When I first heard about the SPACETALK Watch I was super excited. The SPACETALK watch functions as a phone and messaging system and has a number of functions that are perfect for kids and parents who need to stay connected. As a paediatric occupational therapist working with children on the autism spectrum, I’ve had many conversations with parents who have been searching for a wearable device that allows them to stay connected with their kids and allows them to check in on their whereabouts. The SPACETALK Watch therefore immediately had my attention as soon as I heard about it. Some kids with autism tend to wander off or will run away when overwhelmed or faced with a perceived threat. Their parents are desperate to know they are safe and be able to track them down if they do go missing. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and for parents whose kids are on the spectrum, unfortunately, it’s a very real concern.
The SPACETALK Watch features GPS tracking which can show you your child’s location on demand and can also be set up to receive alerts when your child leaves a predetermined ‘safe zone’. Kids on the spectrum can also struggle with severe anxiety. This anxiety is often triggered by feelings of being overwhelmed in busy environments, such as the classroom or during transition times like before and after school. Some children feel a little better if they know they can message their mum or dad for reassurance and support. The SPACETALK Watch can be set up so that only select people can contact and be contacted by the user. The watch is controlled by an app on the parent’s phone and sends alerts when unauthorised calls and messages have been blocked.
My twelve-year-old has been using the watch for about a month now, and the app alerts have been working successfully. One feature of the SPACETALK Watch is the option to set up School Mode, which means that only certain features of the phone can be used during school time. Another great feature is that the watch cannot ever connect to the Internet and there’s no way of accessing social media, so it really is appropriate for young children to use. My daughter has used her watch to call me from school when waiting to be collected, and the call quality has been excellent.
The SPACETALK Watch is a great alternative for parents who want to stay connected to their kids without the need to give them a smart phone. For parents whose children have autism, it is a particularly useful product. Before committing to any product it’s always good to weigh up the pros and considerations.
As relatively new tech, the watch does cost a bit to purchase and set up. It’s currently retailing for around $350. On top of the purchase price, you also need a phone plan. We chose a $10 prepaid plan that gives us 21 days of use. It’s also good to remember that the watch is only going to be useful if your child agrees to wear it. If you are considering purchasing the watch for your child with autism, they may not like the feel of the watch on their wrist. Other kids may feel a bit self-conscious because on smaller wrists it can look a little chunky. You should also check with your school to make sure it’s permitted. You might need to explain to the school that the watch does not connect to social media, has a School Mode, and can only be used to contact specific people.
The watch does have some really lovely, useful features in addition to the contact options. The watch can tell the weather and has a step tracker and stopwatch. From the phone app, you can change the watch screen. Choose from a selection of images or use your own picture. You can also display the time as either digital or analogue. This is a cool way to personalise the phone and give your child the chance to add their own flair. This is the first smart watch for kids I’ve had the opportunity to try, however, I am really pleased with SPACETALK and will happily suggest that parents looking for a smart watch give it consideration.