kids

'The child safety device that my kid thinks is just for him.'

Spacetalk
Thanks to our brand partner, Spacetalk

About three years ago, I gave my then-eight-year-old my smartphone, and upgraded to a new phone. Nothing unusual about doing that – except that most parents try to avoid giving their kids a phone of their own for as long as possible.

But I didn’t have a choice. My son would visit his dad regularly, and he needed a reliable, independent way to be in contact with me. A mobile phone was the only solution.

I’ve been comfortable with that decision, for two reasons: firstly, the priceless peace of mind it’s given me, and secondly, because my son never seemed very interested in the phone other than to play the occasional game.

He’s 11 now – and yes, things have changed.

Now, he’s playing games on his mobile phone to connect with his friends. He’s started getting into lengthy group chats, and could watch hours of YouTube at a time if I let him.

He’s too young for all of that, and so his phone usage has become problematic – to me, not him, of course.

Which is why when I was asked to trial a smart watch that was designed for kids five to 12, with their safety in mind, I jumped at the chance.

Here’s the lowdown: the SPACETALK watch is a kids’ smartwatch that’s a 3G phone, watch and GPS. But while it’s a smartwatch, it’s doesn’t have apps on it, or games. Its core purpose is to maintain contact between kids and parents for things such as which side of the oval to meet after footy training.

It has no social media. No games. No internet browser. Not even a camera.

So basically, none of those non-essential items – those distractions that you get on smartphones. The risks that you get with smartphones, because kids are more exposed to the world beyond your control.

Just everything they need to stay safe.

Shut up and take my money.

OK, so that’s it in theory – how does the SPACETALK watch work in practice?

For the comparatively (as opposed to a smartphone) small price of $349, your child wears the watch, and it’s connected to your mobile phone via the All My Tribe app.

Your child can make and receive calls – and send and receive messages – from contacts you choose in the app. Unauthorised contacts are blocked. You can see their location at any time on your phone.

You are in control. As opposed to a mobile phone, where there’s limited parental control, and communication depends on co-operation from the child.

This means parental peace of mind is a huge feature of the SPACETALK watch. I know with my son now, on his phone, I have to pry him away from his group chats. I have to worry who’s saying what to whom – and who’s got pictorial evidence of that.

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The other night, my son even showed me a thread in a group chat and asked if I thought one of the kids was being bullied. I know he has to learn about that stuff at some point – but at just 11 years of age, I really feel he could do without it right now.

Neither of us would have to worry about the downside of smartphones with a SPACETALK watch.

Wearing our "James Bond" SPACETALK watches. Source: Supplied

The other feature I love is being able to set up 'safe zones' on the app, so you know your child is at the right place at the right time - no matter what they tell you.

Not that my son would ever mislead me...yet.

Having used a mobile phone with my child for so long, I can't help but compare the advantages the SPACETALK has over a phone. For that reason, I even love the fact that it's a watch that a child wears - my son has left his phone in the car, or at home, or at school, on so many occasions. This way, it would stay on him at all times - and that's another layer of reassurance for me.

The SPACETALK also has an alarm and step counter. But one of its other truly great features is that there’s an SOS button that kids can press to activate if they are in trouble. The watch sends a notification to your phone, then automatically dials your number. If you don’t answer, it goes through the contact list until someone picks up - and then you can set it to even even alert the authorities if you want it to.

As a parent, that's exactly the sort of back up you need.

It's so simple, and so user-friendly. Source: Supplied.
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So, learning about the SPACETALK watch, and setting it all up, was very exciting for me. The process was so simple. But more it meant more than that to me - it was a process of simplification.

That's music to a parent's ears - but how did my 11-year-old feel about it?

Well, he's the one who helped me set up the safe zone so he could walk from the park to school with his mates. He programmed the app with the emergency contacts he needed. And wearing the watch made him feel like James Bond - that's in fact how he answered my first call to him:

"Hi, it's 007," he said.

The thing that surprised me the most about the SPACETALK watch is that I think my kid appreciated its simplicity, too. He could just wear it, safe in the knowledge that I was still instantly contactable - but there was nothing else expected of him. No group chats, or social media. No sending or receiving of photos. No game he couldn't tear himself away from. No video he 'just had to finish watching'.

He could just be a kid.

I'm not sure that he's ready to give up his mobile phone altogether; as with many adults, it's become an ingrained habit. But I do know that if the SPACETALK watch had been around a few years ago, my son wouldn't have had to essentially grow up so fast.

The SPACETALK watch is currently available at JB Hi Fi and sold online for a RRP of $349. It requires a 3G Mobile plan on a 850/2100 MHz network such as Telstra Belong or Aldi, and a monthly in-app subscription of $5.99 per month for up to 2 watches and $8.99 per month for up to 5 watches.

Visit spacetalkwatch.com for further information.

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, SPACETALK.

Spacetalk

SPACETALK is a 3G mobile phone, GPS and watch all in one wearable device. Your child can make and receive calls from contacts you choose in the Allmytribe smartphone app. If your child needs help, a special SOS alert function can be customised to call you or other gaurdians. When wearing a SPACETALK you can see your childs location on your smartphone.
SPACETALK lets kids be kids and parents be parents.

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