Just last week we saw Alcatel Mobile’s Family Watch on the stand at MWC 2019, and now the watch is here in Australia to give parents some peace of mind for kids that are increasingly on the move.

The Family Watch is a new cellular-connected 3G watch for kids to wear, allowing them to call or message their parents and (parent-approved) friends, while also keeping tabs on where kids are and whether they are where they should be. These latter features are powered by the TCLMove app, which allows parents to view their child’s whereabouts, contact the device, and customise which features their child can access.

I remember getting my first mobile in high school, which I bought with my own money in year 9 or 10 with my first job. These days, though, research shows that kids are getting phones younger and younger. A recent study by Environmental Health revealing the median age for a first smartphone is 8 years. The study found that the driving factor in giving children their first phone was as simple as parents wanting to be readily able to contact their child.

As a parent, I have some reservations about products like this; as important as it is for me to know where my children are (and that they are where they should be), I don’t think any age is too young to be mindful of privacy implications. For young children, the obligation to provide for their welfare and safety is overriding, in my mind, provided that this information is securely protected against access (much less misuse) by anyone other than me and my partner.

Alcatel’s Sam Skontos agrees, noting that the Alcatel MOVETIME Family Watch balances connectivity with safety:

“As a father, I’m passionate about the launch of the Alcatel MOVETIME Family Watch 3G as it helps give children the independence they crave, and parents the peace of mind they need. It takes away the pressure of giving your child their first smartphone so young, and provides them with a device that’s easy and safe for kids to use.”

What can kids do with the Alcatel Family Watch?

The Alcatel Family Watch features a colourful touchscreen that is easy for young children to use. They can add friends through Bluetooth, send funny emoji icons and messages, and make and receive calls to designated contacts. This is important – as a parent, you can specify who your child can be in touch with; they can’t just go contacting random people you don’t know about.

The Alcatel Family Watch also provides children with a to-do list and reminder function that makes everyday life easier for parents by teaching time management and flagging important dates or appointments. This can be especially important for today’s disorganised child.

Designed for the child on the go

Ergonomically designed, the Alcatel Family Watch can keep you with your kid. You can swap out wristbands for something more comfortable as needed, customise the watchface, and with two days’ battery life, you don’t need to charge it every night (though, you probably should).

Better yet, the Alcatel Family Watch is also IP67 rated, water-resistant (up to one metre in static water for up to 1 hour) and dust-proof.

What does it offer parents?

Why would you want a watch like this for your kids? Alcatel’s Family Watch includes a variety of location features, providing indoor and outdoor positioning, two-way calling, and geofencing, thanks to the integrated GPS capabilities on the Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform.

The SOS button on the watch enables the device to call for help in an emergency and be located with superior accuracy, while the geofence feature can send alerts when their device exits a pre-set safe zone. Parents are also able to view their child’s device whereabouts throughout the day via the dedicated app, and contact the device.

Pricing and availability

The Alcatel MOVETIME Family Watch (MT30) 3G is available exclusively in-store and online with Vodafone for $180. Parents will need an Android or iOS smartphone to use the TCLMove app for parents to make full use of the watch.

Vodafone’s no lock in contracts allow customers to purchase the Alcatel Family Watch 3G and pay for it with flexible payment terms – spreading the RRP of $180 over 12, 24 or 36 months.

The $10 wearable month-to-month plan comes with unlimited talk and text and 1GB data, which is more than enough for this product.

We’re seeing increasing competition in this space and we can’t wait to try this out.

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This is half the price of the Australian-designed equivalent for what appears to be essentially the same functionality, although maybe without step counting on the Alcatel version? It’s an area of the market that is likely to have a number of other options in coming months/years.