The problem with buying an Apple Watch and why we finally gave our 12 year old a smart phone

I heard somewhere that the Apple Watch detects heart attacks and then notifies authorities.  This is not actually true.  But I thought it was true.  DH works from home alone and my second biggest fear is that he’s going to have a heart attack at home and his life could have been saved if people had been around to get him medical attention (my biggest fear is similar but involves semi-trucks and crossing the street).  So I decided that an Apple Watch would be a good thing for DH to get, especially after reading a bunch of highly compelling stories about people whose lives were saved by the watch.  After additional research, I did find out that the newest version of the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch 5, is very good at fall detection and will alert authorities and I have instructed DH to attempt to fall (in addition to chewing the aspirin I make him keep at his desk) should he feel a heart attack coming on and is unable to call 911.  This is only somewhat tongue-in-cheek (yes, I do make him keep aspirin at his desk).  Version 5 also has better detection of heart problems that aren’t heart attacks, so if it’s a heart problem that has some warning signs that would be nice too.  So even after I found out that the heart attack thing isn’t true, I was sold on him having one.

It turns out, if you buy an Apple Watch 5, you’re going to need a new iPhone to go with it (because your iPhone 6 isn’t compatible).  You find this out after you get the watch in the mail and have to decide whether to upgrade the phone or return the watch.

When you get a new iPhone 8, you’re going to need a new SIM card to go with it (because your old iPhone 6 SIM card isn’t compatible).  Fortunately, unlike the iPhone 8 ($450 plus tax), the SIM card is only $5 (plus $4 s/h plus tax).  You also find this out after you get the new iPhone in the mail, but by this point you’re committed.

DC1 is going to get the hand-me-down iPhone 6, which is surprisingly beat up (surprisingly because mine is still in really nice condition).  Turns out it’s only worth about $60 resale which is just a little more than we’ve been paying for DC1’s crappy flip phones.  DC1’s current crappy dumb phone has been driving us crazy because it doesn’t get very good reception at hir school which means zie leaves us voice mails that we can’t understand and zie doesn’t get our texts when we need to pick hir up.  It also has such a terrible battery life that I went and bought hir an external battery. Zie has lost or washed so many flip phones at this point we assumed this one would not last long, but it’s been a few months.  Zie will still have it as a back-up when zie inevitably loses the iPhone.

We are going to have to have a long talk about proper smart-phone use and internet addiction and all those other lovely things, but it will be nice for DC1 to be able to use an electronic calendar and to actually get the texts that hir orchestra teacher tends to send in the middle of the day.

Do you have a smart watch?  If applicable, when did your kid get a smart phone? 

16 Responses to “The problem with buying an Apple Watch and why we finally gave our 12 year old a smart phone”

  1. Michael N Nitabach Says:

    I don’t have a smart watch because I don’t see any use for me & I like wearing my fitbit & a regular fancy gold watch. BTW, is there a particular reason your afraid your DH is gonna suddenly die of a heart attack, or just general anxiety channeled into that specific scenario? I’m pretty sure the risk of sudden cardiac death is quite low for otherwise healthy (middle-aged?) people.

  2. bogart Says:

    No smart watch. We had a “household” smart phone (Android, cheap) that was really for DS but only for phone calls, and when that getting routinely violated, we got a household flip phone instead. He doesn’t (generally) take the phone when he goes places (largely his choice, but also fine by me … we have tried somewhat successfully to persuade him that it is fine to ask, well, pretty much anyone if he can borrow their phone to call his parents, should he need to. To be clear, “anyone” here is classmates, adults at school, etc., not random human beings), so its utility for that purpose is limited.

    I quaintly told DS that he cannot have any portable (smart) electronic devices until he has learned to touch type, which, thus far, he is stubbornly refusing to do.

  3. Carol Lynn Says:

    We had to force our eldest to get a cellphone (smartphones weren’t yet all that popular) when he was a junior in high school. It was for our own convenience — he really resisted the idea. On the other hand, the younger two (still in elementary school) ask for a smartphone on a weekly basis and a surprising number of their friends already have them.

  4. Abigail @ipickuppennies.net Says:

    I don’t really “get” smart watches in general. Honestly, yours is the only explanation I’ve heard that makes the things sound useful. Because they’re so small I don’t understand how you can be at all productive on one. As best I can tell, the idea is that you get notifications on the watch then use your phone to do the actual responding? I dunno. It seems to make two of my friends happy, so more power to ’em but I don’t get it.

    If the resale was only $60, then I think it makes sense to have your kid get the phone. Even if the flip phone hadn’t been acting up. I hope (s)he is a little more careful with it than (s)he has been with the flip phones! And at least this way texting with friends will be a lot easier. For better or worse.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Mainly DH is using it as a combination watch and fitbit. He likes gadgets just for gadgetry sake. I can’t really see myself ever using one–I really do just want a watch that tells the time and gives me the date, preferably one that allows me to set a second time when I’m traveling instead of changing the first time. So a basic digital watch.

      DC1 swears zie would have been careful with the flip-phones if they’d been smart phones, but I pointed out with the amount zie has spent on replacing batteries and sim cards zie could have bought hirself a refurbished iphone a long time ago. We’ll see what happens. It does help that the iphone has a find my phone feature.

    • teresa Says:

      It probably depends a lot on how much/what you use your phone for/how tied you feel to your phone at baseline. I use mine for time and date (which I was previously using my phone and not a traditional watch for) and fitbit-style activity tracking. It’s also super useful for controlling podcasts and music without taking out my phone. So at home i’ll listen to podcasts while doing chores with wireless headphones and that way I can choose what to listen to and fastforward/pause/skip with the watch, leaving the phone on a counter or dock or wherever instead of carrying it. Similarly it lets me see who is calling or texting (and the content of a text) and decide if I need to pick up or answer or not without taking out the phone (or even having it with me) which is very very helpful at work. Plus it’s actually really easy to write shortish text responses on the watch itself- faster than than taking out the phone and responding- and i’ve used it to answer calls that need answering when my phone is somewhere nearby but not close enough to get to before the call will go to VM. (A lot of this is specific to the apple watch- i have a garmin smart watch for running and that only shows notifications- you still have to pick up the phone to respond or do anything about them.) Oh and the apple watch will also ping the associated phone when you can’t remember where you set it down, which i use…at least daily.
      But if you are not using a phone a lot already most of that is probably not helpful.

  5. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I’ve had this same irrational fear for a while because a few years ago, one of our young friends who was in amazing health dropped dead at 25 of heart failure and I haven’t been able to shake that specter since.

    No smart watch in our home though. I don’t know why I worry more about PiC than my heart health, I’m the more defective one between the two of us. Probably because if I drop dead, well, I don’t have anything to worry about, do I? But if he does…

    I don’t know what age people are giving their kids phones in the area but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s still a no at ages 10-11. I don’t want to open that can of worms any earlier than I have to, and would like to let JB mature more before getting into the world of social media and the internet and all that.

  6. CG Says:

    We gave our oldest an ancient smartphone (iPhone 5C) when he went to middle school last year. He bikes to school and sometimes stays after for activities and it has been helpful to be able get in touch with him. He’s now been handed down a 6S. We’ve disabled the internet and most apps on his phone, so he can only do calling, texting, weather, music, and now we let him do Pokemon Go because it basically means taking a walk or going for a run with friends and exploring the city. This year he’s started to use it a lot more to make plans with friends, which I also approve of. So far, it’s been a useful tool and not a problem. I expect our younger son to be a lot more interested in pushing boundaries on that, but he has another year and half before middle school, so we’ll worry about that later.

    Smartwatch…ugh. I don’t want to be beholden to my phone any more than I already am. DH has one and likes it a lot, but he has a different relationship to technology than I do (uses it even more, but has zero angst about it).

  7. Lisa Says:

    For what it’s worth, I really love my apple watch (it’s a series 3 and doesn’t have stand-alone connectivity). At first, I couldn’t imagine caring about features other than time on a watch, but I had a fitbit for a while that I ended up loving more because it would alert me to an incoming phone call than for any other reason. My phone is always on silent, and there have been times when I’d miss a call from my partner because I wasn’t paying attention. It was really a trip to Disneyland that solidified my interest in the apple watch – we’d split up to take kids on different rides, but then miss attempts to text or call to get back together. With the fitbit, it would let me know when I was getting a call. It sounds silly, but it was really helpful. When the fitbit broke, I was deciding between a new fitbit and an apple watch. Since the fitbit I was looking at was around $100 but seemed to only last a year or so (based on reviews and my experience) and the apple watch I was looking at was around $300, but I felt confident I could make it last longer than 3 years (I’m still rocking an iphone 6), I went that route. I’ve turned off most of the notifications, but I like being able to change the watch face and love getting text and call notifications. I can also dismiss a call from my wrist rather than letting the phone buzz repeatedly until it goes to voicemail, which is useful in meetings. I try not to check email on it much, but it is a good distraction in a boring meeting. Lately I’ve been finding the calendar feature helpful so I know where I need to be next with a quick glance at my wrist. Long digression, sorry.

    No smartphones for our kids. My oldest did get a dumbphone in middle school (about a year ago) and has been very responsible with it (as I expected they would). The oldest also uses a really old iphone (a 4 I think?) as an ipod and watches videos on it, but it doesn’t have service. I think that middle school (12-13ish) is a good time to practice more responsibility with something like a phone.

  8. First Gen American Says:

    Our oldest also has an ancient apple 5. He got a phone when he hit 12, mainly for after school things when he needs a ride.


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