Smartphones are everywhere now and we can’t turn back. I go to the store and see everyone from grandma to a child in a stroller on their phone. If you are considering buying your child a smartphone but aren’t sure it’s the right move you aren’t alone.
Yes, smartphones have made it easier to keep track of our kids. With a few seconds of effort we can call, text, and track our kids. The devices give us peace of mind and an endless source of entertainment for the kids.
However, if you think it’s still too early to buy your child a smartphone you have come to the right place. I’ll discuss a few options suitable for elementary age children. These devices are simple and provide an easy introduction to technology.
Dangers of Smartphones
While a smartphone is pretty much an essential device to daily life, they do come with risks. This is true for adults and especially true for children. It’s our job to keep our kids safe, but we also must let them experience the world.
The devices that I’ll present below aren’t full blown smartphones. They are a lighter, kid-friendly version. However, parents should still be aware of these risks:
- Screen addition is real in adults and in kids. Spending too much time in front of a screen can reduce cognitive abilities and lead to the development of harmful habits.
- Speaking of harmful habits, too much sedentary screen time leads to obesity in children. Be sure to put the phone down and get outdoors!
- Bullies and predators are dangerous online and offline. Be sure your children understand proper cyber security practices.
Now, let’s get into the fun part. Learning about new tech!
Alternatives to Buying Your Child a Smartphone
Coolpad Flip Phone
Honestly I might want to get one of these. They take me back to simpler times when a phone was, well, a phone and not the complex device it is today. Coolpad offers a wide selection of devices including a Kids Tech line that is COPPA compliant.
These devices are great because they provide the basic call and text functionality you would expect and not much else. Sure, this wouldn’t work for a busy dad trying to manage family, work, and weekend football bets. However, for a young child who doesn’t really need the world at his or her fingertips just yet, it’s a great device.
The Coolpad line of phones is a great introduction to technology and much cheaper then purchasing an iPhone (though certainly not as cool). I’d recommend this device for younger children who don’t need a full blown smartphone. It’s also good to teach responsibility and caring for a device.
The SNAP line comes with 4G LTE connectivity and works on either Sprint or Boost Mobile.
Gabb is the new kid on the block. They provide phones for kids that are affordable (only $99.99) and that look like a normal smartphone. However, the phones don’t come with web browsers, app stores, or social media access. For kids they get the cool look of a smartphone. As dads we get the comfort of knowing we can get in touch with our kids when needed and they won’t be viewing inappropriate content.
For parents that are worried about dangerous content or cyberbullying, Gabb is a great option. The one critique is that the phone doesn’t come with text monitoring. So issues could still arise, but it’s admittedly better than having full access to the web and social media.
The Gizmo Watch
The Gizmo Watch by Verizon is a super cool device and excellent alternative to buying your child a smartphone! We’ve covered cool gadgets for kids in prior posts, but the Gizmo deserves it’s own section here.
The Gizmo comes with many features dads will love. The watch can be programmed to only call and text a set group of contacts up to 10 people. It even only allows for a small, pre-defined list of messages to be sent via text. This is great for parents looking to ease their children into technology.
The watch also comes with GPS tracking. Now you can track the location of the watch, and hopefully your child, all from your GizmoHub app. Parents will also appreciate that the watch includes a step counter. You can set goals and send reminders that keep your kiddo moving and active.
While the watch is by Verizon, you don’t have to have all your devices on Verizon. Just the watch must be on Verizon.
The world of tech is always changing. However, it’s nice to see that not all devices are adult focused. Gadgets such as those presented here allow parents to introduce the responsibility of owning a device to young children. These devices also remove some of the risk that comes with a full smartphone. Key for me has been the restricted, or no, internet access. The internet is an entirely different lesson than device care. I like being able to teach and introduce new concepts as my kids grow and can comprehend new ideas.