In the US, parents have begun to buy Apple Watch more often for children aged 5 and over, with the aim of using it as a temporary replacement for a smartphone. As Apple’s smartwatches have mobile and web-enabled versions, parents can contact and monitor their children, but the watch’s miniature screens mitigate internet and gaming addiction, reports The New York Times.

Children and teenagers have become a disproportionately large market for smartwatches. In a 2020 survey of American teenagers conducted by the investment bank Piper Sandler, 31% of respondents indicated that they own a smartwatch. That same year, 21% of adults in the United States owned an Apple Watch, according to the Pew Research Center. The use of smartwatches as a children’s gadget shows how the audience of a technology product for consumers can change in unexpected ways.

However, it is worth noting that Apple has deliberately turned the watch into a device that can be attractive to children in the eyes of parents. In 2020, the company released the Apple Watch SE, which has fewer features and costs $120 less. Apple also introduced Family Setup software, which allows parents to track their children’s location, manage their contact list and limit notifications.

Two people familiar with the project, who were not authorized to speak publicly, told The New York Times that the Cupertino-based company was trying to make the Apple Watch a convenient smartphone replacement for children as young as three. The main concern was battery life, as they said the watch used more power when running independently of the iPhone.

Soon, Apple plans to compete more for young buyers of smartwatches. In particular, the presentation of a new version of the Apple Watch, which will be cheaper than the Apple Watch SE, is planned on Wednesday, say two sources of the media. The model will be presented alongside other new versions of the watch, including Apple Watch Pro for athletes, which will compete with watches from Garmin.

Apple cited a statement from Jeff Williams, Chief operating officer, who said: “For family members who do not have an iPhone, Apple Watch offers a remarkable set of features that can help them keep in touch with loved ones, be more active, and stay safe”.