Smart phones are not an option for our young children. They know it. We have many reasons for our position. I searched for years for an option to give my children a way to safely communicate with family. I finally found it with Relay Go.
I received Relay Go units in exchange for this post, however the opinions and experiences shared are my own. .
Saving their childhood.
In our family, we value time spent outside, good books, long conversations with depth and adventurers that stock up our memory banks. However, we aren’t opposed to screen time. Both of our children have access to tablets for some time to play games (Minecraft) or watch a cartoon (Disney+). But those tablets have safety check upon safety check. There is no internet browser and no access to YouTube or other sites. While this may seem overprotective to some, it is what works for our family and I would much rather error on the side of overprotective than expose my children to too much, too fast.
Research and more research.
Over the past few years I began looking for an option for a phone for my children. I knew that I wanted to eventually give them something. It’s funny. I grew up when a house phone was still common. When we moved to our home in Arkansas, it just didn’t make sense for us to have a landline and the cost was substantial. So, it didn’t dawn on me that my children didn’t have the opportunity to just pick up the phone and call their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. Sure, they had Skype, and then later, FaceTime as an option, however it required asking permission first. Mom or Dad had to always be involved. While that isn’t a bad thing, I wanted to offer them more.
My daughter’s fun rainboots can be found HERE.
The deal breaker.
One day a few months ago, my daughter fell sick. Then my husband caught her illness and it was a horrible, no good, very bad day. I absolutely HAD to go to the grocery store for some necessities for the sickies. My daughter was awake but the uncertain and with no warning, vomiting made it impossible to run to the store with her and my son. My brave boy offered to stay home with them. I was fine with it, but exceedingly nervous because while my husband was home, he was deep asleep. Concerned about giving my son a way to reach me, I hastily downloaded and set up Facebook Messenger for Kids. This went against my heart as I had been avoiding it at all costs. But, I couldn’t see another solution in the moment. Their tablets are set up under my Apple ID, so Apple iMessage was out. It worked wonderfully and my son delighted in sending me GIFS every five seconds while I literally ran through Walmart.
Facebook Messenger for kids lasted exactly one day in my house. The app kept encouraging him to use the camera and filters and it was not ok with me. Within two days of the messenger incident, I reached out to Relay Go.
What exactly is Relay Go?
Essentially, Relay Go is an amped up version of a walkie talkie. It’s a very easy to use, push to talk, phone that has no screen. Each unit runs on the nationwide 4G LTE network. It stands out over a walkie talkie because it runs on the cell phone network: my children can talk to their grandparents at the touch of a button. I have the ability to send secure invitations on our app to family members, or to whomever I chose to. Within the smartphone app, I can set up who they can communicate with – among other neat features that I’ll get into later. On the Relay Go unit, they can switch conversation channels through a button press and voice command. I will never forget the smile on my son’s face when he was able to talk to Nana and Papa, from half way across the country.
So much more than a walkie talkie.
The Relay Go answers the problem of finding a suitable phone for children. But it also gave me an opportunity to let my children explore a little farther. Sure, I’ve always let them run ahead on the trail. But now I didn’t necessarily have to run to find them, at least right away. I knew that they had a way to reach me if they needed help. Perhaps one of my other favorite features is the built-in GPS. That means I can see where they are in real time. On my Relay Go app I am able to see on a map exactly where they are. Each unit shows up color coded to match what my children have along with the name I’ve assigned to each one. There is also a capability to set up a geo-fence, which will then send an alert to my app should they move outside of that designated zone. While it’s not meant to replace my supervision, it does give them an opportunity to taste a bit more freedom to explore.
The gift of freedom and trust.
I trust my children. Mostly. But the fact remains that they are still children. The behemoth that social media has become did not exist when most of us were growing up. We went through our childhood and teen years without the constant barrage of culture that modern children (and parents) are facing. Just as I wouldn’t hand over the keys to a car to my children, I will not hand them a smartphone with the world (both the good and the bad) literally at their fingertips. We will work together to tackle that beast in a step by step method, just like learning to drive. Lesson one doesn’t begin on the road. Relay Go has given my children a means to communicate freely with family, but done so in a way that preserves childhood. It’s a fleeting thing and there is no need to rush it along at any faster pace. It is my opinion that giving a smartphone to children will do exactly that, chip away at their childhood without anyone even noticing. We will all look up from our screens one day and realize that life has passed in a flash and there are many moments we missed because we were too distracted by instant gratifications of little importance.
A few of my favorite features.
There are many reasons to love Relay Go, but I’ve narrowed it down to my TOP FIVE reasons to get Relay Go for your family.
- Screen free, nationwide phone service that works with the push of a button.
- There are several accesories and ways to carry your Relay. There is an armband and a lanyard or loop case. My children really enjoyed the loop case, which they wore as necklaces on our adventures.
- Water resistant, durable and kid friendly design with three simple buttons.
- The smartphone app is secure and easy to use. I can flip between Relays with ease, or use Group Chat options to talk with everyone in the group.
- Built in GPS with geofencing capabilities.
Relay Go is available at Target and Amazon. It comes in four fun colors and two different cases and carrying styles. Each unit retails for $49.99, however you can always watch their website and social media pages for sales. There is a montly fee of $9.99 per month, per device. Payments can be made monthly, or you can pay for the year in advance and get two months free! There are also channels available on Relay such as Translate, where you can speak into the Relay and it will translate it back to you in a different language. Currently there are twelve different languages available! Other channels include: daily joke, music, and echo (a voice changer). One other feature that we really love – the “voicemail” like capability to save messages! That way, no messages are lost if someone isn’t listening at the same time someone is speaking. I found this to be incredibly helpful when my son was rapid fire annoucing to me the flight path of a blue heron he had spotted at a lake in our neighborhood. It also means you don’t miss out on anything important.
One more thing.
And last, but certainly not at all least, Relay Go comes with an emergency alert function. As a homeschool parent who is often alone with my children, I never want to think about them having to use it, but the reality is they need a means to alert my husband or family if anything happened to me. In a dangerous or scary situation, they may not have the presense of mind to unlock my smartphone and call my husband. The emergency alert is activiated with a series of five quick taps on the main button, and the emergency alert is sent to every app user on our family account. Again, this isn’t anything anyone wants to think about, but it is comforting to know it’s there.
The answer to phones for children.
My search for a kid-friendly phone that fit within our family values started two years ago. A short time into that search, I discovered Relay Go. I followed their social media channels and continued to be impressed with the product from afar. Now after having the great pleasure of experiencing the product first hand: I give it five stars. This “phone” is what parents need. And yes, I mean need. Anything that will help save childhood, while protecting my children from all the unnecessary things out there, is gold in my opinion.
If you have any questions about Relay Go, please don’t hesitate to contact me! Our family has benefitted immensely from adding these to our home and I hope that you’ll consider the same. May you, and your children, continue to see the wonder as you wander, and maybe while they wander just a little bit farther.
One more way to get outside.
Have you heard of 1000 Hours Outside? My friend, Ginny, has started a powerful movement to get families outside, both more frequently and for longer amounts of time. There are even FREE printouts so you can track your time this year as you go. If you’re looking for more ideas for getting outside, or why it’s even important: check out Run Wild My Child and the newest blog post there by Ginny. Or, if you’d like to read a little bit more about our “one word” for this year, you can do so HERE. If you’re wondering who we even are, you can find out HERE. Thanks, friends!