I wrote a few months ago about why we decided to use an Apple Watch for communication with our 7 year old daughter. So to close the loop, it's going great! Here are a few assumptions that we got right and what we didn't.
What we got right
- A watch is a great form factor to encourage minimal communication. I wondered if she'd be "hooked" to her watch texting friends. She's not!
- Overall the $10/mo for a cellular plan for a watch is a great stepping stone into getting a phone for a kid. Easy on the budget.
- Getting an Apple Watch with the Family Watch feature is fantastic. The setup was an absolute breeze. I did the entire setup without calling Verizon. Managing settings from my iPhone is 💯, and iMessage works super well with her iPad. However to change settings on the Watch, it must be on the same wifi network, even if it's a cellular Watch. That was an issue early on when I was still adjusting settings like Schooltime and Screen Time.
- Schooltime has been pretty darn great. No issues from teachers. However if you need to pick up your kid from school early, be sure they know how to temporarily disable Schooltime so they can check for texts or make a call.
What we got wrong
- Kids don't care about fitness! I laugh at this realization because it's humbling. I obsess over its features and tech, but a kid doesn't really care about their watch unless it's for a phone call.
- Reminding a child to charge their watch becomes as repetitive as asking them to clean their room. We try to form the habit, around brushing teeth and getting ready for bed. But I don't make a big deal anymore. If I see it, I will succumb to my nerdy purpose in life and put the watch on the charger. I'd rather do that then have her learn the hard way and have no juice the following day. (The watch is for us, not her after all.)
Every time I hear of another kid complaining about their no-name sMaRt WaTcH, my decision to go with the Apple Watch is reinforced. It's a fully completed feature, and Apple's ecosystem of services like iMessage, iCloud, and Cellular setup process really makes this new feature an easy recommendation for any families looking for a way to stay in touch with their little ones, without opening the kimono of a full blown iPhone.