of interesting, thoughtful answers.

But if my kid ran off on purpose in the dark, they would not be going anywhere without me for QUITE SOME TIME as they obviously couldn't be trusted.

My kids are too young for all this, but I think my preference will be for a phone that they are required to answer when I call or text and not to do GPS at all. I just think it's really messed up. If I don't believe I can trust my kids to go where they say they're going to go and come back when they say they're going to come back, they won't have the privilege of going out alone. They can tell me their plans and text if they change and stick to their word. And if they don't, there will be consequences. Tracking them everywhere they go is just so weird and causes so much stress and anxiety for kids. There have been several reports of Life360 in the news lately along those lines.