Parenting & Family

Experience with smart kid watches anyone ?

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 20th, 2021 7:09 am
[OP]
Newbie
Jun 7, 2021
6 posts
5 upvotes

Experience with smart kid watches anyone ?

Hi everyone,

I am trying to find a reliable and functional smart watch for our 12 year old - other than Apple and Samsung which are out of the question because of the prohibitive price. I've spent countless hours trying to figure out how this all works, and it is so overwhelming - they are either not supported by Canadian carriers, or they are too bulky, or too unreliable, too expensive, too cheaply made, semi anonymous third-party data collection issues, everything under the sun.

I wonder if anyone else has researched this, and what have you decided on? Anyone using one of these watches to their satisfaction ? Anyone with a good recommendation for what works well here in Ontario? Which watch and which carrier/ plan would you recommend? We need GPS tracking and 2-way voice calling at a minimum. Nothing too gimmicky. We just want to give our son a way of communicating with us if need be, and we don't want to go into the cell phone business just yet.
7 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 7, 2012
1397 posts
758 upvotes
TORONTO
Sounds like you need a true smart watch like the Apple Watch or Samsung.

I personally don't know of any other 'cheap' smartwatch that includes GPS and 2 way voice calling. Those are big things to ask for to be cheap. I was going to suggest a VTech watch but I don't believe they have cellular/gps included. Maybe look into older generations of Apple Watches. They are cheaper and may be able to support what you want to do.
Deal Addict
Jan 2, 2015
2474 posts
2215 upvotes
NOT centre of Univer…
It's not exactly what you asked for but, if this was around before my kids had phones, I would have used it because the bus kept losing my kids or getting them lost (not my kids getting lost, but the driver would get lost and drop them off at the random location and tell them to walk).

https://www.livelifealarms.ca/

I have one of these for my dad who is senior that cannot use a smart very well. It has a GPS locator which you can check at any time, there is two way calling. You can program 5 numbers (in sequence) and if there is an emergency, a text will go out to all the numbers, and it will dial in sequence until one of them picks up to (until it hits the last number). It gives you the option to call into the device and listen what is going on.

However, for a kid, there may be some cons. It has fall detection, which will send out an alert. I don't if there is a way to turn off fall detection as kids seem to fall alot. Because it's a device, it only has a speaker option. So you can't really have a private conversation. It also has an 'emergency' button which causes it to beep, I am not sure you want kid with this.

The cost is expensive up front (I think about $500, not sure now), but the yearly fee is really cheap ($45). It's cheaper than a cell plan but if its only for a short time, then it may be worth looking at another. Unless you have multiple kids that you would want to pass it down too. If they had this at the time my kids were younger, I would have bought it for them, and then given it to my dad afterwards. This only works if you have an elderly parent that you will want to give this to later. I had recommended this device to a someone who has kid with autism who wanders, and they found it very useful.
Just some thoughts.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jun 9, 2003
25088 posts
2267 upvotes
Markham, ON
Anna416 wrote: Hi everyone,

I am trying to find a reliable and functional smart watch for our 12 year old - other than Apple and Samsung which are out of the question because of the prohibitive price. I've spent countless hours trying to figure out how this all works, and it is so overwhelming - they are either not supported by Canadian carriers, or they are too bulky, or too unreliable, too expensive, too cheaply made, semi anonymous third-party data collection issues, everything under the sun.

I wonder if anyone else has researched this, and what have you decided on? Anyone using one of these watches to their satisfaction ? Anyone with a good recommendation for what works well here in Ontario? Which watch and which carrier/ plan would you recommend? We need GPS tracking and 2-way voice calling at a minimum. Nothing too gimmicky. We just want to give our son a way of communicating with us if need be, and we don't want to go into the cell phone business just yet.
yeah...the only real option is Apple. Dont waste your time with anything else for a teen. A cellphone is actually a better investment....watch is only an accessory.
[OP]
Newbie
Jun 7, 2021
6 posts
5 upvotes
Thank you all for your suggestions !
[OP]
Newbie
Jun 7, 2021
6 posts
5 upvotes
I wanted to follow this up in case anyone else in the future needs this info like I did. So after much research I've concluded that yes, as someone mentioned earlier, Apple watches are the only way to go if you want a reliable device with functions such as gps, geofencing, phone service etc. Further to that I found out that in Ontario only Telus and Bell offer the Family Setup option. Without Family setup you can not do anything that you'd like to with the watches you buy for kids, you can't even activate them apparently, as I had tried. You can not download Family setup on any other apple device, other than the Iphone, and it has to be Iphone 6s or higher.

I would not recommend going with Bell - they are quite unknowledgeable about the product or the service. I've spoken to many of their sales and customer service reps over the last 2 weeks, and nobody gave me the complete information I needed. This meant I spent hours on the phone, had to go to the physical store twice, only to learn that the watches are not true stand-alone devices as they advertise. Rather, you have to have an iphone for the standalone watches in order to manage them, and it has to be with the same carrier.... Long story short I now have an Iphone (which was not the plan, but ok) and I had to return the watches ordered from Bell and order new ones from Telus who I have an account with, in order for any of this to work out. At least Telus has some safeguards in place. For example, I was not able to order the watches until I had an activated Iphone on their carrier. So, the moral of the story is that even though the generation 4 watches are advertised as stand-alone , they still depend on iphone on the same carrier to activate and manage them, even if they have their own phone numbers.

For some folks who have experience with Iphones this may be common knowledge. For us who've been on android the whole time, this is all quite confusing. The need for a complete apple ecosystem that is required for anything to work properly feels like a hostage situation a bit, but I guess there are no other solid options really so it is what it is.

Anyway, thought I'd post the experience here for other people's future reference.
Sr. Member
Nov 18, 2004
558 posts
209 upvotes
Toronto
Found your thread because I was looking for options for our 11 year old who has started walking to and from school. We are considering a flip phone (we don't want a smartphone as it will be a distraction in school and all the other trappings of having a smart device with apps). I understand I can lock a device down, but at this time we are still looking at alternatives (we have old iphones hanging around that could be repurposed).

Other than the 4gX (wish that was around while my mom for my mom years ago) and an apple watch, have there been no other products developed for this market? I see this as a miss on the part of carriers to 'add a line' to families earlier -- they seem only focused on smart phones which I understand as they are so addictive.

Thanks!

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