The kids are back at school this week. As we negotiate bus timetables and after-school activities, many parents and carers also think about whether their child is old enough to have a mobile phone – just in case of an emergency. But there is an alternative – a GPS tracking watch.
I trialled the Tic Toc Track on my daughter, 8, for four months. It proved to be an easy solution to giving her more independence while still keeping her safe. Secured to her wrist, the watch is less likely to be lost than a mobile phone. She felt proud to wear it and told her friends she had a “phone watch”.
At 8 (and a half) she increasingly wants to do things by herself. She usually catches the bus with her big brother. But on days when he has a playdate, we are hesitant to let her change buses and walk from the bus stop to home alone. She once forgot to catch the bus and we had to drive to school to get her because she was scared.
The watch acted like a placebo. It gave her and us the confidence to stretch the boundaries, knowing we were just a call away.
She says: “It made me feel less scared of changing busses because I knew if I got it wrong I could call you”.
And call me, she did. Sometimes just for fun. Other times just to feel safe.
The Tic Toc Track allows you to program six numbers into the phone. Only those numbers can call the phone and the child can only call those numbers.
This is a big advantage over a mobile phone. By locking down the contacts, you know the calls they make and receive will be to safe family and friends only. Anyone can call a mobile phone number.
The watch does not have internet access or gaming. So kids are less likely to get distracted by it. We know dozens of kids with mobile phones who have missed their bus stop because they were playing online games or apps.
One of the biggest advantages was the GPS tracking. If the bus was late – I knew it would be late, because I could see where she was.
You can set a custom alert which will tell you when they have arrived safely at school or after-school activities. Tic Toc Track also allows you to set a fence around your child. An alert will ring if they set foot outside of the designated safe area.
The watch has an SOS alarm – in case the worst does actually happen. We never had to use this, but it was nice to know it was there. The watch will update the GPS location every 20 seconds once the alarm has been pressed.
If you’re not ready for a mobile phone – this is a great solution for keeping them safe while growing independence.
– Adults can set six safe contacts
– Children can call your mobile phone from the watch
– GPS tracking allows you to see where they are
– SOS alarm
– Less likely to be lost as it is attached to them
– Ability to set a safe area of travel
– Increases independence safely
– Older kids may feel peer pressure to have a phone
– More expensive than just giving them your phone and a SIM card