Safe Tween "Phone" Challenges
Updated: Aug 25
This post may contain affiliate links. When clicking these links, if purchases are made we receive a very small percentage of the sale to help keep this blog going.
C-Bear is now approaching 12...swiftly. It is so hard to believe he will be a teenager next year. Last year he began his first real activity by choice and it was golf. He loved it! He plays at the First Tee and it is wonderful. If you live in Tulsa it is especially wonderful because it is both top-notch and utterly free. They even give you clubs and you can play for $2 greens fees as a student and an adult accompanying a student.
Last summer he played in his first golf tournament. It was enjoyable and a 9-hole fairly short round. He played again in the fall with his golf buddy and those boys came in for lunch and then decided to play a full 18 holes and finish the full tournament. This meant sitting in the clubhouse ALL DAY with K-Bug. The clubhouse is rather small and she pretty much gets camped out on a device while there after all else fails. We do not use devices for entertainment often (even on 15 hour car rides). We use them as tools. Sadly, they are completely unavoidable in this day in age and so we have them and use them --I will be posting several times in the next few months about what we do for school, but more on that later. As the boys were golfing their second 9-hole round of the day we had no idea where they were or when they would finish. His golf buddy's mom, K-Bug, and myself ended up stranded in the clubhouse and the coaches actually had to leave (all other 18 hole finishers had much earlier tee times). One coach gave us a golf cart to go find the boys and hurry their game along or bring them back if they were not far enough along. We found them on nearly the 9th hole and let them finish, and they had a lovely day together, medals, and a few other things back at the clubhouse. However, it was kind of frustrating being in the clubhouse and not knowing what was going on.
Fast-forward a few months and again there was a golf event. This time it was a community service event at a food pantry. It was an awesome day for C and his buddy, but once again we ended up waiting nearly an hour because things were taking longer than anticipated.
As he has gotten older and had these events out of our control, we have seen the need to be able to communicate with him. What to do??? We began to research. We did not want to get him a phone at all. Around Black Friday 2019 Instagram started displaying ads for Gabb Wireless and it was a great idea for when we were ready to get him a phone, but we weren't. We were pleased to find that Verizon Wireless has a solution for parents in our dilemma. I am going to talk about this and Gabb Wireless (just a little of our thoughts without first-hand experience), but we ended up with the GizmoWatch from Verizon (LG manufactures it). Enter GizmoWatch
Calling GizmoWatch is essentially a phone your child wears on their wrist. You add it to your Verizon Account and after the initial purchase of the device it is only $5 a month for service. It gives you the ability to add up to 10 numbers which your child may call or receive calls. Only 10. This is done through the app called GizmoHub. Your child cannot change it. We have parents, grandparents, and the local police non-emergency line on there. It would not let us program 9-1-1 and perhaps that is for the best.
The only people your child can text are those who are both setup as guardians for the child via the app or perhaps caregivers and they also must have the app, because it messages through the GizmoHub, not through messenger or some other text app. Your child can scroll through and select canned text responses or questions or they can send voice recordings. There are a limited selection of emojis, but they are there, too. C loves to send these to me and I typically respond with another silly one. It has no internet at all, nor does it allow picture texts.
The watch has GPS. We were delighted when, last week, he and his friend got to a birthday party location and his watch sent us a notification that he had arrived there.
So, pros for us: * It stays on his wrist (we also got a screen protector for it).
* It is not changeable by the child
* It has no internet and does not get photo texts
* It is inexpensive for service (once the initial device purchase is made)
* He still has the ability to send voice recordings
* GPS...very big deal these days
Cons: * It's bulky (See the photos in this post next to my 40mm Apple Watch)
* Kids don't love them (C doesn't care since he is homeschooled and has no pressure with phones at the moment...maybe one kid at our church has a phone that we know about)
* Only available with Verizon.
* Can't dial 9-1-1 that we can figure out.
Bottom Line: It gives us the ability to communicate with him when needed, gives him a little more freedom, and is a nice first step toward a phone.
Gabb Wireless This part has been updated as of 8/25/20 and a promo code is included at the bottom of this write up...
We do not have first-hand experience with the company but it is on our radar for (potentially near) future. Their first phone didn't have GPS, which was a big negative for many. The second phone, however, was just released last month and it has GPS. It also still has no internet which is a big positive. Gabb is your basic talk and text phone. It has a camera with optional (for $5 more a month) picture messaging ability. It has a calculator, alarm, and calendar. The second phone also has bluetooth and fingerprint ID.
The phones are not terribly expensive nor is the service. The case selection is limited, but I have found cases on amazon that work for them. We expect to see more options pop up in future product launches, because we think they are onto something. Teens and smart phones are a problem. Yes, they need to learn to navigate the tech world, but handing a phone to your teen is definitely no simple thing. We believe Gabb will give parents another option to bridge this span of time where maturity is low and ability to get into trouble with phones quite high.
The we chose a Gizmowatch of the two of these choices, we can see Gabb making an appearance soon as it has more functionality for C's needs (and it has as of August 2020). Pros: * Just talk and text
* Optional picture messaging * No internet * Inexpensive * Looks like they have a smart phone
* No apps * Has a camera
* Has GPS and Bluetooth
* Can get lost easily
* Your child may balk since it isn't an iPhone, and they also may miss some opportunities to do what everyone else is doing (but this is sort of the point, too)
Prior to their second generation phone, we were definitely more pro-Gizmowatch. Now, C is 12 and he is in both golf and Civil Air Patrol. We will be likely to purchase him a Gabb phone before he is 13. He WILL have a full-blown smart phone while in our home so we can teach him how to use them as tools and not let the phone own him, but we are so thankful for this company having a device that is more of a baby step than just giving our kids the world (literally). If you want to purchase a Gabb Wireless phone and save some money get $5 off by using code HSUNPLUGGED.