When we first received the PR news about a new smart watch for kids, I was cautiously intrigued. Having my own little ones running around the house, this seemed like something perfectly aimed for my house, particularly as my girls are in to watches, inasmuch as they know dad likes them, so they do to. So, we’ve been spending some time with the Octopus by Joy as of late.
As I predicted, when we got the Octopus by Joy in the house, there was a lot of wrangling as to who got to wear it. The older girls worked out a rotation, and then it was just up to me to get the thing setup. First up was getting the app onto a device – in this case, I opted my wife’s iPad, since that’s always home. Once the app was in place, and an account was setup, it was time to create the schedule to sync on to the watch.
Why a schedule? Well, the Octopus by Joy relies on a standard, repeating schedules to have wrist-mounted reminders buzzing to remind the child, say, to brush teeth in the morning, or clean up their activity before dinner time. The syncing is the key here – rather than relying on an always-on bluetooth connection, it syncs the schedule over (you can set it by weekday, weekends, days of week, etc) and then shuts it’s radios off. This helps save battery life, and of course protects the kiddos from any potentially risky radio waves (I’m not saying if they are or are not – but if I can shut them off, I’mma going to do so).
Setting up a schedule for my girls on the Octopus by Joy was simultaneously simple and frustrating. It was simple due to the fact that we homeschool, and I could set a fairly rudimentary schedule that would work for either, no matter who was wearing it. The frustrating bit was in the app itself when I had to delete a LOT of preset stuff that I didn’t need in the mix. It may help speed setup up for some, but for me, it was a hindrance. I would have much preferred a blank slate to set things up on.
Once things are setup, you sync it over, and then hand it off to the kids. And there came the first frustration – the stock strap. I understand that they wanted something robust, and were trying to keep costs down, but this strap was awful. It was too stiff to be easily flexible, and the included keeper was just barely big enough to keep a double layer inside it – meaning it was hard to slip the strap through. Also of note, on my older girl’s wrist, it barely fit. So this may just be for your younger kids.
Once it’s one, the kids were enthused to have the Apple Watch-like Octopus by Joy on their wrist. If they wanted to check the time, they just had to press the button at the corner, and the screen would light up. It would also kick on with icons throughout the day (say, with a toothbrush) to remind them of what they needed to do. It’s a way of giving the child some responsibility, along with freedom to keep on top of those responsibilities, without the parents having to stay on top of them.
And, in theory, the child can gain “points” as they complete their reminders on the Octopus by Joy, sort of gamifying the experience. For my kids, though, they quickly lost interest in wearing the watch. It just wasn’t part of their routine, and then I’d have to get it charged (with a magsafe-like connector), and resync things, and so on (there is an optional dock that would help to do that overnight, while also acting as a nightlight). So, while I thought my kids would be all over the Octopus by Joy, at the end of the day, it really didn’t work for them.
Of course, with the homeschooling, we’re around them all day, and can help them remember what they need to do. If your kids are off to school during the day, this could help them to remember things. Or, in reading some of the other reviews, it seems that children with autism have responded well to the Octopus by Joy. That I can’t speak to. As far as devices go, it’s fairly straightforward, and introduces kids to the idea of watches in general, and smartwatches in specific. I just hope that in future iterations they pay some more attention to that strap, as it’s going to be frustrating for most. heyjoy.io
- Brand & Model: Octopus by Joy
- Price: $79.99 (currently listed as $59.99 on their site)
- Who’s it for? Kids who want a watch, and need some reminders to keep on schedule and task
- Would I wear it? Me? No. My kids? Maybe. They profess to like it, but actual experience shows them quite quick to forget it.
- What I would change: That strap. Get to a soft-touch silicone, and it would be a lot better.
- The best thing about it: It’s a handy way to keep kids on schedule, even if they can’t read yet.
Tech Specs from Joy
- Weight (watch+bracelet): 0.75 oz (21 grams)
- Dimension (casing only): 1.26 x 1.38 x 0.47 in (3.2 x 3.5 x 1.2 cm)
- Battery Li-ion 75mhA
- Battery life: 2 to 5 days depending on the usage
- Charging duration: 20 min = 65%, 45 min = 85%, 1h20 = 100%
- Hypoallergenic and swappable watchband
- Band fits wrists with a circumference ranging from 4 1/3 to 6 1/3 inches (11 to 16 cm)
- Octopus Watch is not:
- It’s not a step tracker.
- It’s not waterproof (it’s water resistant).
- It doesn’t emit sounds.
- The screen is not a touch screen.
- It’s not a GPS tracker nor a phone.