Have you heard of the Gabb Watch for kids? We’ve got one for our boys, and it’s been a great safe alternative to more traditional smartphones and devices. Read on for a full review of the Gabb Watch 2 to find out if it’s right for your family.
Heads up: Get a discount on a Gabb Watch or Gabb phone with code HONESTLY when you sign up for a two-year contract.
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A few times each hockey season, we pack up our car with hockey gear and all the things to spend a weekend in a hotel room with a bunch of tweens and their parents. While hockey is the real highlight, hanging out at the hotel is nearly as fun, especially for the kids.
At ten years old, our hockey-loving son is old enough and responsible enough to hang out in his friends’ rooms or public spaces within the hotel without us. On several occasions, we found ourselves walking up and down hotel hallways looking for him, hoping we weren’t crossing paths on different floors.
Reluctant to get him a cell phone just yet, we decided to get him a Gabb Watch a little over a year ago. It’s been a perfect compromise to give him some freedom to grow while also staying connected to us.
If you have a child or teen and you’re looking for an option to stay connected with them but also let them explore a bit on their own, the Gabb Watch might be just what you’re looking for.
Note: We purchased the Gabb Watch which is the older model of the watch. The current model is the Gabb Watch 2. Our Gabb Watch received the free software update to make it function just like the Gabb Watch 2, so I use the terms interchangeably throughout this post.
What is the Gabb Watch 2?
The Gabb Watch is a stand-alone smartwatch that is designed with kids and safety in mind. It intentionally has limited features relative to most smartwatches and smartphones to prioritize the features that kids need to communicate with parents without any other distracting features common on smart devices.
What makes the Gabb Watch 2 different from other smartwatches?
The Gabb Watch is simple and doesn’t have a lot of features, which is precisely why I like it and what makes it unique relative to other smartwatches. It has just the features my boys need to communicate with me, their dad, and a few other close family or friends for safety.
It has a GPS tracking system so I can see where they are. I especially love that I get notifications when it is turned on and off, so I know if they turn it off when they are supposed to be wearing it.
Why My Boys Love the Gabb Watch
My boys absolutely love this thing! My older son, who is ten, has been asking for a phone for a couple of years. Despite hard nos time and again, he persisted, though to no avail. With the Gabb Watch, he gets the freedom that the phone would otherwise offer him without the distracting apps. I also like that he can wear it instead of holding it, which leaves him free to play and hang with his friends without the contact reminder of technology in his hand.
The Gabb Watch is sleek and looks just like other fancy smartwatches. It’s not clunky or childish-looking, so it feels cool and socially relevant.
Gabb Watch As a Landline Alternative
In addition to letting our boys roam a bit with friends while wearing the Gabb Watch, they’re just getting old enough that we feel comfortable leaving them home alone while we are gone on short errands and nearby home. We do not have a landline, so the Gabb Watch is the perfect tool for them to use to call us if they need us while we are away.
Just before we leave, they turn it on and it sits on the counter while we are gone. We can easily reach them as needed. From a cost perspective, it’s far less expensive than adding a landline to our internet service. So despite having a monthly service charge, it saves us money over another alternative to reach our boys at home while we are out of the house.
How does the Gabb Watch 2 work?
In conjunction with purchasing a Gabb Watch, you sign up for a monthly service plan like a cell phone. It’s a contract directly with Gabb Wireless, which uses the Verizon Wireless network, so we pay our monthly fee directly to Gabb each month (and it’s unrelated to our personal smartphone contracts). Although Gabb uses the Verizon network, the Gabb watch contract is not affiliated with an existing Verizon contract.
How much does the Gabb Watch 2 cost?
At the time of this post, the watch is $149.99 and a 2-year service contract costs $9.99 per month. You can a discounted rate with code HONESTLY.
How does the Gabb Watch 2 connect with other devices?
The Gabb Watch must connect with at least one other smart device via the Gabb app. It can also connect with other devices via voice calls and text messages that do not have the app but have been approved by the main guardian account (managed in the app) for the device.
Main Guardian Account Connectivity (Gabb App Required)
Each Gabb Watch is controlled and monitored using a smart device, like a tablet or smartphone, via the Gabb Wireless app. In order to use the Gabb Watch, you must have at least one other smart device to manage the Watch (you can add more than one guardian/manager account but it’s not required).
Download the Gabb Wireless app, connect it to the Gabb Watch, and use the app to manage and monitor the Watch. It took us about five minutes to set up the connection between my phone and the Gabb Watch and was pretty straightforward. You can also call or text the Watch using the app.
For us, I manage the guardian account and use the Gabb app on my smartphone to manage the Gabb Watch. I added the boys’ dad to the list of approved contacts and assigned him as a guardian, so he has full access to call and text the device, manage contacts via the app, and see the GPS location of the watch via the app as well.
Other Approved Contacts (Gabb App Not Required)
The Gabb Watch has its own phone number, but it does not accept calls or make calls to other numbers until 1) the connection between the watch and the phone number is set up by the guardian and approved through the Gabb app and 2) numbers are added as approved contracts via the app.
You can add up to 25 approved contacts to the device. These approved contacts do not need to have the Gabb app to connect with the device. They can simply call the device using the device’s unique phone number just like calling or texting another phone number.
For example, after I set up her phone number as an approved contact, my boys’ grandmother could call or text them simply by calling or messaging the dedicated phone number for their watch just like any other contact in her phone. She does not have the Gabb app installed on her phone.
What functions does the Gabb Watch 2 offer?
Send + Receive Text + Voice Messages | The Gabb Watch can send and receive text messages and voice messages but only to and from a pre-approved set of up to ten contacts. The Watch can receive any text message from a smartphone or tablet, but can only send one of ten pre-programmed texts out to contacts.
The watch comes with ten pre-set text message options, but I can change them using the app on my smartphone. If the boys want to send a message other than the pre-set texts, they can send a voice message using the built-in microphone that shows up in my text messages as an audible recording of their voice.
Make + Receive Phone Calls | The Gabb Watch can also make and receive phone calls to and from approved contacts. For voice calls, the watch works as a call on speakerphone (similar to other smartwatches). It connects like a regular call with my smartphone through the Gabb Wireless app, so I can answer and talk to them like a standard phone call.
Our boys’ watch has its own phone number which makes it easy for me to contact them. Their watch is a saved contact on my phone, so it’s easy to call or text just like I do with other contacts.
GPS tracking + Safe Zones | The watch has GPS tracking, so I can find them when they are out and about. I can also set Safe Zones from the app on my phone that notifies me if they leave a certain area. To set the safe zone, I simply select an address and then create a radius around that address. I can set multiple safe zones and enable or disable them as needed.
Stopwatch + Timer + Alarm | As you’d expect, the watch has a time-telling function on the face. It also has a stopwatch, timer, and alarm functions. My boys really like the stopwatch and timer functions. We also use the alarm function to help them remember when it’s time to come back home or back to the hotel room.
SOS Call | The watch also has an SOS feature. In case of an emergency, the child can hold down the button on the top right side of the watch for about ten seconds. The watch will call the approved emergency contact.
Even if the child hangs up without speaking to the parent, the emergency contact device will receive a notification that an emergency call was made. When you tap on the notification, it takes the user to a map showing where the watch is located. Thus, it doesn’t give exact GPS coordinates, but the parent or guardian could find the child (assuming they are with the watch) using the GPS feature within the app.
Lock Mode | The watch has a Lock function that allows parents to control when the child can use it. You can set “Lock Mode” scheduling as well, so you don’t have to manually turn Lock Mode on and off. However, our boys don’t wear it to school or have it on when they don’t need it, so we haven’t used that functionality yet.
Durability | So far, it’s been really durable for us. It’s resistant to sweat, dirt, and sand, which is helpful for our rowdy boys. They do offer a screen protector but we didn’t purchase it.
Colorful Bands | The standard Gabb Watch comes with a black face and a black band. If you’d like, you can purchase separate colored bands to make it more fun. They recently released Star Wars-themed bands if your kids are into it. We just use the black bands, and it’s been great.
Gabb Go – Step Counting. Task Management, & Games | The watch can count steps, though our kids only wear it when they need it, so the step-counting feature isn’t important to us. It also has a simple game function and task management function to allow parents to help kids manage small chores. However, we don’t allow our boys to wear it all day or play games on it. Thus, I can’t really comment on how these features work because we don’t use them.
What age range is the Gabb Watch good for?
It probably depends on the maturity level of your child. Our boys are 8 and 10, and we let both of them use it. If your kids are old enough to play in the neighborhood with friends on their own, this will make a great tool for them. As far as maximum age, there’s nothing about it that looks childish, so I think it works for all ages that are old enough to take care of it properly.
How often do our boys wear the Gabb Watch 2?
Although we bought it initially for hockey tournaments, we knew both our boys could use it when playing with friends in the neighborhood, between games in their own sports tournaments, while skiing with friends, and in lots of other places where we’re comfortable letting them explore a bit without a full-time watchful eye on them. They currently use the watch a few times a week depending on how many social activities they have.
Did you give the Gabb Watch as a gift?
While everyone can do what’s best for their family, we treat the Gabb Watch as a shared family tool and not a gift that belongs to anyone specifically. We intentionally did not give the watch as a gift but bought it before a hockey tournament and a skiing day with our boys.
For us, choosing not to buy the watch as a gift made it easier to maintain the expectation that it does not belong to any one person but is just a tool for our home and family. But this will certainly vary by family and circumstances.
Why did you choose the Gabb Watch instead of the Gabb Phone?
Our boys only use the Gabb Watch when they are away from us and playing with friends. The watch is easy to put on their wrist and doesn’t get in the way of playing sports and doing various activities. We didn’t want them to have to either hold the phone (which seems especially annoying and distracting for their use cases) or set the phone down and be likely to lose or forget it. At this point, they don’t need any additional functionality beyond what the watch offers.
How does the Gabb Watch charge?
The Gabb Watch comes with a charger that plugs into a standard outlet. The watch sits on the charger with four small pegs that connect to the charger. It charges quite quickly, and we haven’t had any issues with the charger so far.
Final Verdict on the Gabb Watch
Overall, we’ve been really happy with the Gabb Watch. The boys share the device and use it only when they need it, and it’s been really convenient for the boys to have. In fact, we’d love to see their friends get them as well (instead of more traditional smart devices) so they all have similar tools that don’t have the internet or social media.
If you’re in the market for a tool that gives your growing kids a way to communicate with you that’s not also burdened with all the ‘junk’, Gabb Watch is a great option! Even though we haven’t made that investment yet, the Gabb Phone is a great choice too. We have some friends who purchased it for their daughter, and they’ve been happy with it for her thus far.
Don’t Forget: Get a discount on a Gabb Watch or Gabb phone with code HONESTLY when you sign up for a two-year service contract.
Got any other questions about the Gabb Watch? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll answer the best I can.
About The Author
Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.
You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.