Senior writer for WeekendNotes and Perth Mums Group. Founder of fundraisingmums.com.au
Growing up in the 1980s, kids were often sent out with little more than a cheery wave and a reminder to be home before dark. Things are different now, and whether or not there are actually more risks these days, the perception is that the world is a dangerous place and our kids should be protected.
Some of the latest Moochie designs
When I began allowing my eldest daughter to start riding her bike to school and the shops, I usually armed her with my mobile phone and I would sit by the home phone in case she called. Which she inevitably did. Before long, she began asking for her own mobile phone, but she is only nine and I don’t think she needs the distractions (and risks) that come with being fully connected.
This is why the Moochies Kids Watch is a perfect compromise. It is a mobile phone watch – allowing the child to be connected and accessible and observable – but only to certain people.
The broad appeal of Moochies is that it is controlled entirely by the parent – using an app that you download – you link your smart phone to the watch and control all the functions of the phone. You can decide which numbers the phone can call and which numbers the phone will be able to receive.
Using the app you can track your child with GPS and set up safe zones so if the child strays too far from home (or school, or wherever you set up the zone) the phone warns you they have gone too far.
One of the most safety conscious features – one you’d never want to use – is an SOS button, that when pressed for more than 5 seconds, sends an alarm to the parent’s phone and records 15 seconds of sound so the parent knows what is going on (and if it is a genuine emergency or if the kid has just sat on their watch/phone by mistake).
My daughter loves her new watch
While the Moochies watch is targeted at kids between 3 and 12, I believe it would be most suitable for the slightly older kids at least six years and older. There is no keyboard on the phone, the child simply scrolls through the picture menu to find the function (or phone number) they need – but younger children would still probably need help with this.
The watch works on a speakerphone system – the child literally speaks into their wrist like James Bond. It is very cool. Luckily, it has good quality sound both for the child and parent. As well as phone calls, the watch can also be used to send voice messages – kind of like an audio text message. The child scrolls to the ‘voice talk’ menu, presses a button and records a message. As soon as they release the button the message is sent.
The voice talk messages only work through the special app that you must download – it won’t work through your normal text message system. Up to five adults can have the app and link their smart phone to the Moochie, meaning mum, dad, grandma, the nanny and the next door neighbour all can send and receive messages to the child, and they can all monitor the child’s whereabouts. Only the main admin (mum or dad) can actually set the system up and control the primary functions of the watch.
The phone/watch actually has many more features – it is a pedometer and has an alarm function for those kids who refuse to wake up on time for school. You can set it so that kids can’t use the phone function during certain times (ie when they are at school) or you can program the watch so that it automatically answers every call (perfect for little kids being babysat). Moreso, you can set it so that it only answers pre-approved numbers (up to ten) or you can allow it to receive ‘stranger calls’ which would be useful for older kids who might be going for a play after school at a friend’s house, or if you work somewhere where the calls come through a switchboard and be different every time.
The phone is reasonably priced at $139.99 but you also need to remember that it has to be connected to a mobile network and therefore will have ongoing fees. The watch comes with its own SIM and they provide information about a recommended no-contract plan with Kiss Mobile using the Vodafone network (min $9.95pm) but you’re free to join any network or plan you like.
So, should you get your child a Moochies watch?
If your child falls into that age bracket when they are craving a bit more independence but you’re not ready to get them a full-blown mobile phone with all the extra distractions (and costs) or if your child is anxious about being left at daycare or school and would feel comforted knowing they can contact you without having to go through an adult then a Moochies watch is a great compromise.
For my nine year old it is a perfect solution. Not only can she contact me when she is out riding, but I can quickly locate her on a map if she gets lost. She sees the phone as a sign of my trust in her and I feel hugely reassured that when she is out that she is just a phone call away.