I want my kids to have the same kind of childhood I did. One where they are free to roam the neighborhood after school, playing with friends until the street lights come on. So I let them go with a reminder to ask their friend's parents to text me and let me know where they end up. Almost every single time, though, they forget. Then, when I need to find them, I'm THAT parent. You know, the one that never knows where their kids are? I frantically text everyone I can think of and ask, "Have you seen Evan? I can't find him! (again)." Ugh. Time-consuming and embarrassing. And sometimes a little scary!
Our family is no stranger to technology. We know we could just buy our 10 and 8-year-olds cell phones. But...yeah, I'd rather not. We did try a kid-geared watch phone with Evan once, but he would never wear it (too uncomfortable). So what can you do besides adding another screen to our already screen-overflowing lives?
I was so excited when the opportunity to review Relay, a screen-free communication device for kids, came to Macaroni Kid publishers. Could this be the solution we've been looking for? Let's find out.
Each Relay device arrived in a neat little package containing the device, a charging cable, instructions for activation and a sheet of stickers for kid customization (yay!). Cole was particularly enamored with the way the Relay charges. It has a magnetic attachment instead of a plug. Cole said, "it's a magnet charger?! This is going to be so much easier for my life. Look how easy mom!" I guess the poor guy struggles a little more with charging things than I realized.
Because we tend to lose things frequently, we also purchased the accessory kit for the Relay, which comes with a case that can be clipped onto a lanyard and worn around the neck, or clipped onto a backpack with a mini carabiner. The lanyard has a safety breakaway so no need to worry about it catching onto something and causing an injury. With two bike riders, I can definitely appreciate that.
|The Relay Accessory Kit|
The Set-up and Activation
Downloading the Relay App to my phone made set-up and activation of our two Relay devices quick and easy. We were ready to try them out and discover all the features. We even downloaded the app to my husband's phone so he could join in on the fun.
Features and How It Works
Message relay - The easiest way I can think of to describe how the Relay works is it's like a walkie-talkie, connected to your phone, but will also record and replay messages. So, if you are actively communicating with your kids, it is like a walkie-talkie. You just push the button and hold to talk. But if you are not in the app on your phone and your child needs to communicate, they can leave a message for you (and the app will notify you, but not interrupt your work meeting with kid chatter!). The kids also love the fact that they can talk directly to each other. Looking for friends in the neighborhood? Evan will go one way, while Cole goes the other. Whoever finds friends first can let the other know with the push of a button. There is even an "everyone" channel, so I can talk or leave a message to everyone connected in our family at once. "Time for dinner!" is so much easier this way.
SOS emergency message relay - But what if your child needs to get a message to you immediately? That's where the "SOS" feature comes in. We tested this feature extensively just to be confident it really works. The child pushes the center button five times rapidly and that activates the SOS. With SOS, every phone app connected to The Relay gets a unique, loud notification sound and vibrations to alert the parent of an important message. Also, the GPS location for the activated Relay updates every 60 seconds. When the emergency is resolved, a parent can deactivate the SOS from the phone app.
GPS location sharing - No more wondering where the kids are! Below is a screenshot from my Relay phone app. I can see exactly where both kids are. And I'm talking, I can tell exactly which house they are in. That's pretty amazing!
|Street names are shown on the map (they have been removed here to protect privacy)|
Joke of the Day, Language Translation and More
There are many channels on the Relay for communication, but some are just for fun or have other useful features. The kids really loved the "joke of the day" channel, maybe even a little TOO much! Their aresnal of silly jokes has recieved a major boost. My favorite channel is the translator. You can record a message in English and then the Relay will play it back for you in Spanish! How amazing is that? Totally wishing I had a Relay in Mexico for my last visit.
Problems and Customer Service
When we started using the Relay and testing everything out, I couldn't get the sound notification for the SOS feature to work on my phone. It would come through on my husband's phone, but not on mine. Thankfully, right in the Relay app, there is a customer service help chat. Someone from Relay responded to me right away and helped me figure out that the notification volume on my phone was turned all the way down! I'm not very tech savvy, so I need all the help I can get sometimes! Now, everything is working wonderfully.
Overall, I found Relay to be a great solution to the communication and tracking problem we were having, at about a third the price of other options. And with the accessory package, the Relay is super easy for my kids to keep track of by wearing it around their neck on the lanyard, or clipping it to a belt loop or backpack. We homeschool, so mostly we will be using ours for when the kids are set free in the neighborhood or in large parks with friends on park days. Now I can easily keep track of them when they are out of sight. For those of you with kids in traditional school, the Relay is #theperfectway for you to send your kids back to school safely. With easy, screen-free communication and location tracking, the kids get a little independence and you get peace of mind!
Visit Relay's website HERE for more information about its features. If social is more your style, check out their social links below!
|Click HERE for Relay on Facebook||Click HERE for Relay on Instagram|
Click HERE for Relay on Twitter
Disclosure: Thank you to Relay for supporting the efforts of Macaroni Kid to provide local moms and dads with kid-related product reviews. We received some free products and compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.
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