Simple walkie-talkie recommendations
Recommendations for good, simple walkie talkies, or similar "Where are you, kid?" devices.
My son has started going off on bike rides around the neighborhood and beyond. I'm looking for a simple way to keep in touch with him (let him know it's time to come home, let him tell us he has a flat tire, etc). We have some Motorola radios but they have too many features for him.
Can he understand how to operate a cell phone? These pre-paid minute cell phones are lousy if you really need to talk a lot, but they're great for emergency carry-if-you-need-help situations. Also good because if he really gets in a jam, he can call 911.
He could do a simple cell phone, but I'd rather have something that worked just for calling home and that could be used to talk frequently without worrying about the cost. We got these Motorola walkie-talkies at Radio Shack for a road trip and they were cheap, effective and very easy to use. I haven't thought to let my kids experiment with them but I'll let them try this weekend and give you an update on their success. Also, you might have already seen this review specifically of walkie-talkies for kids but there are some other models to consider. I never found a decent/functional/not a toy two-way radio that didn't have too many buttons for my kids. What I did find though is that some have a keypad lock. Awesome! So the kids can mash as many buttons as they want without changing channels and losing contact.
The model you have now probably has that feature. While I was googling to make sure I'm not full of crap I found that some Cobra models have "child alerts" because of battery related burn injuries. Sorry if you've already explored all the Motorola options and this info is is totally useless but this question inspired me to dig them up and I figured I'd share the info.
So, it turns out I have two sets of walkie-talkies. I got them both out and let the kids loose and this is what I've figured out so far. I have the Motarola T5100 Walkabout & some version of a Maxus (which I think is an old Radio Shack brand). The Motarola set is much larger (probably twice the size) but the kids seem to prefer it (the Maxus has a lot of button and might seem confusing to them) and they (6 & 4 years old) seem to have mastered the basic functionality of pressing to talk and letting up to listen.
There is one large knob to turn it on and adjust volume (which I think is good), one button in the middle to talk and two buttons on the front right to change the channel. I think that if you just set the channel before he sets off than he probably won't ever have to touch those buttons at all. The talk button is located in the front in the middle. I don't like this (I'd prefer the side) but the kids seem to like pressing the middle and holding it up directly to their mouths. You might want to do a few test runs in the neighborhood on the various channels to discover if you get interference and then just leave it on a channel you both agree on.