With landlines mostly a thing of the past, parents are still seeking ways to get in touch with their kids, even as they choose to delay smartphone ownership. This is a very real need. And we support this need to communicate. Families also need different features on a phone. Some place a high value on texting capabilities while others just want an easy way to call their kids. Our concern with smartphones does not center around the calling and texting capabilities (although, obsessive texting can be an issue for some kids). Our concern is that smartphones are giving kids unrestricted, at-your-fingertips access to social media, gaming and the internet and are replacing face-to-face communication and other healthy activities, like traditional methods of development and physical activity.
While we do not endorse any of these products, we have done a tiny bit of research for you and listed some options here. Please know that technology is quickly changing and these products come and go. If you have found a product that has worked for your family, let us know by emailing us.
Also, don’t be afraid of free-range parenting. Many families choose to let their children go out on their own and figure it out. Of course, this is a personal decision and depends upon many variables, included where you live, age of your child and preparedness.
Believe it or not, the types of mobile phones most of us first used to communicate are still around today. They provide users with the ability to make calls and most have basic texting capabilities. Some still provide access to the internet, so make sure you thoroughly research options to find a product that works for your family. While many phones can be dumbed-down or have features removed, kids can usually figure out how to access these features.
This article highlights a range of products and discusses their best features.
Flip phones are noted for having better battery life and for being more rugged, two features that are vital for tweens and teens. This article reviews the best flip phones on the market.
Many parents tell us that it’s less expensive for them to hand down an old smartphone to their kids but at less than $14/month, these basic Verizon phones are great options.
We aren’t the only ones concerned about kids having smartphones. Republic Wireless CEO Chris Chuang also agrees. Born from this concern came years of research which ultimately gave way to the Relay. This walkie-talkie like product is great for youngsters who just need a way to call home.
We aren’t the only ones who think this device is cool.
PHONE AND “SMART” WATCHES
Watches are a great option for kids on the go and parents who want to keep track of them. Most watches have safety features, like GPS tracking, emergency calling and geofences, as well as calling and texting capabilities. Beware of watches that give kids access to games and the internet. That tiny screen spells trouble for developing eyes. And please make sure you understand all features before purchasing. This article details many available products on the market and many Promise parents are having success with the Gizmo.
The Lightphone 2, with a release date of April, may be our best option for a smartphone alternative. Based in Brooklyn, the founders of Lightphone have listened to our concerns with smartphones and are eager to develop a product that works for parents who don’t want their kids to have a smartphone and kids who want something “cool.” We are optimistic. For more info, check out the following article and their website.
DUMBING-DOWN YOUR SMARTPHONE
Not a bad idea for parents as well as kids, many people are opting to dumb-down their smartphones. Certainly, there are many ways to reduce your smartphone’s grip on your attention and your life. If you choose this route for your kids, please know that kids are smart….and very tech savvy. Most can figure out how to add apps, internet and other features back onto a smartphone quicker than you removed them. We’ve heard of kids hiding apps on smartphones, too.
Here are a few articles on how and why you should dumb-down your smartphone.