Keeping Tabs on My 6-Year-Old With the Tinitell Watch

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My baby boy is growing up fast, despite my insistence that he stop it immediately. He'll be 7 years old soon, and I watch in terror and awe as he grows more independent by the day. I guess I can't complain too much, since he can now help with bigger chores; plus, he's an awesome big brother.

But with each passing day, he detaches a little more, and I find myself worrying about him wandering too far, getting lost, or—heaven forbid—taken. These are not new issues, but modern parents are fortunate to have technology that can ease some of that anxiety; one example is the Tinitell.

Tinitell is a water- and dirt-resistant, child-sized watch that is a combination cell phone and GPS locator. My boy is as gadget-crazy as his mom, so I knew he'd be excited to help me test one out.

Our new Tinitell arrived in a cute little box, complete with a SIM card waiting to be activated. Tinitell's 2G cell phone coverage is powered by Ting, which is a very reasonably priced carrier; our first month's bill was only $9. The coverage was good, except in a few spots where we experienced some garbled audio. I don't know whether this was an issue with our device specifically or with the Ting service itself.

Though the width of the watch itself is a little bulky on my 6-year-old's arm, I was very pleased with the interface and how quickly he was able to pick up on the controls. All I had to do was download the Tinitell app (available on Android and iOS) and connect my phone to his watch via Bluetooth. From there, I programmed the numbers I wanted him to be able to call.

The parent app allows you to record a voice tag to go along with each of the contacts programmed into Tinitell, so a child doesn't need to be able to read in order to call different contacts from his watch. As my son scrolls through the selections, the speaker plays a recording of me reading the name. For example, the first selection I programmed for him is my number, so when he presses the button, he hears my voice say "mom." He pushes the big button again if he wants to call me, and anyone programmed into his contacts can call him via his Ting phone number.

Tinitell AppFor an older child, this would be an awesome feature. For my chatty 6-year-old, all it really means is that he is now able to call my parents and talk to them at length about the most recent episode of Rescue Bots. It's a comfort to know that he would be able to call me in case of an emergency, but since he doesn't spend much time away from me, that feature isn't a huge deal to us. Talk to me again in a couple years and I will probably change my tune.

The GPS locator, however, is super handy. Not only can I locate him should he become lost, but when he's out running errands with his dad or hanging out with grandparents for the weekend, I can check in whenever I want. Yeah, that sounds a little bit helicopter parent-y, but I like knowing where my kids are. Sue me. Also, knowing when someone is on their way to bring your kid home is valuable for those parents who don't keep themselves looking presentable all day long. Not that I know anybody like that.

Tinitell is available for pre-order now at $149; the company says its next batch will ship in late 2016, just in time for the holiday shopping season. It comes in four different colors—coral, navy, aqua, or charcoal.

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