A girl on her way to school, wearing her backpack and a smartwatch

Raising kids in a new era of technology: Smartwatches

In this new series, we will discuss children and technology, specifically how parents can use technology as an asset. 

Nowadays, it is impossible to avoid technology; even more so when our children’s classmates or friends have phones, tablets or smartwatches at young ages.

As a parent, I had to face the music this school year and come to a decision. My daughter was constantly asking for a phone because a classmate had one since kindergarten.

I kept denying the request, but then this year, I really had to think it through because of changes in school schedules. The ability to track her with technology and be more aware of emergencies really made me think. 

As a family, we decided on a smartwatch. I researched the various brands and specifically the features each brand offered. Here are five ways smartwatches for kids can be an asset.

1. Real-time tracking

The smartwatch for children that we chose from our phone carrier allows us to track our daughter using a real-time feature. I am able to log into the app and see her location. She is also able to check in on her watch, sending me an update on her location if I am not logged in on the app.


2. School mode

This was the biggest sell for me. As a teacher, I know how disruptive a watch can be and how some students may see it as a fun toy. The school mode setting keeps the watch off of all settings, except emergency calls. This can typically be scheduled. I have my daughter’s watch programmed to automatically go on school mode during her school hours.


3. Communication

This part was not as essential for our family, but now that we have the watch, we can see how convenient it is if our daughter goes on a playdate or to a family member’s house. She is able to call or video call us to check in.


4. Alarms/Timer

If you are working on independence with your child, this feature is great! As a parent, you can add tasks for them to complete, and the watch will alert them. They will then mark the tasks as “done” when they have completed them. The timer tool can be used to time themselves reading or doing any activity they may enjoy timing.


5. Fitness tracker

This feature was one I also was not necessarily looking for but ended up being a fun addition. It tracks my daughter’s steps and allows me to set goals for her too. In addition, it comes with other exercise tasks such as jumping.

Most of these features apply to the majority of smartwatches for children. If some or all of these features are appealing to your family, a smartwatch is worth checking out.

There are several reasons why this choice was most beneficial for our family, and perhaps can benefit yours too, but not all situations are the same. What worked for our family may or may not make sense for yours.

All in all, the watch has not been a distraction but an asset my child uses to keep my mind at ease when she is not at home. It also provides her with a sense of independence, knowing she can be accountable for herself.

In what ways have you found technology, like a smartwatch, to be an asset for kids? Let us know at @ArizonaEducator on Twitter or Arizona PBS KIDS on Facebook.

Review the other article in our series on children and technology:

 

About the author

Marissa Will is the mother of two, Olivia (6) and Logan (4). Writing was her first passion: she’s a freelance writer and a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumna. Will is currently educating the future leaders of tomorrow: She has spent the past nine years educating third grade with a master’s degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University-Yuma.

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