A cou­ple of years ago, I bought my then 4‑year-old a cou­ple of walkie-talkies for tod­dlers… The usage con­cept didn’t take.  Last week, I put a Baofeng UV-5R in her hands that was tuned for an FRS chan­nel.  She imme­di­ate­ly grasped the con­cept and asked me what my secret code name was.  Her’s in case you were won­der­ing, is “Uni­corn Blastoff.” Which I think is like­ly a first-time secret call sign use… 

I imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nized this was a SHTF skill train­ing she could now par­tic­i­pate in.  How excit­ed am I you ask?  Well, with­out mak­ing the video of me jump­ing up and down in excite­ment, I’ll leave you with that and your imag­i­na­tion.  LOL.  Addi­tion­al­ly, it spawned the con­cept for this blog post which I hope you think makes sense.  Teach­ing her how to com­mu­ni­cate from a dis­tance, artic­u­late what she needs to con­vey, and allow her to do it autonomous­ly was pret­ty cool… And away we go… 

The Benefits of Playing with Walkie-Talkies with Your Kids from a Preparedness Perspective

Inte­grat­ing walkie-talkies into play­time with your chil­dren isn’t just about reliv­ing a piece of nos­tal­gic tech­nol­o­gy; it’s a strate­gic move toward fos­ter­ing a cul­ture of pre­pared­ness and safe­ty with­in the fam­i­ly. These com­pact, easy-to-use devices can be pow­er­ful tools in teach­ing kids essen­tial life skills, cru­cial for emer­gen­cies and every­day com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

First­ly, walkie-talkies can intro­duce chil­dren to the basics of effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I imme­di­ate­ly noticed my daughter’s thoughts and com­mu­ni­ca­tions with me were short­er and more con­cise.  I feel that chil­dren can learn to effec­tive­ly con­vey mes­sages clear­ly and lis­ten atten­tive­ly for updates.  These are skills that are invalu­able dur­ing emer­gen­cies when every word counts. This prac­tice in brevi­ty and clar­i­ty can sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact their abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate in all aspects of life, not just a SHTF sit­u­a­tion.

As we con­tin­ued to play with them, she seemed to lis­ten more atten­tive­ly, and took direc­tion the first time, with less hes­i­ta­tion, as well as more pre­cise exe­cu­tion.  I know that may sound weird, but I feel that the use of walkie-talkies can sig­nif­i­cant­ly enhance a child’s spa­tial aware­ness and under­stand­ing of direc­tions after this exer­cise. Through fun and engag­ing, she was almost imme­di­ate­ly more attuned to her lis­ten­ing envi­ron­ment, wait­ing for me to update her, and in turn, she was learn­ing to nav­i­gate the Baofeng, ask­ing me usage ques­tions via the wire­less comms, as she became more famil­iar and com­fort­able with the plat­form.  I feel like this aware­ness is crit­i­cal not only for per­son­al safe­ty but also for devel­op­ing a keen sense of ori­en­ta­tion going for­ward.  We’ll con­tin­ue this train­ing for sure.

I think this also can encour­age team­work and lead­er­ship among younger kids.… Since she has tak­en on the role of “Uni­corn Blastoff” I am going to assign her roles dur­ing play, such as team leader or team look-out, to poten­tial­ly mir­ror real-life sce­nar­ios, teach­ing her the impor­tance of col­lab­o­ra­tion, quick deci­sion-mak­ing, and the respon­si­bil­i­ty of help­ing her­self or her fam­i­ly.

In essence, I think this is going to serve as an enjoy­able and edu­ca­tion­al tool, prepar­ing her for unfore­seen sit­u­a­tions with more con­fi­dence. By incor­po­rat­ing a walkie-talkie or the Baofengs into fam­i­ly activ­i­ties, I hope to equip their equip her with vital com­mu­ni­ca­tion, lead­er­ship, and nav­i­ga­tion­al skills, all while cre­at­ing fun expe­ri­ences for us to remem­ber as she gets old­er.

Understanding Walkie-Talkies & Communication Devices Like Them

Walkie-talkies, along with sim­i­lar devices, like the Baofeng UV-5R, offer a fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse into the world of wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion, serv­ing as both edu­ca­tion­al tools and prac­ti­cal devices for every­day use. I remem­ber, as a kid play­ing with walkie-talkies, and found them fas­ci­nat­ing.  As we all know these devices oper­ate on radio fre­quen­cies, allow­ing users to com­mu­ni­cate over dis­tances with­out the need for cel­lu­lar data or Wi-Fi net­works.  The per­fect alter­na­tive in a SHTF if the cel­lu­lar net­work goes down and you have enough range to com­mu­ni­cate with a loved one, friends, or your Mutu­al Assis­tance Group. This fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tic makes them invalu­able in areas where tra­di­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods are unre­li­able or unavail­able.

For chil­dren, walkie-talkies are more than just toys; they are an intro­duc­tion to the prin­ci­ples of radio com­mu­ni­ca­tion. By using these devices, kids can be taught and learn about the impor­tance of clear fre­quen­cies, the con­cept of push-to-talk (PTT), and how to share a chan­nel with mul­ti­ple users, which is of course its own eti­quette. This hands-on expe­ri­ence with radio devices can spark an inter­est in sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy, lay­ing the ground­work for future learn­ing in these fields.  Not that that is what I am going for here, but could act as a bonus if that is the direc­tion she wants to go.  She’s 7, and I know I am get­ting ahead of myself, but hey, I’m a hope­ful Dad… 

More­over, walkie-talkies and sim­i­lar devices like CB radios or even ama­teur (ham), intro­duce users to the con­cept of com­mu­ni­ca­tion eti­quette. Chil­dren learn to wait their turn to speak, use clear and con­cise lan­guage, and under­stand the impor­tance of lis­ten­ing when oth­ers are talk­ing. These skills are trans­fer­able to many areas of life, includ­ing effec­tive use of dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms like Zoom, Google Meet, etc.

In addi­tion to walkie-talkies, there are oth­er sim­ple com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices that oper­ate on sim­i­lar prin­ci­ples, such as two-way radios with more advanced fea­tures like pri­va­cy codes and longer-range capa­bil­i­ties. These devices can offer a deep­er under­stand­ing of radio com­mu­ni­ca­tion and are an excel­lent way for fam­i­lies to stay con­nect­ed dur­ing out­door adven­tures, com­mu­ni­ty events, or in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.  We’ll explore this as she gets old­er if she con­tin­ues to have inter­est.  Albeit, I am con­vinced I can have her at a basic pro­fi­cien­cy lev­el soon.

Enhancing Communication Skills

These devices neces­si­tate the use of clear, con­cise lan­guage, as the medi­um does not allow for the visu­al cues and body lan­guage present in face-to-face con­ver­sa­tions. This lim­i­ta­tion chal­lenges chil­dren to express their thoughts and needs more effec­tive­ly, fos­ter­ing a skill set that is cru­cial for both every­day inter­ac­tions and emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.

More­over, the push-to-talk mech­a­nism of walkie-talkies teach­es chil­dren the impor­tance of tak­ing turns in con­ver­sa­tion, which has been a chal­lenge in the par­ent-child nego­ti­a­tion process. Uni­corn Blastoff seems to lis­ten more atten­tive­ly when it’s anoth­er per­son­’s turn to speak, with the assump­tion that there is an under­stand­ing that com­mu­ni­ca­tion is as much about lis­ten­ing as it is about talk­ing. So, “I think” and I empha­size, “I think” the aspect of walkie-talkie use can sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve her active lis­ten­ing skills over time.

One thing I noticed, is that using walkie-talkies almost imme­di­ate­ly intro­duced her to basic com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­to­cols, such as start­ing a trans­mis­sion with a call sign such as “Uni­corn Blastoff” or end­ing a mes­sage with “over” to sig­ni­fy that it’s the oth­er per­son­’s turn to speak. These pro­to­cols not only added an ele­ment of fun and real­ism to her play but also quick­ly instilled an under­stand­ing of struc­tured com­mu­ni­ca­tion, hope­ful­ly prepar­ing her for more for­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tion envi­ron­ments in the future.

Building Teamwork and Leadership Skills

I may be get­ting ahead of myself here, but… I think through play­ing walkie-talkie games with Uni­corn Blastoff, she can learn the impor­tance of work­ing togeth­er and some lead­er­ship skills…. We’re going to work on this and I will report back with updates over time.  

Thoughts on Teaching Direction and Spatial Awareness

So, I’m a first-time Dad of an only child.  What I know about “dadding” can fill a thim­ble, because I am sim­ply learn­ing as I go.  

First, let’s define spa­tial aware­ness for those unaware of the ter­mi­nol­o­gy.  You could exchange is for sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness, but I think the first step is the real­iza­tion of spa­tial aware­ness and then you can teach the sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness part lat­er or as you go.  Spa­tial aware­ness is like know­ing where you are in a room and where every­thing else is too, for all intents and pur­pos­es.  Sounds easy enough, but it is also being able to tell how far away things are, which way they’re fac­ing, and how they fit togeth­er, kind of like when you’re child is learn­ing from play­ing with build­ing blocks. It helps you or them to move around with­out bump­ing into stuff, fig­ure out puz­zles, and under­stand how dif­fer­ent things can fit togeth­er or how far you need to throw a ball to reach your Mom, Dad, or their friend. It’s impor­tant for doing well in school sub­jects like math and art, and for play­ing sports or games where they need to move and think about where things are at the same time. Or to over­sim­pli­fy it; “be care­ful run­ning around the room, I don’t want you to fall and crack your head on the cof­fee table.  LOL.

That said, teach­ing direc­tion and spa­tial aware­ness through the use of walkie-talkies offers a unique and engag­ing approach to learn­ing that extends beyond tra­di­tion­al meth­ods… This hands-on expe­ri­ence seems to encour­age my daugh­ter to inter­act with her envi­ron­ment in a more mean­ing­ful way, devel­op­ing skills that are cru­cial for their over­all growth and safe­ty.  She seems more descrip­tive when she is talk­ing to me on the Baofeng, being more clear, and describ­ing in bet­ter detail what she is doing or going to do.

So my hypoth­e­sis is that when (maybe not all but I sus­pect many or most) chil­dren are taught to use walkie-talkies to nav­i­gate to spe­cif­ic loca­tions or coor­di­nate move­ments with their coun­ter­parts, they are active­ly learn­ing to under­stand and com­mu­ni­cate about space and direc­tion. I sus­pect, this process enhances their abil­i­ty to visu­al­ize land­marks, com­pre­hend geo­graph­ic con­cepts, and apply these skills in real-world sce­nar­ios. For instance, I can see my daugh­ter play­ing with a friend with a cou­ple of walkie talkies to direct a friend to a hid­den trea­sure for fun.

I’ll bet these activ­i­ties can boost a kid’s con­fi­dence in their aware­ness and nav­i­ga­tion­al skills. As they become more adept at using land­marks, direc­tions, and dis­tance esti­ma­tions, dan­gers, etc, their sense of inde­pen­dence and self-reliance will grow. This con­fi­dence is invalu­able, and exact­ly what I want for “Uni­corn Blastoff” not only in out­door adven­tures but also in every­day sit­u­a­tions where ori­en­ta­tion skills are need­ed in the future.

For­ward look­ing, I think that incor­po­rat­ing walkie-talkies into spa­tial aware­ness and direc­tion teach­ing will not only makes learn­ing fun for her, but also will embed essen­tial life skills in her. 

Emergency Preparedness and Safety Skills

As you can imag­ine, this is where I was going when I hand­ed her the Baofeng.  I want­ed her to get a feel for the plat­form, even if we only stayed on one chan­nel.  She caught on the PTT imme­di­ate­ly and was active­ly engaged in two-way con­ver­sa­tions.  Which was awe­some.

Start­ing to teach her about emer­gency pre­pared­ness and safe­ty skills is cru­cial to me as her father, and radio com­mu­ni­ca­tions can play a key role in this edu­ca­tion. These devices offer a prac­ti­cal and inter­ac­tive way to intro­duce her to the basics of emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tion, help­ing her to under­stand how to stay con­nect­ed in sit­u­a­tions where tra­di­tion­al means might fail. Grant­ed, she does not have a mobile phone, but I have been think­ing about buy­ing her a watch that can call Mom & Dad and has an SOS fea­ture, as well as a GPS sig­nal where you can track your kid­do whether in or not in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.  My fear is abuse of the call Mom & Dad fea­ture…

What I noticed, is that when she was able to con­vey infor­ma­tion quick­ly and clear­ly, and con­tin­ued use and train­ing could teach this as a vital skill dur­ing emer­gen­cies. For exam­ple, even­tu­al­ly, we will prac­tice send­ing dis­tress sig­nals or com­mu­ni­cat­ing her loca­tion pre­tend­ing to become sep­a­rat­ed from a group. This kind of role-play­ing not only makes the learn­ing process engag­ing but also instills con­fi­dence in chil­dren, ensur­ing they know what to do in real-life sce­nar­ios.

They can also teach chil­dren about the impor­tance of hav­ing a pre-deter­mined meet­ing point and how to nav­i­gate their way to safe­ty. Par­ents can cre­ate sce­nar­ios where chil­dren must use their devices to coor­di­nate a ren­dezvous, rein­forc­ing the con­cept of stay­ing calm and col­lect­ed under pres­sure.  This is a lit­tle advanced for Uni­corn Blastoff yet, but we will get there.

Incor­po­rat­ing walkie-talkies into emer­gency pre­pared­ness drills can also high­light the tem­po­rary nature of and the sig­nif­i­cance of bat­tery life and device main­te­nance, to ensure the equip­ment is always ready for use. I think it is through these lessons, that chil­dren can not only become famil­iar with essen­tial safe­ty pro­to­cols but also devel­op a sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty and readi­ness that extends beyond play­time. Fin­gers crossed…  

The use of the Baofengs in the home, also seems to serve as an excel­lent medi­um to intro­duce chil­dren to emer­gency pro­to­cols in a non-threat­en­ing way. Through play, they can learn how to com­mu­ni­cate in var­i­ous sce­nar­ios, such as get­ting sep­a­rat­ed from the group or nav­i­gat­ing through a black­out.

Fun with Technology and Outdoor Adventures

Blend­ing tech­nol­o­gy with out­door explo­ration, walkie-talkies encour­age chil­dren to embrace both the dig­i­tal and nat­ur­al worlds. This bal­ance fos­ters a healthy rela­tion­ship with tech­nol­o­gy while pro­mot­ing phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and curios­i­ty about the envi­ron­ment.

Prac­ti­cal Pre­pared­ness: Real-Life Appli­ca­tions

Beyond the play­ground, walkie-talkies have prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions for fam­i­lies. They can be indis­pens­able tools dur­ing camp­ing trips, hikes, or any sit­u­a­tion where cell ser­vice is unre­li­able, empha­siz­ing the need for a sol­id com­mu­ni­ca­tion back­up plan.

Choosing the Right Walkie-Talkies

As men­tioned, I bought a set of walkie talkies for my daugh­ter a cou­ple years ago.  The con­cept didn’t stick then.  They were not advanced, they were cute, but the con­cept of turn­ing on the unit, nav­i­gat­ing so say, chan­nel 5, etc. was lost on her.  Today, she’s a lot more aware, can take direc­tion bet­ter, etc.  And I hap­pen to have a few Baeofeng’s float­ing around the house.  

How­ev­er, select­ing the appro­pri­ate walkie-talkies for your fam­i­ly involves con­sid­er­ing the age of your child or chil­dren, are you going to use them for play, train­ing or both, fac­tors like range, dura­bil­i­ty, and ease of use. Opt­ing for mod­els designed with kids in mind can ensure a pos­i­tive and edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence.  I just hap­pen to like the Baofengs because I have them, and feel like I can teach her to man­u­al­ly change a chan­nel with the key­pad at this junc­ture. 


Inte­grat­ing walkie-talkies into your fam­i­ly’s play­time is not just about fun; it’s a strate­gic approach to teach­ing vital life skills. From enhanc­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lead­er­ship abil­i­ties to fos­ter­ing a sense of adven­ture, these devices offer a unique blend of enter­tain­ment and edu­ca­tion. As we’ve explored, the ben­e­fits extend far beyond the play­ground, prepar­ing chil­dren for real-world chal­lenges in a fun and engag­ing way.

Your Call to Action

Start sim­ple: incor­po­rate walkie-talkie activ­i­ties into the end of your day while you are sit­ting in the home office or work­ing in the garage or shop.  Add them to your next fam­i­ly out­ing and hope­ful­ly see the imme­di­ate ben­e­fits in team­work, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and enjoy­ment.  Trust me, all she wants to do now is chat on the radio.  LOL.  

More­over, take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op a fam­i­ly emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan, ensur­ing every­one knows how to stay in touch when it mat­ters most.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email