Smartwatches for Kids

An Opportunity for Operators in the Wearables Space?

There’s no doubt that operators have been keeping a close eye on the growing hype about wearables, dubbed the next big thing in mobile technology. However, so far they’ve only been toying with the idea of wearables — mostly with high-tech “bling” to increase footfall in their stores. They’ve yet to find a way to make money from wearable tech in the longer term that’s akin to smartphone and, to a lesser extent, tablet contracts.

Four Children’s Smartwatches

The following are GSM- and GPS-enabled smartwatches intended to help parents keep track of their kids (with a target age of between five and 10) through companion apps on smartphones, tablets and PCs. These devices pinpoint the exact location of the child as well as allowing geo-fences to be set up, which alert parents if their child leaves designated areas. Other features include the ability to call preset numbers and a panic button that sends a text with location details.


The FiLIP watch, $199 then $10 per month in partnership with AT&T.


The Tinitell “wristphone”, $149 (requires a SIM card with minutes and data subscription). The device raised $140,000 on Kickstarter in May, bettering its $100,000 goal.


The hereO watch, $149 (with a month’s subscription included, $4.95 per month thereafter) more than doubled its $100,000 goal and raised $215,000 on Indiegogo. The device is due to ship in December this year.


The Kidswatcher watch, €139 (with a €6-per-month subscription), raised just over €15,000 on Indiegogo.


These watches face a common set of hurdles that could limit their popularity:

  • The requirement for another mobile subscription contract — operators have struggled to attract tablet subscribers for this very reason.
  • With an average battery life of one to two days and uncertainty about how comfortable children will find them, it’s questionable whether kids want to use such devices.
  • Even though most people in developed countries have embraced mobiles, some parents will still be concerned about strapping radio frequency-emitting devices onto their children. The concern isn’t entirely unfounded — in 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radio frequency fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans“.


It’s too early to tell if the concept of SIM-enabled, stand-alone smartwatches will catch on, but there are some promising signs. There have been numerous successful crowd-funding campaigns for such products made for adults (the Neptune Pine and Omate Truesmart devices, for example) and there are persistent rumours that major manufacturers are working on SIM-enabled smartwatches. I remain sceptical of these types of smartwatch; the obstacles won’t be easily overcome.

However, if there’s a strong interest in children’s smartwatches in the next couple of years, operators are in a good position to make the most of the opportunity. They could help speed up the adoption of these devices by creating attractive shared plans that allow parents to allocate appropriate amounts of data, texts and minutes from their mobile contract to their child’s smartwatch.