Smartwatches for Little Kids: Yes or No? Cybertraps 137

  • News Item: A recent New York Times article reports that an increasing number of parents are buying Apple watches for elementary school kids

  • Smartwatches for children are a booming sector of the tech market

  • Hundreds of different models with a range of features

  • Some smartwatches are tied to particular cellular companies, others are “unlocked”

  • A 2020 survey showed that 31% of American teens owned a smartwatch, compared to 21% of adults

  • Features and Selling Points of Smartwatches

  • Limited apps / less distraction than phones

  • Voice calls and basic texting (with cellular connectivity – typically part of family plan)
    • Importance of Communication with Child for Schedule Changes, Emergencies
  • Location tracking by parents

  • Geofencing for alerts

  • Can help delay requests for smartphone

  • Some watches come with apps to help with time management and to encourage physical activity

  • Apple introduced “Family Setup,” which gives parents the ability to supervise a range of data on the phone and limit notifications

  • Smartwatch Issues to Consider

  • Cost

  • Durability/Fragility of Device

  • Maturity / Development of Child
    • Plan time to educate child on using device
    • Will child wear it every day?
  • Battery / Power management

  • Brand Capture

  • Safety and Etiquette
    • Teach children to avoid distracted walking
    • Don’t be distracted by watch when interacting with other people
    • Understand risks of strange messages or calls
  • Privacy
    • Is the child’s information on the watch protected?
    • Does the watch company comply with COPPA?
    • Does the CHILD understand that his or her location is being tracked? Transparency is important.
    • If smartwatch has a camera, child needs to understand privacy boundaries for themselves and others
  • How Are Schools Reacting?

  • Generally positive

  • Fewer restrictions than smartphones

  • Less distraction

  • Recommended Brands

  • Verizon GizmoWatch2 (~ $100)

  • TickTalk4 (~ $190)

  • Xplora X5 Play (~ $200)

  • Apple SE (~ $300)

  • Resources

– #2022–09–01 How tech can help keep your kids safe at school
– #2022–09–01 An Apple Watch for Your 5-Year-Old? More Parents Say Yes.
– #2022–08–31 The Best Smartwatches For Kids (And Parents) To Stay Connected
– #2022–08–30 Smart watches in schools, do they make kids safer?
– #2022–08–23 Best Smartwatches for Kids
– #2022–08–06 The 6 Best Smartwatches For Kids To Help Keep Them Active, Connected, & Entertained
– #2022–08–03 EARLY YEARS: Smart watches for kids could be smarter, safer alternative to cell phones
– #2021–10–26 The Best Smartwatches and Phones for Kids
– #2021–09–16 The Best Smartwatches for Kids, According to a 9-Year-Old and His Mom

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