Children’s smartwatch: Anio, Apple Watch, Xplora

When children are just starting school, they have many new experiences. For example, they learn that there are smartwatches and that many other children already have one. In addition to fitness bracelets, Apple Watches also appear – and again and again children’s smartwatches from Anio and Xplora, which are especially popular in Germany. The capabilities of the watches are completely different apart from the indication of time, location and messages. Fully-equipped smartwatches like those produced by Apple or Samsung are relatively expensive and casually aimed at children. On the other hand, special children’s watches usually offer GPS location, can exchange messages with specific contacts and offer more or less fun add-ons.

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Dog leash on the wrist

What to do with the hours during school is a more difficult question – even for those who need to know. “Nothing really,” says a third-grader interviewed, then after some deliberation, “Above all, count the steps.”

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A conversation with several primary school children in Dresden shows that counting steps is one of the most common jobs. Remarkably, fitness bracelets are equally popular and are also referred to as smartwatches by young tech enthusiasts.

“In the end, each family decides for themselves.”

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media teacher

Parents may find this reassuring: Kids aren’t staring at their devices all day, they’re just encouraged to exercise more. But adults can also take this as a hint that kids may not need a smartwatch.

Media educator Erin Schulze does not like to pass judgment on parents: “In the end, each family decides for themselves.” She is critical of children’s devices in elementary school, but she doesn’t want to “talk away” about parents’ need for security, fears and anxieties. She recommends that parents think about their buying motives first. Is it about “calming fears” with GPS tracking, SOS functionality, and connectivity? Is it more of a control? If children are given the impression that they are on a “digital dog leash,” the desire for control and security can also backfire.

Parents must provide security

“Before purchasing your own device, it makes sense to play, browse or watch together on your parent’s safe smartphone and tablet to teach children how to be safe,” says Schau hin, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, ARD, ZDF and AOK. Their smartphone is suitable for children between the ages of 11 and 12, “if they already have enough experience and maturity to use many functions responsibly.” Kids should already have learned to distinguish between appropriate and age-appropriate or untrustworthy websites.

Constant contact with parents also deprives children of the opportunity to act and learn independently – for example, if the bus breaks down and the child consults the parents instead of the schedule. In addition, according to Schultz, some schools do not like to use smart watches. The media specialist also mentions potential problems with data protection and piracy. However, she sees the incentive to exercise as a positive.

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quarter more movement

Xplora sells smartwatches with a special focus on movement. Upon request, the company explains how the Goplay online platform works: “Steps taken via the pedometer are automatically calculated on our children’s watches, which in turn can be converted into Xplora coins.” The steps will be converted into coins and can be used online for games and contests or donated to a noble cause. The manufacturer measured success: “1.24 times more active than others” are children in activity campaigns.

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The company has sold more than 700,000 watches since its inception in 2017, and Germany is one of the most important markets. The current XGO3 smartwatch is marketed as the “perfect entry into the digital world”, recommended for children aged five and over. Not surprisingly, the group sees the issue of security needs in a very different way from Schulz: the watches will encourage children’s “natural desire” for independence—and parents will worry if they are too anxious to “let their children go their own way” to get it done.

Apparently, parents and children have to decide for themselves how to evaluate digital communication through a smartwatch – as a safety authority or a dog leash. It would be easy to assess this only for models that provide parents with wiretapping or monitoring functions: smart watches with such wiretapping functions may not be sold in Germany, as the Federal Network Agency explains: “Parents are advised to make the watches harmless to themselves and to keep the evidence from destruction ” .

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Read more after the announcement

There is no formula

Anio wants to offer an “accurate and above all safe path to digital communication”. Jean-Michael Wolf, Managing Director, sees his company’s children’s smartwatches as essentially a “secure connection” solution with which to put off the purchase of a smartphone. It also emphasizes the movement impulse with functions such as stopwatch and pedometer.

Anio recommends her smartwatch for children from the age of six, following the recommendations of the well-known French psychologist Serge Tesseron. When asked about the general rules, media specialist Schultz answered dry: “There is no such thing as a formula.” Children are different. In the end, parents must do what they’ve always done: make tough balancing decisions — and bear the consequences.

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