Learning financial literacy is important at any age, and tech startup Mellow thinks it’s best to do it as early as possible.
The company is working on a Mellow watch (opens in new tab), a colorful smartwatch designed to teach children as young as five the ever-important subject of money and spend it responsibly. Despite looking like a toy, it allows contactless payment and a range of security features.
As described, the Mellow Watch can be seen as a mini smartwatch. It focuses on teaching financial literacy to children aged five to 13, but has some typical smartwatch features.
For starters, the watch has a virtual debit card that links to a parent’s bank account via the Parental App, allowing multiple devices to be managed. Parents can provide a daily allowance to the watch and set rules about how the money is spent. The Mellow Watch works wherever contactless payments are accepted, with the transactions appearing on the parent app. And if the kid gets a little crazy spending money, notifications pop up to slow it down.
To make financial literacy more attractive to young people, the developers have added some game-like modes. Parents can turn on Task Based Allowance and let their kids earn money doing chores. Targeted savings are daily challenges that encourage children to save money and develop a saving habit.
The Mellow Watch also functions as a telephone. It works on the 4G LTE network for calling or texting on the touchscreen. The screen is quite small, but since it’s for kids, their hands should be small enough to type something out.
The security features on the device are also quite robust. There is real-time GPS tracking and the watch automatically blocks unrecognized numbers. If you’re concerned about your financial data leaking, Mellow states the device complies with EMVco and PCI DSSthese are security standards designed by major credit card companies to protect sensitive information.
It even has a pedometer in it for good measure. The only thing missing is a suite of apps. We asked Mellow if entertainment apps, like YouTube, will make their way to the smartwatch. We’ll update this story if we hear anything.
If you are interested in buying one, you will have to wait a while. The Mellow Watch will launch on a Kickstarter campaign starting August 15. It is unknown how much the watch will cost or what package deals will be available. You can sign up for an email notification when the campaign starts.
Analysis: misplaced target audience
Admittedly, this is an interesting piece of technology, but we wonder how useful it will be. Teaching young children financial literacy is commendable, but are young children able to understand money and the responsibility that comes with it? It seems that even Mellow is questioning himself on that front.
In addition to the allowance, parents can give Star Points to their young children in lieu of money. It doesn’t look like the points can be used to buy anything; they are just collectibles. If that’s the case, don’t teach your kids about finance. Instead, you teach kids how to play a game and collect points. A real-world application is important.
In addition, this device seems better suited for older children, especially because it is so complex. A 13-year-old can navigate this mini smartwatch, but can a five-year-old too? Should she? Kids are smart, but you still need to make it simple. In the end, we can only speculate until the official launch.
If you’re interested in kid-centric technology, we have a: list of the best laptops for children. They are made to be easy to use and to withstand rough handling.