Author Topic: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?  (Read 2498 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.

Chris Pascale

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2023, 08:27:39 AM »
Late to the party, but I'd ask you why wouldn't you get a phone? Why would you get a phone? How does the watch fit into those answers?

Does the watch give off the same type of radiation the phone does?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwyDCHf5iCY
If so, I'd not want it on my body, or my child's.

Zamboni

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2023, 11:34:44 AM »
My 2 cents.

If you don't think she is old enough for a phone, then perhaps don't give her a watch that is in fact just a little tiny phone?

I think my apple watch only functions as a phone if the actual phone paired with it is close by. If I leave my phone behind and only have my watch, then I am pretty sure I've lost the ability to make calls with my watch, but I could be wrong.

You should know where your 10-year-old is, I agree. But don't be a stalker.
My own children have tales of older friends (~16 years old) with parents who flipped out or even called police when they did the following with a small group of friends:
1. Walked less than 6 blocks to get tacos in the middle of the day on a Sunday
2. Went to an art exhibit at a large museum (can't make that up) again in the middle of the day on the weekend. On that day the parent left several text messages that escalated into threatening to call the police if he didn't call them immediately.
3. Went to a friend's house briefly after a hockey game instead of coming straight home . . . in that case the parent actually called the police and officers showed up at the friend's home when the kid wasn't answering his phone. Not cool. Don't be that parent.

I am certain that neither my watch nor my phone work nor my airtags for tracking will work if I am off of wifi AND out of cellular coverage range. Depending upon where you live, this could lead to many false alarms. My own large college campus (you've heard of it) has such terrible cell coverage in some campus buildings that I sometimes have to move around inside the building to make a call. I think it's because the building is so large and has thick concrete. They have been improving it over the years but my office is still a dead area sometimes. And about half of my Mom's house is completely blocked from cellular coverage for some reason (we think her metal roof) and she doesn't have internet. Don't assume that your child will always be in range of a usable wifi network.

If someone actually abducts your kid, then they are probably going to immediately chuck any tracking devices out the window, btw. Just so you know.

FINate

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2023, 12:26:45 PM »
Just get a Gizmo. They're cheap ($100), durable, and made for kids. It's exactly what you're looking for: a dumb smartwatch with GPS tracking, text/call, and a few other basic functions. My kids had fun changing the screen between the 3 different wallpapers, and selecting one of the ringtones, but they quickly lost interest because there's just not much to do. The Gizmo App for parents runs just fine on both Android and iPhone.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2023, 12:29:20 PM by FINate »

Sugaree

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2023, 12:28:32 PM »
For me, it's less about the phone, and more about the tiny Internet-enabled computer in their pocket.  I want him to be able to have the ability to call and text, but everything else that goes along with a smartphone.  Would an old-school flip phone work?  Yeah, but I haven't seen one of those available in a long time.  The watch is a good compromise.

As far as having to have a phone for it to work, it depends.  Some are set up to need a linked phone and some aren't.  My kid's doesn't.  It has it's own line and phone number and while I do have an app on my phone that controls it, he doesn't have to be near it to call or text. 

charis

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2023, 01:38:39 PM »
For me, it's less about the phone, and more about the tiny Internet-enabled computer in their pocket.  I want him to be able to have the ability to call and text, but everything else that goes along with a smartphone.  Would an old-school flip phone work?  Yeah, but I haven't seen one of those available in a long time.  The watch is a good compromise.

As far as having to have a phone for it to work, it depends.  Some are set up to need a linked phone and some aren't.  My kid's doesn't.  It has it's own line and phone number and while I do have an app on my phone that controls it, he doesn't have to be near it to call or text.
Flip phones are definitely still a thing.  I just sat next to a kid at a holiday party who had one and I know one adult that has one.

SmashYourSmartPhone

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2023, 11:10:55 AM »
Would an old-school flip phone work?  Yeah, but I haven't seen one of those available in a long time.

It is not hard to miss things when you don't look for them.  You clearly haven't looked.

The downside right now is that the "old school" flip phones no longer work.  All the carriers (at least in the US - no idea about Europe) went to VoLTE in the past few years, conveniently making an entire collection of legacy phones "literally useless."  They can't even make voice calls.

But there is no shortage of supply of modern flip-type devices (or candybars).  They come in two general styles: "Old person phones" that are effectively indoor use only (they are not waterproof, dustproof, etc), and "hell for stout outdoor phones" that can bounce down a mountain and still work just fine afterwards.  Both will have a week or so of standby battery life, though turning it off when not in use obviously extends that dramatically (I typically get about 2 weeks out of mine, as I turn it off at night and when I don't need it).

They're boring.  They don't do much.  And I find them quite perfect in that nature.

EverythingisNew

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2023, 09:36:31 PM »
Wanted to updated this post now that our daughter is using the watch. We made a mistake and bought her the Apple Watch without cellular. It couldnít setup without linking it to my phone. We realized this type of watch is basically an accessory to a phone and not a stand alone device. We returned the $120 non-cellular watch and got the Apple Watch (oldest model) with cellular which was $249Ö yes I know thatís extravagant.

So how does it workÖ Iím happy we got it! We can see where she is on ďFind MyĒ. She can call/text me and it allows her to be more responsible and help me. We have all the parental controls turned on. The watch is more of a communication GPS device rather than a ďscreenĒ. I think itís a good tool for parenting older kids.

I think when people say they are against giving kids phones, they mean the screens and social media. Smart phones have that obsessive quality, but the watch is more of a communication tool. I am so happy with the watch that I think we will never need to give the kids a phone. They can do everything they need with the watch and access to a laptop at home.

SmashYourSmartPhone

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2024, 01:48:28 PM »
I think when people say they are against giving kids phones, they mean the screens and social media.

I certainly align with that.  I've no particular problem with giving a child the "family flip phone" or something to toss in a bag if they're out and around, and I've no problem with the watches other than, as you've observed, giving a child a $250 device that goes at the end of an arm often spent flailing wildly (I expect, based on the survival times of the $1 thrift store watches my son destroys, that a smart watch wouldn't last the week with him - though, admittedly, it would be easier to find when he misplaces it somewhere that made sense to him at the time).

I am somewhat hesitant with a "flip phone that is their primary device," given the browsers and such on modern flip phones and the well reported lack of self control from kids (I certainly would have been awful with a flip phone browser).  But the problem isn't fundamentally "Cellular communication device."  The problem I have is the entire ecosystem around the content consumption device (or, if you're female, plenty of opportunities for "content creation" as well, to your own short and long term detriment).

Thriftybugger

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2024, 04:26:37 PM »
Just a few things on kids and apple watches. (I have two with two watches) Disclosure - bit of an apple fanboy:)

1) A lot of the other watches are crap - or have flaky cellular data, reporting to PRC etc privacy - perhaps I'm wrong on this.
2) You don't need to get a plan with your carrier - there is a work around - legal but little know - I pay $10pm per plan and have prepaid $15pm cellphone plan - I'm a cheap bastard
3) Never buy a new watch - get it on backmarket.com - no affiliation,  but they have some good deals - Series 5 Cellular for $156 with 1 year warrantee (caveat may be they can't go to swimming practice with it as its been open up and they don't warrantee this type of use) normal swimming or showering is ok I think.
4) If you give them a phone it opens up the apps and all that nonsense. 
5) they can listen to Apple Music with BT headphones
6) you can lock it down during school hours so they can't use it
7) no games on Apple Watch or Youtube. (well you can download one app that plays video and another that has simple game but they are not standard programs


Flip phone may be good idea but no iMessage or tracking etc. No tracking kind of defeats the purpose.

And let's not forget there biggest use of your iPhone in the future when they get an iphone - to find that lost iphone!
« Last Edit: February 12, 2024, 06:05:04 PM by Thriftybugger »

SmashYourSmartPhone

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2024, 10:17:52 AM »
Flip phone may be good idea but no iMessage or tracking etc. No tracking kind of defeats the purpose.

What is the "purpose"?  A GPS tracker leash on your kids, or the ability for them to call in random situations when they'd need to call?  Because a flip phone is fine for the second, lasts a week on standby, months if it's mostly turned off.

Quote
And let's not forget there biggest use of your iPhone in the future when they get an iphone - to find that lost iphone!

Ew.  "Psst.  Hey.  Wanna come try something?  First one's free!  Over here..."

Or just not get into the "ecosystem" in the first place.  It's a trap.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2024, 10:21:44 AM »
Pierce your kid's ear so you can easily attach a tracking tag.  They do it with bears in the wild and it works great (and bears can scratch their ears much harder than most children).  All the benefits of constant big brother surveillance of the child with none of the drawbacks of a smart watch.






You're welcome.

Thriftybugger

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2024, 10:54:57 AM »
Flip phone may be good idea but no iMessage or tracking etc. No tracking kind of defeats the purpose.

What is the "purpose"?  A GPS tracker leash on your kids, or the ability for them to call in random situations when they'd need to call?  Because a flip phone is fine for the second, lasts a week on standby, months if it's mostly turned off.

Quote
And let's not forget there biggest use of your iPhone in the future when they get an iphone - to find that lost iphone!

Ew.  "Psst.  Hey.  Wanna come try something?  First one's free!  Over here..."

Or just not get into the "ecosystem" in the first place.  It's a trap.


Your handle says it all and I'm sure you don't have kids either - put your tinfoil hat back on and go back to your Y2k bunker mate!

Thriftybugger

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2024, 10:59:02 AM »
Pierce your kid's ear so you can easily attach a tracking tag.  They do it with bears in the wild and it works great (and bears can scratch their ears much harder than most children).  All the benefits of constant big brother surveillance of the child with none of the drawbacks of a smart watch.

You're welcome.

Hmm, off our meds today are we? Interesting replies - super helpful. 

SmashYourSmartPhone

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2024, 11:50:19 AM »
Your handle says it all and I'm sure you don't have kids either - put your tinfoil hat back on and go back to your Y2k bunker mate!

Funny.  I was pretty sure I had two kids, both grade school age.  Neither one has a phone, though we're reaching a point where I'll probably put a SIM card in a flip phone I have laying around (not my daily carry one, another one I'd experimented with - wasn't suited to daily carry, but is fine for family use) for them to share as needed.  It wouldn't be bad to have a "house line" either that people can give out if they're over at our house with phones silenced or turned off - "In case you really need me, this # will ring through" sort of thing like we all used to do.

I'm trying to think of kids/teens in my general social circles that have cell phones, and I really can only think of one.  Even the teenagers I know (young to mid teens) don't have their own phones, they use the "family phone" if needed when they're out and about.  I'm sure a few others have them, but they don't pull them out on any regular basis.  I'd guess that most of the >16 year olds I know have their own phone, but certainly not all.  Smartwatches are a tiny bit more common, but I mostly see them on adults.

I certainly don't feel the need to track my kids constantly, and I think it's exceedingly unhealthy for kids to grow up in that sort of environment, where it's simply expected that they're always tracked, monitored, logged, behaviorally collected, and that sort of rubbish.  I try to poison my kids against that - "Spot the couples on a date at restaurants staring at their phones instead of interacting with each other" is a fun hobby, and we're very much a paper book sort of family.  I've been moving away from the e-ink readers as well over time, back to paper form books.

In any case, I don't think a watch remains as bad as a phone, but to give kids a watch as a gateway drug into a phone ecosystem seems absurd to me.  The data is long since in on the impacts of phones on teenagers, and it's an absolute horror show of a train wreck.  I have great hope that the generation currently growing into teenagers will (and is) rejecting that sort of rubbish, having seen what it did to the previous generation, and also to the boomer relatives who have turned into disturbing zombie screen slaves.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Is a smart watch the same as giving my kid a phone?
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2024, 09:45:37 PM »
We had a Gizmo watch.  It was less expensive than other options, and it covered the communication piece for a while.  Itís big and bulky and not their favorite thing to deal with.

We had an Apple watch.  DD fell on the playground and scratched the heck out of it.  It continued to work for a while and then stopped.  With the scratches, no warranty.  So there went almost $300. We didnít replace it.

Two DDís have phones now.  DS is a couple years away (and given how tech sucks him in, it may be another Gizmo watch!).  Having comms with our kids is fantastic, and itís fun for them to engage with their friends.  We talk a lot about responsible behavior.  Weíre into their phones periodically.  We have software to manage certain access.  (Sometimes I feel like an IT guyÖ. Iím not.)  Theyíve been responsibility.  But Iím glad weíre waiting until 7th grade.

Bottom line:  No, smart watch is not the same as giving your kid a phone.  Depending on the watch, it can be very tightly controlled. However, get the most robust, impact-resistant, waterproof device you can ó kids are destructive little beasts.