Parents: How do you feel about your children being beaten up?
Some would say that it builds character. Others would suggest that it instead builds lifelong psychological scarring and the odd broken bone. Depending on your viewpoint, Telstra's TicTalk -- essentially a mobile phone for the very junior crowd -- is either a tool to help prevent bullying, or in fact ensure that it will happen to your child.
That might seem like a big swathe for one product to encompass, so we'll explain ourselves. The TicTalk is a limited use -- based on calling profiles and numbers that you, as a parent, approve -- mobile phone in an unusual form factor that most closely resembles the love child of a stopwatch and an overly amourous Tamagotchi. On the not being bullied side, having an easy way to contact you may be a good safety measure for your child. On the being bullied side, the rather ugly physical nature of the TicTalk, combined with the fact that media-savvy kids will cotton on that it's not a "real" mobile phone, could lead to your offspring being on the receiving end of more than a little taunting. That's a social issue that the TicTalk itself probably can't address, but if Telstra's going to pitch to this market, then it's something that they're somewhat inviting by virtue of simply being in the market.
The TicTalk itself is a chunky (53 x 23 x 84mm) silver ovoid shaped phone with a relatively small greyscale LCD in the middle. We're still not sure if it resembles a Tamagotchi, a stopwatch or something out of HR Giger's worst nightmares. It sports the simplest interface layout possible, with two selection buttons on the left hand side and a clickable rocker on the right hand side. There's no dialling pad, or even virtual dialling pad, but that's to do with the rather interesting way that the TicTalk manages its calling functionality. It's arguably a bit large for the pockets of most of the target audience, although it'd fit fairly well into the average schoolbag.