The Dilemma Parents Face Over Giving Their Child a Mobile Phone
Last week, we had a power cut for almost an hour. During that time, I can’t even begin to tell you how lost I felt not being able to; turn on the kettle for a cup of tea, charge my headphones and my laptop, or start the dinner. Since it was during the day lighting wasn’t an issue, these things were just mild inconveniences – (which was fortunate because I don’t think I could locate a torch in my house during daylight, let alone in the pitch black). What really sucked was not having any WIFI! I couldn’t reply to work emails, check my social media accounts or the work ones, and my mobile phone reception fell off the radar too, so I couldn’t even call or text anyone. I joke that it was an hour of hell, but it really does highlight how we, even as parents, who worry about our children’s use of devices, are far more beholden to our own than we might sometimes realise!
Whilst being so hyperconnected has many wonderful benefits (hello ‘group video chats’ and ‘zoom workouts’ during lockdown, I’m looking at you!), it does present us, as parents, with challenges that didn’t even exist for our own parents. Nowadays we’ve all learnt to feel safe and secure only if we can be contacted and if others can contact us. We are reluctant to send our children down to the corner shop, or to the park with friends, or in some family’s cases, even to another parent’s home for the weekend without the means to be contacted by us, and vice versa. The dilemma we face in handing over a mobile phone to a child, is knowing whether they are mature enough to manage and cope with the associated responsibilities of owning a phone such as access to the internet, gaming, social media, the taking and sharing of images and videos (theirs and other people’s)…and the list goes on. You end up feeling anxious if you don’t get them a phone and equally worried if you do!
So, what is the answer? How do we support our children to become more independent, whilst also feeling confident that they are safe? How can we be sure where they are and who they are talking to, without becoming the proverbial, overbearing helicopter parent?
Having had the opportunity to review the original Spacetalk Smartwatch a couple of years ago with my son, and more recently having the good fortune to put the new Spacetalk Adventurer Smartwatch through its paces with my daughter, I can confidently say that purchasing one of these smart devices could be an absolute game-changer for you and your child.
The Spacetalk Adventurer Smartwatch
Spacetalk Adventurer is the brand new 4G mobile phone, GPS tracker all-in-one wearable, giving parents of 5-12 year-olds the ability to stay in touch with their child. Even better, it is internet-free! So, kids can’t surf the web, watch YouTube videos, chat with anyone who hasn’t been personally approved by parents, play games, install social media apps or anything else parents generally worry about!
- The 4G call and text capability on the Spacetalk Adventurer allows children to make and receive calls/SMS. It is designed to work on all mobile network operators (including virtual network operators) throughout Australia and New Zealand on their 4G and 3G network.
- The GPS location tracking allows parents to check their child’s location and location history. It uses high accuracy location technology with licensed Google Maps. When I’ve tested it with my daughter it has given the EXACT address every time!
- Like its predecessor, the Spacetalk Adventurer allows parent to set safe zones. Using the Spacetalk app parents can set parameters and receive notifications when their child arrives or leaves the safe zone.
- The app allows parents to control their child’s use of the device. Parents are able to approve contacts, set distraction-free school mode and more.
- The school mode allows parents to prohibit the child from receiving any calls or texts and using certain functions during school time. This means that if I send my daughter a text during school hours to let her know I’ll be picking her up from a different school gate, or am running a little late, that message won’t come through until 3pm when school finishes. This allows me to contact her when I need to without disrupting her learning time, or her teacher and the rest of the class.
- The emergency button allows kids to send a message to designated guardians or authorities with on tap.
- The Hi-res 5MP camera allows children to take photos and video. Children can share recoded audio, video and photos with their approved contacts.
- The large OLED screen is great for smaller children to navigate, whilst also being stylish enough for older children not to think it’s ‘childish.’ The screen has high brightness with low energy consumption, so it won’t drain the battery.
- The Spacetalk Adventurer Smartwatch allows children to check the current weather forecast, or if the child is in a different location, it allows parents to check the weather forecast where their child is. This feature has been great for teaching my daughter to take some responsibility for her clothing choices in the morning. She can check the weather and see whether she needs to take a jacket or an umbrella to school! It’s a bit of an added bonus that I hadn’t factored in.
- The fitness tracker has also proved to be a positive addition to the Spacetalk Smartwatch. Instead of asking to be dropped off at school on my way to work, my daughter is now begging me to let her walk so that she can increase her daily step count. Of course, being able to track her whereabouts on the app, and being able to see that she has arrived to school safely, gives me the confidence to allow her this extra independence. So, it’s a win-win!
- We are yet to use the stopwatch function, but I can definitely see how it can provide kids with added motivation to get involved in and measure their progress in fitness, sport and training, or just have fun with friends.
- The Spacetalk Adventurer is dust and water resistant (IP67). This means it is protected up to a depth of 1-metre for a duration of up to 30 minutes. This is a fantastic improvement on the previous model, which was splash resistant.
- You can encourage good behaviour by setting up rewards and sending a star when they reach a set goal.
The Set Up
We found the set-up instructions clear and easy to follow and had the watch up and running in no time.
It is worth noting that you will need to purchase a nano Sim card separately, with voice calls, SMS and approx. 200MB data per month. I purchased a $10 per month Woolworth Sim card. Once you have your SIM card activated and slotted into your watch, you’ll also need to download the Spacetalk app (previously MyTribe) onto your own smartphone and set up your in-app subscription. The cost of this is $5.99 per month for up to two watches, or $8.99 for up to five watches.
It’s no surprise to me that my daughter has loved having the Spacetalk Adventurer and is embracing the new-found sense of freedom and the opportunity to take on more responsibilities. It has given me the peace of mind to allow her to venture around our neighbourhood and to the shops and the park with friends, and to walk to and from school alone. If your child isn’t yet ready for a mobile phone, I can highly recommend getting the Spacetalk Adventurer as a bridging device until they are more mature.
The Spacetalk Adventurer watch RRP $349 available from the Spacetalk website is currently on sale (for the first time ever) for just $299.