Parents who are researching options for their kid’s “First Device” will inevitably stumble across the term “Dumb Device”.
Whether it’s “dumb phones,” “dumb smartwatches,” or “dumb GPS trackers,” the message is the same — these devices have extremely limited functionality.
But the term “dumb” can be misleading.
In fact, the genius of these new kids’ connected devices is, in part, that they are designed to shield kids from the harmful functions of technology that saturate adult devices. So let’s explore Kids Smartwatches: Dumb Devices or Brilliantly Simple?
From screen and social media addiction to cyber stalking, privacy invasion, identity theft, and worse, the dangers of everyday technology are more real than ever.
Today, a kids smart watch that can’t is actually achieving something incredible.
The data show that parents are catching on; over the last three years, parents have driven 10%+ year-over-year growth in the First Device market.
And it’s just getting started; that growth rate is expected to increase substantially from 2020-2021.
Maybe a “dumb” device is actually a brilliant breakthrough?
The Case for Kids Smartwatches and GPS Trackers
Apple announced in June of this year that it would be introducing bold new privacy features on its upcoming iOS.
For many consumers this was welcome news, if maybe a decade too late in coming.
The devices we all use have quietly been gathering volumes of data on us for years. This data has been used to sell trillions of dollars of goods and services.
The cost? Our privacy, our security and possibly our sanity. Some would go so far as to say our democracy and our national security as well.
Kids deserve better than what we adults have tolerated.
They deserve a device that is not feeding their data into a marketing algorithm to sell them fruit loops, video games and college degrees. More than that, kids deserve real, meaningful cyber safety.
For years, kids have used smartphone apps and social media accounts to bully and harass other kids.
Statistics about teen suicides related to cyber bullying are shocking and tragic. And yes, the bullies are the perpetrators, but big tech companies are the facilitators.
Parents who grew up with the internet and connected devices are all too aware of the dangerous virtual world to which they will eventually have to introduce their kids.
It is voracious and intimidating, even for the most tech-savvy parents.
So, before writing off dumb devices, consider first this central achievement: they don’t compromise on child safety. That is more than can be said of a $1,000 smartphone.
Smart Watches for Kids Are Packed With Features
Consumers are primed to look for the next flashy piece of technology.
In the U.S., electronics are a kind of status symbol and waiting overnight in line for a new phone is the first time many Americans go camping.
Which is exactly why calling kids devices “dumb” may cause some to question this important new category, thinking it means slow, glitchy, analogue, clunky or cheap.
But none of those adjectives define the leading kids smartwatch or cell phone brands in the U.S.
In fact, for a relatively young product category, the level of sophistication is impressive. Consider a few of these features:
Smartwatches with video chat
Your $500 smartwatch can’t do it, but the newest kids smartwatches on the market come with a front facing camera and video chat enabled software. Best of all, it’s a feature that’s limited to the contacts that parents approve.
COPPA and beyond
Child safety experts have argued for years that COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, passed in 1998) needs to be updated. Kids devices, like the JrTrack smartwatch manufactured by COSMO, are designed with COPPA compliance baked in from the foundation.
Agile safety features
Geo-fencing, SOS calling, GPS tracking, location history, restricted calling and numerous other parental controls form the foundation of the best kids device software. Compiling a similar suite of features on a smartphone would require numerous apps and would still not be as secure.
The list of “smart” features that come standard on these “dumb” devices are extensive – and best of all, they’re only getting better.
With a greater appreciation for these feature sets, non-U.S. markets purchased 40 million connected kids devices last year alone.
But here in the U.S., where tech aficionados get hung up on bezel sizes and color tones in camera settings, we’re still catching up on the huge potential of this simple product category.
Still, demand for something — anything — that is safe for kids is driving consumers to look beyond the punditry about First Devices. Yes, they are simple compared to our tablets, smartphones and laptops.
But in a refreshing way, they don’t make the same compromises that have hooked us on those bright, colorful screens.
When it comes to electronics for kids and families, it’s time to rethink what we know and stop judging them by the same standards we have used to judge similar adult products.
When it comes to kids’ devices, the old cliché “It’s what’s inside that counts” needs an inversion.
In fact, it’s what’s not inside that counts.
If you enjoyed Kids Smartwatches: Dumb Devices or Brilliantly Simple? then you will find these articles useful; Family Influencers: The Real Reason They are Taking Over The Internet, 10 Signs Your Child is Addicted to Their Mobile Device and Developing the Right eLearning Study Habits.