Freckles in April: Relay! Because We are Grumpy Old People Who Don't Want to Give Our Kids Cell Phones

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Relay! Because We are Grumpy Old People Who Don't Want to Give Our Kids Cell Phones

Not sponsored. We bought and paid for these with our own money.

My boys are at an in-between stage. They're 11 and 8, which means they're old enough to be allowed some freedom to wander but not old enough for cell phones. I love letting them roam- they hop between friends' houses, ride their bikes in the desert, go to the park- but I HATE when I can't find them.

I hate having to text all their friends' moms to see if my kids are at their houses. I hate driving around looking for them because they didn't come home when they were supposed to. I REALLY hated the one time when no one seemed to know where my oldest was and I was driving around getting more and more panicked and wondering if he was in the back of someone's van driving to his doom (he was at a friend's house in the next neighborhood over).

Aaron and I wanted to try Gizmo watches but they're a Verizon thing and we have AT&T. We looked at a bunch of other watch options but they were all really expensive, had significant limitations, features we didn't want, or all of the above.

Then Aaron stumbled upon Relay. It's essentially a phone that doesn't have a screen and can only call within the channels you set up. There are no games, no internet access, etc. We gave each of our boys their own unit for Christmas and when I shared them on my IG story it became apparent that lots of people are in the same boat and looking for non cell phone options.

It's been two months and I can tell you that they aren't perfect but they work pretty darn well. They're also still fairly new and some of the issues I've experienced have already been resolved. The company is actively working on improving their product, which I appreciate.

Questions people asked on my initial IG story:

1. How much does it cost?

The units themselves are $50 and the service costs $10 per month. We felt that was really reasonable compared to cell phones!

2. Does it have a distance limit?

Nope! It connects over a cell network so it's kind of like a cell phone and a walkie talkie had a baby.

3. Does it have GPS?

YES. I love this function so much. It's nice to be able to quickly check where my kids are.

4. How do you talk to them?

There's an app. They carry their units with them (they're pocket sized) and I can talk to them or check their location via the app.

They're fairly shallow and slide easily into my boys' pockets

Everyone kind of had to get trained on how to call each other (they have to send me a "channel alert" then wait for me to see the notification on my phone and open the app to respond). The devices themselves are pretty simple though- you press and hold the button while you're talking and then let go when you're done. The sound quality is good, not great. It's fine for quickly relaying information but I wouldn't want to have a longer conversation. Which brings me to-

It became apparent VERY quickly that we had to set rules for how the Relay should be used. My boys got real chatty at first and kept calling me to ask questions about dinner or tell me about the game they were playing with their friend. I finally told them that the Relay is JUST for calling for help or telling me where they are. Conversation can wait until they get home.

Another slightly annoying thing is that when I get a Relay notification on my phone I feel like I need to open the app and respond immediately. However, half the time it was an accidental button push (there is a "lock" feature that we are trying to get them to use) or they are calling their brother to see where he's at. We set up a separate channel for them to call each other without blowing up my phone with notifications but if they forget to change the channel back then I can't call them. This is probably my biggest complaint and it really only applies to people with multiple children using the service. I brought it up with their support team and they know it's an issue and have been working on some solutions.

Overall we've been really pleased. It's allowed us to give our kids even more freedom without all the expense and baggage of giving them cell phones. My kids like that they can always get a hold of us and that they don't have to come home every time they change locations to let us know where they'll be. It's a solid option for kids in that in-between place!


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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this! Do you have problems with your kiddos forgetting to take their Relays along? Or perhaps setting them down and forgetting where they are? Does the GPS help when they become lost?


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