Gizmo Watches

Today’s post is brought to you by…me watching too many shows on Netflix where children were hurt.


I mentioned a few weeks ago that Andrew and I got all crazy and started watching documentaries…and when it was all said and done, I wanted my kids to live in a bubble forever.  Over the last few months, we watched Abducted in Plain Sight, The Keepers, Leaving Neverland and The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.  In hindsight, I should have stopped myself…but we were on a roll and now, I’m building a bubble.  #justkidding #sortof

So, after watching all of that stuff, I started thinking about this watch that my friend Jeni told me she bought for her son that has GPS on it and allows the kids to text and/or call preset numbers.  Andrew and I researched it, bought two for the big kids and are SO PLEASED!!!!  They’ve only had them for two weeks, but I thought it was enough time to do a mini-review.  I’m hoping many of you already have them for your kiddos and can chime in as well in the comment section.

First, let’s backup.

Two years ago, my big kids saved and bought themselves Garmin Vivofit Jr watches…

…I talked about them HERE for the first time (and have continued to talk about them since).  We have LOVED those watches!  In fact, Miss Ashby got one from Santa this last year and is obsessed with her’s too.  I snapped this pic of Ashby on Friday night…

…and then later realized you could see it in the picture.  She never takes it off.  Ever.  Here are some of the reasons why we love this watch…

1: They’re waterproof.
2: They have an internal battery that lasts about a year, so you do not have to charge it daily (like an Apple watch).
3: We have their watches synced up to our phones, so we can monitor activity, steps, sleep cycles, and even other things.  (For example: They’re able to log in their reading hours, TV hours, chores, etc.)
4: They’re kid sized so they fit their little wrists just perfectly.
5: They have timers on there to monitor activity (so if I say they can have 30 minutes of screen time, the timer goes off after 30 minutes).
6: We have it set to shut off automatically at 8:00 PM and then turn back on again at 6:30 AM ( so that they can’t mess with them when they’re supposed to be sleeping).

I just want you guys to know that for the record, we still love these Garmin watches, and Ashby still has one.  We only bought the new Gizmo watches for the big kids for a few reasons (and then, I’ll explain more about them below):

1: You have to take them off and charge them daily, and I’m not sure Ashby is ready for that responsibility (her just leaving it on 24/7 seems to work right now).
2: It requires reading in order to work the Gizmo, and Ashby is a beginner reader.  I can send lengthy text messages to my big kids, but I’m not sure Ashby is ready to read a lengthy text or scroll through Gizmo’s list of response text messages to text me back.  I think she needs to be a little bit old and a more proficient reader to really be able to work the new watch.
3: The Gizmo allows the big kids to call and/or text Andrew and me and they use it very responsibly…Ashby is in kinder and I just don’t know that she’s ready for the freedom to call us at any time.  I feel like we might need to be a tad more mature before that happens (so that she’s not calling us 500 times a day).  The big kids most certainly wouldn’t have been ready in kindergarten, so I really can’t expect Ashby to be.  Maybe when she’s eight or so, she’ll be ready?  We’ll play it by ear.

Whew! Okay, I still love the Garmin, but here is why I love the Gizmo

Gizmo Watch Review

1: Andrew and I each have the Gizmo Hub app on our phones.  With this app, we can see who they’re calling and texting, we can identify their exact location (for instance, during the day, we can see the name of their school along with the physical address), and we can set all sorts of boundaries and features for their watches (see below).
2: We have set their watches so that they can each call or text only us.  They can call our cell phones and we can call their watches.  We can send them text messages and the kids can respond with either one of the many (there’s like 25!) pre-set options or they can reply with a voice text.  They can also send us emojis.  The pre-set texts they can send include things like: I don’t feel well, I want to go home, What time is dinner, I love you, What time are you picking me up, and on and on and on.  I would say that most of the time, my kids are able to pick one of those text messages to send us, but if there isn’t one that corresponds with what they want to say, they send us a voice text.  They can pick whether they’re sending it to Andrew or me (it doesn’t go to both).  They can text us or call us any time.  That being said…
3: We can set “quiet hours” on their watches so that the watch is silent.  We have it set Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 3:00pm.  This way, while they’re in school, they can not make their watch make any noises.  Period.  They can still call or text us (or receive calls and texts), but it will be silent.  There are other little features on there phone that make noises, and they’re disabled during that time.
4: The watches have GPS.  Even though my kids are young and I know where they are at all times, now, I reallllly know where they are.  At any time, I can pull up my Gizmo app and see where they are.
5: They’re waterproof.
6: We were able to set a boundary.  We set a physical boundary, and if our kids go outside of that boundary, we’re notified.  For instance, if Smith wants to walk a few houses down to his friend’s house, I can set a boundary.  If Smith leaves that boundary, I will get a notification.
7: It monitors their steps and activity.
8: There are timers you can set.  This way, I can say “go read for 30 minutes” and they can set a timer to go off when they’re done.
9: There are no apps on the watch and no internet.  It is only for calling and texting who we allow (and at this time, that’s just Andrew and me).

The only negative I’ve found at this time is that you do have to charge it daily (just like an Apple watch).  It says it will go several days without having to be charged, but we’re just getting in the habit of doing it every night while they’re sleeping.

Also, just like an Apple Watch, we had to add this to our Verizon account for $10 a month each.  Now, I have two friends who use another carrier and they were able to buy one and get it set up by visiting the Verizon store even though they don’t use Verizon.  I believe (but could be wrong) that you can just pay Verizon monthly for the watch’s service.  We bought the watch first (directly through their site), and then added it to our account once they arrived, but you can just walk into a store a get one as well.

Now, on day one, Kensington dropped hers and the face of it shattered.  Yes.  Right off the bat.  We contacted Gizmo and because we had the warranty protection, they overnighted us a new one for $20.  She really innocently dropped her’s, and we were happy that it was easily replaced…but our kids will be paying for the replacements in the future.  Sigh.

One last watch related thing.  Remember this…

Apple Watch 4 Review

…my Apple Watch 4 Review?  I’ve owned all four versions of the Apple Watch and reviewed them all HERE.  Well, Andrew has happily only had the Apple Watch 1 since day one and didn’t think he ever needed to upgrade.  Last week, his 1 stopped working, so he contacted Apple and was able to trade it in for a little money to apply to a new one and he begrudgingly bought the 4…and is now obsessed 🙂 . #toldyouso If you need to know why it’s so awesome, you can check that out HERE.

That’s a lot of watch talk for a Monday!

I’m sure I only scratched the surface on this Gizmo thing, so if you have input/ideas/suggestions, please comment and share!!  I would love to hear about other ways we can use the watches!!!


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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog April 8, 2019 at 4:50 am

    I’m always back and forth between whether or not I should get an Apple Watch! So tempting!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Sheaffer Sims April 8, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Think we’re going to have to get Carter a Gizmo! Sounds awesome!

  • Kasie Miller April 8, 2019 at 5:54 am

    Thanks so much for this review! I’ve been hearing a lot about the Gizmo but have never researched it much. Both this and the Garmin seem like fantastic options for my kiddos at their different ages!

  • Jennifer April 8, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Same here! We started with the Garmin Vívofit about 2 years ago and then switched to Gizmo Gadgets last year and love them for the same reasons. We had moved to a bigger neighborhood where the houses are furthe apart and didn’t really know our neighbors yet, so I wanted to be able to contact the kids or for them to contact me, and was very interested in the GPS feature.

  • Narci April 8, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Our kids loved their Garmins!! Great review!!

  • Dustie Day April 8, 2019 at 6:31 am

    Ahhhh, Shay this came at the perfect time. Our son has been spending time at neighborhood houses playing with his buddies and we just said last night we need a GPS tracker watch or something like a gizmo. We don’t have Verizon though so it’s good to know perhaps it can still work?! Thanks so much! I assume the garmin kids doesn’t have a GPS tracker on it? #justneedtoknowatalltimes LOL!

    • Amanda Corrion April 8, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Yes, it will still work! I don’t have Verizon, but my daughter has the watch through Verizon. All in, the bill is about $12/month for her watch.

  • Erika Slaughter April 8, 2019 at 6:32 am

    Listen-you excel at watch reviews! I think it might be some sort of gift you have. For real!

  • Tracy April 8, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Quick question about the Apple watch – do you have a screen protector that you recommend or is this even necessary?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 7:14 am

      I’ve never had one and haven’t had any problems!

      • Joy April 8, 2019 at 8:34 am

        You can definitely get a gizmo without having your phone service through Verizon, they just set you up with a plac specifically for your watch. We love our son’s gizmo, he’s had it for about 1 1/2 years and it is still going strong. One of my favorite features that you didn’t mention is you can make it so the caregiver’s call is automatically answered after a certain amount of rings. I love that because my son can’t ignore me lol. I love that it doesn’t have a camera or internet or games on it. I feel comfortable with him wearing it to school/church/etc and know it won’t be a distraction. My son has a ton of anxiety and this helps him know that he has a way to contact us if he ever needed to. We also put in his grandparents numbers, his cousin and a couple aunts/uncles. We live away from family and it brings me comfort to know he can get a hold of family if he needs to.
        Another tip- we preprogrammed the non-emergency police number for our area in their phone (it won’t let you do 911). My son has never called it but knows it’s there if he needs help and can’t get a hold of anyone else (or it’s an emergency).

  • Danielle April 8, 2019 at 6:56 am

    We have had the Gizmos for three years-I currently have an 11 and 9 year old. They ride their bikes to friends houses or to the neighborhood playground. I like being able to track where they are without having to call them a hundred times. I also like that they can call/text in an emergency. And for $10 a month it is totally worth it. Even when they are at a friends house, I can contact them without having to bother the parents. HIGHLY recommend the Gizmo!

  • amanda April 8, 2019 at 6:57 am

    i got my son the non-touch screen version last year. I bought the screen protector for it. he has an ipod he can text and call from when it’s hooked up to wifi – but we have him wear his gizmo when we are going to somewhere there are large crowds and he can get lost easily. that way we can track him and we can call if he/we can’t find him.

  • Christy April 8, 2019 at 7:03 am

    We bought our younger kiddo a garmin for Christmas…. he is totally obsessed, wears it 24/7.. truly. The only issue is that in February his battery went totally out, so they replaced it. Now here it is April and there is a red line at the top (indicating low battery), has this happened to you guys? Thanks! Just curious.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 7:14 am

      Our first one lasted 11 months and then they were on their second ones which have lasted 12 months now.

  • Brandi April 8, 2019 at 7:03 am

    We crazy love our Gizmo! My nine year old got it for Christmas and has used it daily since. I love that it gives him the freedom he needs to take safe risks in order to develop and let’s me control/stalk so my mama’s heart isn’t freaking out. We are AT&T and just got him his own little Verizon account to pay the $10 a month. I love that it doesn’t have games to bec a distraction at school and he loves the activity monitors. We do after school care and I am constantly running late because of Dallas traffic, so I love that I can call and say “put your cleats on, I’m almost there” and have time to eat something quick at home since he is dressed for practice.

  • Catie April 8, 2019 at 7:04 am

    We have Gizmos for all three of my boys (9, 9, 5) and I am obsessed! We go to Universal and Disney several times a year and the watches give me such peace of mind! I even love them in Costco and Target when someone inevitably has to use the bathroom especially as a mom of all boys since they are always headed in without me. They’re great at the zoo, on walks, for letting them ride bikes around the block, the list goes on!! I also feel fine leaving my big two at home now if I need to run to the grocery quick (2 miles away) with my youngest. Love, love , love our Gizmos!

  • Elspeth Mizner April 8, 2019 at 7:05 am

    My brother got a gizmo watch before he got a cell phone, it was a great stepping stone and taught him responsibility and my parents felt safe that they knew where he was at all times and could reach him if necessary. Great review! I’m sure your kids will love them! Have a great week Shay!

  • Shannon April 8, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Could they call 911 from it?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 7:34 am

      Good question! I think if I had it programmed in, they could!! That’s a great idea!

    • Joy April 8, 2019 at 8:39 am

      You can’t put 911 in the phone but we have put in the non-emergency police line for our area in our son’s phone :).

  • Julie Pedersen April 8, 2019 at 7:18 am

    I have a love hate relationship with Garmins. The idea and limitations are great and my own child has one. I think it is a great step towards a phone in the future. I also teach second grade and many of my kids have them. Some can handle it and some mess with it all day! Our school’s policy is they are like cell phones so no calling or texting during the day. But….parents text their children while they are at school which is a huge distraction to the child. I wish that feature could be turned off as well. Maybe in the future!

  • Mother Henn April 8, 2019 at 7:49 am

    We have been contemplating the Gizmo pal for our 8 year old. Thanks for the review….it helps!

  • Shannon April 8, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Love our Gizmo! We also like using the task option. Every morning my daughter gets a pop up task message to make sure she has her homework, school iPad and lunch in her bag. She has to mark it off completed each morning, so it gives a great reminder and makes her responsible for herself!

  • Sarah April 8, 2019 at 8:43 am

    We’ve also had a Garmin for my 4th grader. She got it before 3rd grade and it was awesome! Total game changer that gave us such peace of mind…until this spring when it was no longer “cool” to wear it. Many of her friends have phones now, which we are definitely not ready for, so now it is serving time as a very expensive clock on her bedside table. I’m hoping to find some sort of device (maybe it’s just a flip phone) that I can text her on but where she can’t access the internet.

  • Laura April 8, 2019 at 8:44 am

    My oldest daughter has had a gizmo for a couple years now and we are looking at getting one for my youngest. They switched the band though and I was wondering, does it stay on ok with it just snapping?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 11:32 am

      It actually goes on just like my Apple Watch band and seems to work great!!

  • Kate April 8, 2019 at 8:52 am

    My kiddo just might have to get this for X-Mas. My older son has a phone but this would be perfect for my younger son! Thanks for the review!!

  • Shannon April 8, 2019 at 8:57 am

    We purchased a Gizmo for our son when he was around 9 years old. I think the technology has come a long way since then (he’s now 13 and upgraded to an old iPhone). We absolutely loved having it. We live in a super small town and the kids tend to say they are meeting at one person’s house, but end up moving down two houses because others are outside, then go back and forth down the couple blocks. I loved not having to worry about his whereabouts…I could just look! The other thing I loved about it was that when we were ready to move him to an actual cell phone, we could keep the same phone number!

  • Alyssa April 8, 2019 at 9:05 am

    As a teacher, I wish kids left these watches at home. It is very distracting to be getting text messages from their parents throughout the school day. I had to create a policy in my class that they get kept in the same holder that cell phones do. If a parent needs to contact/pass a message to their child they should call the school or contact me (the teacher) via our class dojo app, not be texting or calling their watch! It has added a whole new level of distraction to the classroom.

  • Amanda Wilson April 8, 2019 at 9:09 am

    I watched the McCann series and am now completely traumatized as well….that is my WORST nightmare. Not knowing…..I have added the McCanns to my prayers as my heart breaks for them. The part about the book of kids that have been sold into dex trafficking….🤮 😡 Clearly still traumatized over here……

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 11:31 am


  • Casey April 8, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Ahhh this is such a discussion in our house right now. We have an 11 yr old (who has a Garmin) and will be starting middle school next year. We really don’t want him to have a phone, but the mama in me needs to know he’s ok. He struggles with anxiety and I am so stressed about middle school. I’m afraid he’ll think the Gizmo is little kiddish. What are your thoughts on what you’ll do when yours start middle school? I was thinking maybe an Apple Watch (give him mine which is a 2) but I don’t think you can track apple watches can you??

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 11:31 am

      I’m thinking my kids will still wear some sort of Gizmo type watch in middle school. I might change my mind, but as of today, that’s my plan!

      • Annaliese April 13, 2019 at 9:59 am

        Do you know if there is a way to turn off some of the notifications? That has been my only issue. Its constantly checking in. Otherwise, it’s been great!

        • Mix and Match Mama April 14, 2019 at 5:56 am

          I’m not sure about that???

  • Sarah M. April 8, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Our son has had the Garmin for awhile and we like it a lot. I am not sure how I feel about this new one. I’m torn between wanting to protect him all of the time (hello abduction docs!) but also wanting to foster independence and trust without tracking him all of the time. But maybe this is just the way we are headed – being connected all of the time. I’m not sure. I don’t know if the threat of danger is high enough to warrant it (but isn’t any threat enough of a reason?!). Being a parent is hard.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 11:30 am


  • Kyndra Gillory April 8, 2019 at 10:00 am

    My boys have a version where it only programs 4 numbers that can called/be called and there is no texting. It doesn’t have the activity trackers, just GPS and calling. I think it’s a good option for younger kids. I like that you can set up who they can call and who can call them!

  • Allison April 8, 2019 at 10:46 am

    My daughter loves the gizmo and I love the piece of mind it affords. Question though, have you found any sources for watch bands for the gizmo? My 10 year old is dying for a fun band option like those available for apple watches.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 11:30 am

      Ohhhh! I haven’t even looked! I will though!

  • MelanieL April 8, 2019 at 11:00 am

    We had the very early version of this for our kids several years ago…Gizmo Pal. We loved it so I’m sure this new version is amazing with the touch screen and text features. About 911…on our older versions the numbers they were allowed to call had to be “confirmed” by the user of that number and have the app. For example a landline could not be used because there’s no way to install the app, etc.

  • Jen April 8, 2019 at 11:03 am

    We both have Apple watches and got one of these for our son about four months ago. I am very, very pleased with the Gizmo so far! There were a few hiccups where it got a bit distracting in school, but we’re past that now and he’s able to leave it alone and just use it as a watch during school hours. I would highly recommend it!

  • Carrie Murray April 8, 2019 at 11:07 am

    I love this idea! We have 9, 6 and 3 and think this would be great especially for my 9 year old. However, I think this would be even better for my mother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My father has been looking for something simple that she could wear that would allow us to keep track of her. This sounds like it might fit the bill! Thanks for sharing:)

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 11:30 am

      What a fantastic idea!

  • Mandy April 8, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Shay! Not a comment about watches (pregnant with my first, so no need for that yet!), but was wondering if you know anything about Cape Cod? I know you and Andrew love Nantucket, but wanting to plan a quick long weekend trip for my husband and I before our baby comes and was considering doing a night or two in Boston and a couple nights in Cape Cod maybe. I love Boston, but my husband has never been, so thinking this might be a fun trip for us. Would love any thoughts on Cape Cod if you’ve been. Thanks!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      Yes! Growing up, we went all the time. My parents still do. They love to visit and stay in Sandwich, Chatham and Hyannis 🙂 .

  • Leah Z April 8, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Our 13 year old got one of these a few months ago because we’re not ready to trust him with a real cellphone yet (he loses EVERYTHING) . We thought this would be a great in between option – and a lot cheaper per month than even a flip phone. We have so much trouble with it being reliable though! Sometimes we get the texts and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we get notifications of new texts and sometimes we don’t. Phone calls seem to always work, so maybe it’s a signal issue? The thing is, we have no trouble at all with Verizon in our area, so it seems like it wouldn’t be the signal? We’re actually having a new one shipped to us today in case the watch itself is defective. I hope it works, because we really think the Gizmo is a good option before getting a real phone!

    • Mix and Match Mama April 8, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      Really? We’ve only had it two weeks, but so far, no problems.

  • BP April 8, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I’m so glad you mentioned that you set it to quiet 8 am – 3 pm. As a teacher I was reading this thinking, “Oh no, another obstacle for teachers!” (And allow me to pause I acknowledge that your children would not be the problem). But kids and technology can be a HUGE distraction at school. For example, we had a kindergartner in a children’s program at church last year call her mom during prayer time!! Why?!? She was far too young to even have a Gizmo. Sigh. Thank you for insight on this product. It is great for younger children.

  • Jeannie April 8, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    This watch sounds amazing! Having grown kids (in college) I’ll suggest you have them charge their watches downstairs overnight 🙂 It will be a great foundation for when they are older and have smart phones. Middle schoolers and high schoolers need strong boundaries with technology! You’re a fantastic mom so you’ve probably already thought of this. Happy Monday!

  • Jamie April 8, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Those look like a new version. My daughter’s is only $5 per month. I love the auto answer feature too. It’s been super durable other than the buckle, it comes plastic, but we were able to find a metal one on amazon. We’ve been really pleased. She’s had it almost 3 years.

  • Susie April 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    My kids have the Garmin vívofit jr. How are the kids able to log their reading minutes?? I have only been able to find that I have to log everything on the app after they tell me they’ve done it. Am I missing something??

  • Kristy April 8, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    Netflix is going to be the death of me too! The McAnn documentary really messed me up and I can’t stop thinking about it… breaks my heart for humanity and all those poor children. I just can’t. I was already mama bear paranoid but this brings it to a new level – I’m now convinced that traffickers are lurking in every corner! 😱 I only have a kindergartner so I wasn’t even aware these watches were a thing but I love the idea of the Garmin! I’m just wondering if this is opening the doorway to a phone sooner than I would like… safety is key though so I’m definitely checking the garmin out!

  • Lauren April 8, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    My sister got my 10 year old niece one of the Gizmos a few months back. I highly recommend adding your parents and siblings to their okay list. A few weeks back my sister was pulled into an emergency surgery (nicu nurse) and was late to pick up my niece. Luckily she was able to call me and I went and grabbed her and no one knew the better! It’s also just a super fun way for us aunt’s and uncles to give a little love to the little ones!

  • Becky Reid April 9, 2019 at 7:57 am

    My two kids each of the Garmin, which we all LOVE. But, I feel this option may be great for my almost 9 year old. Does anyone know if there is a Canadian cell phone carrier that will allow you to add this to the plan? Shay’s link only shows the Verizon version…Thanks in advance!

  • Katie April 9, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    These are awesome!!! I love that you set limits for them because as a teacher, of 4th graders, I have experienced first hand the Gizmo watches making noises all. day. long. I know your kids wouldn’t do it (because you’re so awesome and have taught them so well), but I would continue to talk to them about appropriate vs. inappropriate times to text during school. Example: recess. I have caught quite a few of my students texting their parents during a lesson, don’t want that for your kiddos!

  • Chasity Reeves April 9, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    We have an 11 year old and made limits long ago that our children could not have a phone until they were 13. But fast forward a few years and now my oldest is almost 17 and works so she will be alone for short periods of time this summer. We disconnected our home phone last year! So this sounds like my answer for her but my question… Can you dial 911 from the watch in case of emergency? Thanks for sharing this!

  • Stacey April 10, 2019 at 9:48 am

    You should read The Coddling of the American Mind and you will feel the opposite about worrying about abduction and it’s all research based.

    • Mix and Match Mama April 10, 2019 at 12:03 pm

      You know how much I love a good book!!

  • Ina April 12, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Shay, if you could buy the apple watch 3 cheaper than the gizmo watch for your kids would you do it? If not, what are the major reasons?

    • Mix and Match Mama April 12, 2019 at 8:40 am

      No because I don’t want my kids (at this age) to have to have a phone to access their watch and don’t want them to have internet, ability to call/text just anyone they wanted.

  • Ashley April 17, 2019 at 10:58 am

    While I’m with you on keeping the kiddos safe (we live in such a sick world) the only thing that concerns me is the fact these use Bluetooth and Bluetooth radiation can be even more dangerous to the blood brain barrier than cell phone radiation. I’ve seen too many kiddos with brain tumors these days and it’s hard to not think about the connection. These are definitely the Wild Wild West days of tech.