7 strategies for teaching kids about texting with the Gizmo Watch 3

By: Audrey Smith

Get expert tips on how to help kids develop better texting habits—and how the Gizmo Watch 3 and its new QWERTY keyboard feature can make it easier.

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Kid Using Qwerty Keyboard On Gizmo Watch 3

Experts say a gradual introduction to text messaging can help young kids develop a healthier, more constructive relationship with their devices in the long term. Learning to text can also support the development of various skills and relationships, including text etiquette, quick typing, a greater awareness of how to convey and interpret tone, and more meaningful connections with trusted adults.

“Kids are going to make mistakes, and it’s best if they happen with the people that already love and care about them,” says Christine Heverly, a Children and Youth Programming educator with Michigan State University Extension in St. Johns, Michigan. “That way, mistakes can also be opportunities to discuss what could be done differently next time.”

Kid-safe tech and devices such as the Gizmo Watch 3, which now has a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard but can only text a pre-approved list of contacts, can help give kids a safe introduction to texting. Here are a few strategies and helpful tips to try from educators and experts who’ve used them with their own kids.

  1. Early on, limit your child’s text messaging to family members. Encouraging your child to text with extended family members, especially trusted adults who live far away, can expand their circle. With the Gizmo Watch 3, you approve the contacts they can text, too. When establishing this connection, be sure the family member is aware of any times (such as during school) when your child should not be using their device.

  2. Remind kids to pause before they double-text. After your child has sent a text, remind them to give the other person time to reply rather than sending two (or three or four) follow-up messages. This helps normalize the idea that replies aren’t always immediate. It’s also a good idea to talk through the many reasons why someone might not reply to a text message right away.

  3. Read text messages out loud with your child. Reading a message aloud, using various tones and points of emphasis, can help demonstrate the many ways of interpreting a single message. Unlike a face-to-face conversation, text messages don’t include clues like facial expressions or tone of voice. Meg St-Esprit, M.Ed., a counselor and journalist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, uses this strategy with her own kids as a way to distinguish jokes from more serious messages. “I find that we as parents are often acting as translators,” she says. “For example, we say things like, ‘I think if you read it this way, maybe it would make more sense.’”

  4. Talk together about notification settings and what’s appropriate. This can be a great way to help your child develop contextual awareness around their tech use. For example, it’s important to choose notification sounds that aren’t startling to others, and to discuss contexts—such as school or family activities—when a device should be set to silent or turned off. The Gizmo Watch 3 has several ringtones to choose from, as well as a School Mode that minimizes distractions from Gizmo when your kid is at school.

  5. Talk with kids about screenshots. We live in the era of the screenshot, so it’s important to communicate to kids that nothing they send over text can be completely erased, even if they’ve deleted it from their own device.

  6. Watch how you talk about texting. The way parents talk about technology in front of kids matters, especially if we want them to come to us with tech-related conflicts or concerns in the future. St-Esprit says, “If we are constantly railing against tech and acting as if we have to grudgingly allow them to use it, they may not feel they can bring issues—like an online bully or creeper—to us.”

  7. Make time for them to disconnect. Texting is a great way to connect with friends and family, but it’s also important to spend time away from devices and make space so others can do the same. Establishing specific tech-free times can help counteract the message that we should be endlessly available—especially when parents commit to modeling these behaviors themselves. “It’s worth it to set up strong boundaries from the start about when and where phones are used at home,” Heverly says. “For example, at my house, phones don’t go anywhere at night other than our family’s designated charging station.”

How the Gizmo Watch 3 supports kids learning to text

Guiding kids through their first texting experiences is much easier with the Gizmo Watch 3, which includes various features that help kids communicate safely and effectively:

  • A new QWERTY keyboard update allows users to develop typing skills as they compose text messages in their own words instead of using preset responses.

  • A group-messaging function on the Gizmo Watch 3 makes it easy to stay in touch with extended family. Parents create groups in the GizmoHub app.

  • School Mode disables all features except the SOS button, which allows voice calls to the child’s primary emergency contact.

  • A limit of 20 pre-approved contacts, including the watch’s primary guardian, lets kids communicate only with the people you’ve designated in advance.

Guide your kids through their first texting experiences with the Gizmo Watch 3.

About the author:

Audrey Smith is a multimedia journalist, public media producer and former high school English teacher whose writing focuses on tech, AI and digital literacy for kids.


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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