Helicopter moms rejoice! Now you can stop hovering so much and join the ranks of “free range kids”…with a little backup from FiLIP! It’s a simple “smart watch” that your kid can wear and use to stay in touch with Mom and four more trusted contacts.
FYI: This review was made possible by AT&T, who loaned us a FiLIP to try out. I did not receive compensation for this review and we returned the device after putting it through it’s paces.
What’s a FiLIP?
It’s a simple to use GSP locator (you know, a kid tracker) that can also make calls and receive short text messages. Oh, and it’s a watch! It’s for kids too young to own a phone, but old enough to walk to a friend’s house.
The FiLIP is rugged and waterproof–which you need if you’re going to strap it to your active kid. It’s also super simple to use, with just two buttons. From the child’s end, it only does three things: tell time, call a mom approved contact, and receive messages. Because it’s a watch and not a real handset, calls placed through the FiLIP are like using a walkie-talkie. But this also keeps it simple….there’s no dialing, and no numbers to remember! To place a call, the kid just picks a name from a list and pushes the button.
So how can a watch make a call without being near a phone? The FiLIP is connected device, like an iPad, and uses cellular data. It needs to be on your wireless account and paired to a smart phone–but it doesn’t need it’s own line. AT&T charges a $10 per month data fee, similar to adding that iPad to your wireless account. You’ll activate the FiLIP from your smart phone, using the free FiLIP app.
The watch might be really easy for the kid to use, but I had a little trouble setting it up on the mom side of things. I had a little trouble setting up safe zones, which require an actual address. Unlike finding your kid’s school on a Google Map, where you might just type in Apple Valley Elementary, I had to look up the street address of Mitch’s school. So what’s a safe zone? When the watch enters a safe zones it will alert the parents (via the app) that the child has reached the safe zone, and again when they leave. For instance, I can have FiLIP tell me when Mitch gets to school, leaves school and when he gets home. Excellent for parents with latchkey kids (that’s still a term, right?)
Five Contacts, no more.
The parent who activates the FiLIP will be the primary contact. If you want Filip to display that cute “Mom Calling” message, you better call yourself Mom in the contact. Once you’re set up, you can add more people–they can be either “guests,” will full access or just an emergency contact. I don’t know I like the “guest” term since these trusted contacts are most likely going to be the grown ups in your family…Dad is NOT a guest. But the important distinction is that a guest is a full user, with access to the FiLIP’s GSP tracking and message system. Emergency contacts are just people the kid can call for help, like a neighbor.
The kid can call ANYONE on the contact list by pushing the buttons. But the kid can not send messages–like I said, it only has two buttons! Messages can only be sent by the trusted users through the FiLIP app, and they’re pretty short–just 24 characters. It’s enough to message something like, “come home” or “dinner’s ready.” Not much more.
You might think, gee, only five contacts? But remember, this is an emergency device for kids too little to carry a real phone. When they can handle a phone, get them a phone.
The FiLIP is a pretty cool piece of tech. If you’ve got a kid that’s responsible enough to wander the neighborhood or walk with friends to school…but not quite old enough to keep track of an expensive phone, this might be what you’re looking for.