CES 2013: Watch Watches Your Child

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For anxious parents, there needs to be some happy medium for their kids somewhere between a pricey smartphone and a GPS tracker in the backpack. An electronics company thinks they’ve found it with a chunky watch.

The wide-band watch called VivoPlay made by Evado Filip debuted this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company called the device the world’s smallest commercially available communications and location device to keep kids in touch with their parents. Hype aside, Evado Filip founder Sten Kirkbak designed the watch, saying that he came up with the idea after he briefly lost track of his young son in a mall.

This retro-looking device works by tracking your kid using GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi. Communication between the watch and other devices has to be programmed in by a parent so that only up five phone numbers work with it. Say something bad happens, the kid just presses a simple button to make an emergency call. Parents have the ability to transmit messages and make calls to the watch.

In addition, VivoPlay lets parents designate “safety zones.” If the child leaves any of those areas, the device will send an alert to the parent’s smart phone. While there’s no retail price for the watch yet, the company said it expects to start accepting pre-orders in the spring.

As a kid, I had important phone numbers memorized, ready to dial them from a rotodial phone at a friend’s house if needed. But the world is a different place now, and so is my hometown. A special watch your child wears can never be an all-encompassing protective bubble, but it seems far less risky than handing sophisticated communication devices to young children.

The scary part is when kids turn into young teenagers. I feel for anyone grappling with attempting to set limits on their adolescents’ access to social media. Too bad that watch can’t prompt an automatic Facebook block.

Photo Credit: Evado Filip.

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