My summer baby just turned nine. It’s hard to believe. As it goes with each year, she is wanting more and more independence. I’m doing my best to give her space to learn and not be a helicopter parent, but man is it hard! There are so many ‘what if’ situations that run through my mind. I’m in a constant mental battle of whether or not to give her a 90’s style life where she gets to run free in the neighborhood or keep her under my wings. Some moms have told me I would feel more secure if she had a phone of her own. Honestly, at this season in her life, I’m equally afraid of her having access to a screen 24/7 so her own personal phone is off limits
Within a week of summer break starting, I became seriously conflicted about our no phone decision. Watching the neighborhood kids riding past our house on their bikes numerous times a day was bringing my daughter down. I know I’m biased, but my daughter is a good kid. She’s responsible, kind and inquisitive. And I felt like I was punishing her by keeping her with me.
When Relay reached out to Macaroni Kid Publishers asking them (along with their children) to try their device, a screenless phone and walkie-talkie with GPS tracker, I jumped at the chance. Knowing this could be a game changer in our house, I ordered it from Amazon right away.
The Relay device appeared at our doorstep and when I told my daughter about it, she was SO excited and felt like such a big kid to be receiving (in her words) ‘a different kind of phone.’
Relay is the smarter smartphone. The Relay device is a small square, made for play and easily fits in a pocket or on one of their carrying accessories. It’s as easy to use as a walkie talkie, but works everywhere because it’s powered by 4G LTE - just like a phone. Since it doesn't have a screen, parents don’t have to worry about kids getting distracted, online stranger danger or them looking at something they shouldn’t be.
As the parent, you simply need to install the Relay app on your smartphone - no need to get a device of your own. From your phone you can talk directly to your kids on their Relay and send and listen to messages. If the app is open, you can talk back and forth, otherwise a pop-up appears saying you have a message (from child’s name). Perfect for working parents who want to stay connected to their children, but cannot have a phone going off during the day. To respond or listen to your message, all your child has to do it hit a button on their device.
We played with the device around the house for a whole day before I let her take off with it. The look on her face was priceless as she pedaled away with all of her buddies with Relay in her pocket.
One of the best features of Relay is the GPS tracking. I’m not too proud to admit that I tracked her all morning as she explored the neighborhood. When it was time for us to get ready for a dentist appointment I was able to simply message her Relay device and tell her it was time to come home. You can even set up a radius around a specific point and receive app alerts when your child’s Relay enters or leaves that area.
Relay features different channels and you can control who your kids talk to: only you, siblings, certain friends, etc. There’s also fun channels including Music, Translate, Joke of the Day, Echo (a voice change) and more coming all the time. My kids are obsessed with the Joke of the Day and I love hearing their belly laughs. As an extra safety measure, kids can even send an SOS from the device to your phone during an emergency situation.
My daughter is so much happier now that she is able to join her friends outside roaming free and it’s all thanks to Relay! I’m sure without Relay we would have been butting heads over and over again his summer about her lack of independence. Even on trips to visit the grandparents, I love being able to reach her anywhere.
My five year old son has also been using a Relay device. Even though he doesn’t have the same level of freedom my daughter has, I’m so grateful to know that once they both head back to school in the fall I can put a Relay in each of their backpacks and always know where they are and be able to communicate with them in an emergency. Relay offers all of the functionality of a smartphone without a screen which is a winning combo for 5-11 year olds and their parents.
At $49.99 for the device plus $9.99/month for the monthly service plan, Relay is a steal compared to monthly smartphone fees, and even sweeter, right now Mac Kid readers can get 40% off of Relay at Target using this link. It’s the peace of mind every parent needs in today’s world - whether your child is going to the opposite parent’s house, staying home sick while you are at work or simply wanting to roam more with friends, Relay is a game changer when it comes to staying connected with your children. To learn more about Relay, click here.
I received product and/or compensation in exchange for this article. As always, opinions are 100% my own.