Why these parents say the Gizmo Watch is a great smartwatch for kids

By: Molly McGinn

When kids are old enough to run around the neighborhood but too young for a phone, these parents say the Gizmo Watch is a good first step into tech.

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Kid Wearing Gizmo Watch

One of the great joys that only today’s digital parents can experience is getting that first text from your kid. Even if it is a string of 30 emojis.

“The first text was ‘I’m here,’ and it was just very comforting,” says Jessica Bonikowske, a mother to three boys ages 5, 9 and 12, about her son sending that first text from a Gizmo Watch saying that he’d arrived where he was supposed to be. “He used it the way he was supposed to.”

If you’re reading this, you’re probably deep scrolling reviews of smartwatches for kids—and enduring campaigns from your kid to get one.

Consider this: The Gizmo Watch 3 was Wirecutter’s top pick as the best smartwatch for kids. And if you’re a Verizon customer, it’s also the easiest option to get started with.

When asked, parents who purchased a Gizmo Watch say that the GPS tracker—the ability to see the location of the device and the child who is wearing it—plus two-way calling drove the final decision.

“We did a lot of research about what to buy because there are a number of trackers out there,” says Ray Pastore, Ph.D., professor of esports and online teaching and learning at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (Pastore is also a paid contributing writer to Parenting in a Digital World). “The one thing we liked, in addition to being a tracker, was the two-way communication. He could call us. Many others were just trackers.”

What is a Gizmo Watch and how does it work?

“It has a GPS tracker, and he can call us,” says Jessica Bonikowske, who got the device for her oldest son.

The Gizmo Watch is part phone, part GPS tracker, and parents can control everything on the device through the GizmoHub app installed on their phone. The device is like a fitness or activity tracker with a touch screen on the watch face to scroll through the calling, voice, and messaging features. The device comes with its own phone number and costs about $10 a month for Verizon customers.

The Gizmo Watch 3 has a faster processor, too. And that matters, because most adults can tolerate a little lag time in using a device, but not most kids, says Pastore.

“When you start up any of these watches, it can take anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute,” says Pastore, who reviewed the Gizmo Watch 2 for his 6-year-old on his YouTube channel. “If there’s a two- or three-second lag, he could think it’s not working and get frustrated.”

Setup is fast and easy, so kids can start tracking steps, making calls and texting you heart emojis in just a few moments.

And Bonikowske says her son picked up learning the tech faster than her parents.

‘In Five Minutes He Understood How To Use It.’ By Jessica Bonikowske | Gizmo Watch

The Gizmo Watch has three versions: the GizmoWatch 2, GizmoWatch Disney and the newest version, the Gizmo Watch 3. Here’s how they stack up.


GizmoWatch 2

GizmoWatch Disney

Gizmo Watch 3


Qualcomm SDW 2500

Qualcomm SDW 2500

Qualcomm SDW 4100

Front camera

No camera

5 MP camera

5 MP camera


DRAM: 512 MB; Storage 4GB

DRAM: 512 MB; Storage 8GB

DRAM: 1GB; Storage 8GB

Talk time

Up to 2.44 hours

Up to 2.44 hours

Up to 4.45 hours

GPS tracking

Multiple geofencing safe zones, alerts, real-time tracking

Multiple geofencing safe zones, alerts, real-time tracking

Multiple geofencing safe zones, alerts, real-time tracking

Approved contacts

Up to 20

Up to 10

Up to 20


Step tracker, weather forecast, Group Chat, Gizmo Buddies

Step tracker, weather forecast,

Step tracker, weather forecast, games, Group Chat, Gizmo Buddies




Bluetooth 4.1 and BLE

Dust and water resistance





Introducing tech to kids with smartwatches

“It’s taught him responsibility. He has to take it with him, and it’s building trust in our parent-child relationship,” Bonikowske says.

Kids and technology can be tricky: Too many bells and whistles can be distracting; and if the tech is too complicated, it can be discouraging. Most kids ages 3 to 11 aren’t ready for a smartphone yet, and most kids around the age of 6 aren’t ready to text, either.

The Gizmo Watch for kids has simple calling features and messaging options that give this age group the ability to stay in contact, whether there’s an emergency or just a need to feel connected at that first sleepover.

The message readout feature is good for differently abled learners as well, says Clay Hadden, a speech pathologist in Charleston, South Carolina, who specializes in using tech to help kids learn how to talk. And because it looks like a device that every other kid is wearing, a kid with dyslexia doesn’t appear to need any special help while adapting to new skills.

“If you can’t be like other kids because of dyslexia, the readout function is going to be more socially accepted,” Hadden says.

Because it’s a smartwatch for kids, the conversation can start early about the age-appropriate use of tech, says Bea Moise, a cognitive specialist and parent of two neurodivergent children who coaches digital parents. She suggests teaching kids early to ask a caregiver for permission about when to use the device.

That means learning to put the device on the charger when not in use; setting boundaries around not making calls at inappropriate times, such as during school; and helping kids understand that it’s a primer device: How they use it now will help determine if they’re ready for the responsibility of a smartphone later.

Parental controls

“We can control things from the app; I can control if it’s going to ring or be on silent mode. We also set it to Auto Answer, so if I call him, it will buzz a few times and it just answers and we can listen in,” says Pastore.

Parents and caregivers can adjust the device from the GizmoHub app on their phone. You can enter up to 20 phone contacts—family members, friends, and grandparents—and lock in who can call your kid. The parent app also controls the device volume as well as the brightness on the digital display to help maintain battery life. From the dashboard, parents can activate school mode or quiet mode to limit device use during the day.

Smartwatches with GPS trackers offer parents peace of mind

“We use Find My Device all the time. It’s an essential feature,” Pastore says.

For parents with no time to figure out how these things work, the Gizmo Watch 3 provides excellent GPS tracking. From the start, you can open the parent app to track your child’s location and activate SOS calling, QuickDial and Auto Answer features. Plus, with geofencing, you can draw a border around an area your child is permitted to go—such as a neighborhood—and get a notification when they’ve gone outside that boundary.

Pastore uses the “Find My Kid” and “Find My Device” options, too.

“He comes home and takes it off in his room,” Pastore says. If his son forgets where he put it, Pastore opens the app, taps Find My Device, and the watch beeps.

‘We Use Find My Device All The Time. It’s An Essential Feature.’ By Ray Pastore | Gizmo Watch

Help kids build healthy habits

“My oldest son has a technology addiction, that’s why we leaned into the Gizmo option,” Bonikowske says.

Ongoing research from the National Library of Medicine shows that wearables with timers and reminder features like what’s on the Gizmo Watch can have a positive impact on kids struggling to stay organized. With additional tools such as the weather app, a fitness tracker and physical games, the Gizmo Watch provides features that can help kids stay organized, set daily reminders, or set physical activity and step count goals.

The weather update displays the location by city and state, the current temperature, and icons such as a cloud and a sun for the current weather condition along with a matching phrase, such as “Have fun in the sun.” The second weather screen displays the current conditions for air quality, pollen and UV exposure.

Repurpose An Eyeware Case As A Smartwatch Case | Gizmo Watch

How’s that decision going for you?

“My son can call us at any time,” Pastore says. “We call him; he picks it up. It’s working. We’re going to Disney in two weeks, and he’s going to wear it there in case he gets lost.”

But be prepared: Seeing that first text may not hit like hearing their first word or taking their first step, but it’s definitely worth a screenshot.

“The first text, he sent me lots of pictures. He’s 6. He can’t type or read just yet,” Pastore says. “It was a pineapple. He probably sent 30 of them. It was many.”

Here’s to many more pineapple and poop emojis.

Get the Gizmo Watch 3 and find new ways to stay connected—and safe—with your kids.

About the author:

Molly is an award-winning tech and child development writer for Parenting in the Digital World.


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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