A Worry-Free Smartphone For Kids
This Is The Easiest For Kids And Their Caregivers To Stay in Touch.
By PJ Feinstein
As a wellness coach for special needs moms, Sinead Quinn-Biskup works with women whose crazy busy lives often make them feel out of control. Sinead can appreciate what they’re going through because she’s a special needs mom, too -- her son, T, has Down syndrome with apraxia of speech.
One challenge Sinead faces is allowing T to have some freedom while also looking out for his safety. At 11 years old, T is beginning to crave more independence, but his lack of “responsible decision-making skills” is concerning, she says. “I worry about him being easily led. T can be trusting and loves to make people laugh.”
Her fear of T wandering off is one reason why Sinead was excited for him to test Relay, a safe and simple phone for kids. T doesn’t have a smartphone because Sinead and her husband think it would be too much responsibility for their son right now. “He would be just walking around watching kids opening boxes on YouTube all day long!” says Sinead.
Her other kids -- nine-year-old daughter, E, and seven-year-old son, A -- don’t have smartphones either. Previously, Sinead and her husband thought they might allow them to have phones when they turned 12, “but in the past two months we have been discussing shifting the age to 14 or 15,” she says.
Relay, however, is a screenless device that offers a distraction-free way to communicate. Plus, it also comes with built-in GPS tracking and an SOS feature for emergencies. Parents can use a free app on their smartphone rather than another Relay to talk to their kid’s device.
Sinead says Relay would’ve come in handy when her daughter got scared recently at a sleepover and wanted to come home. “Maybe I am too soft, but I would have loved if she had a way to contact me, as she didn’t want to wake up the parents where she was staying, even though they are good friends of ours,” she says.
This is Sinead + her family’s experience with Relay.
What was your first impression of Relay?
That is was simple, not intimidating and nice packaging.
Did you find the device easy to set up?
Yes! I am not the most technically-minded person in the house, but I made a point to be the person to set this up so I understood how it worked. If I can work it out, that is saying something!
What do your children think of the device?
They love it! All of them. They all want one to be able to get in touch.
What do you think of this device as a way to communicate with your kids, particularly T? How did he like it?
T LOVES it. He worked out how to use it pretty quickly, and his siblings were at hand to teach him. He doesn’t yet understand the appropriate times to use it and that it is not a toy. I had 13 messages from him this morning on the way to school!
However, what we are finding is it is awesome to have our younger two kids have one too while they are all together. It gives them “responsibility” and the ability to contact us should an incident occur on the bus to or from school.
Going forward into the summer months of camps and play dates, I feel assured knowing if anything happens with T, his siblings can notify us quickly.
What are the best features of Relay?
I love that my kids are able to contact me without requiring a phone! Just the simple one-button function to use. Especially for T, because there aren’t multiple screens for him to navigate. But as T grows and we give him more independence, its location tracking element will be so reassuring for me.
Would you recommend this device to other special needs families?
Yes yes yes! Definitely. Especially if avoiding screens is a priority, which it is in our house. Our kids are so vulnerable to what is available on phones now, especially when they are young and don’t understand they are one click away from danger. I want to protect my children’s innocence for as long as I can, and I prefer to keep screens where we can see them for as long as we can. Plus, if it’s lost, at least it’s not an iPhone replacement!
In Partnership With Relay