“Where are you, Honey?”
Having the best phone for kids is almost a necessity in today’s fast-paced, busy, run-around lifestyle. Knowing almost immediately where your child is, who they are with, and what activities they are participating is certainly a privilege. But, does it really have to go further than that? Is social media, countless more social interacting apps, and access to an unregulated internet all that necessary for young children? It’s important to consider, as parents, the potential negative effects smartphones have on your child’s psychology and development. The best phone for kids may not necessarily be the best option.
Phones are convenient! No if's, and’s, or but’s about it. They are a major convenience to the busy mom who needs a moment to think while the little one is preoccupied. They are convenient as a mini computer to respond to emails, business, personal affairs, and the like. They are convenient to almost always be in touch with your child(ren) while they are away from home. They are certainly the normal part of everyday American life. However, could there be a safer and still convenient alternative to having a smartphone in the hands of a 12-year old?
The ‘let’s not talk about it’ dangers of having a smartphone has come full circle. In a recent publication, it was shown that 56 percent of children between the ages of 10 to 13 own or have access to a smartphone. However, that’s not really the “oh my!” shocker. It’s estimated that 25 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 have a smartphone. Is that necessary? Perhaps. We don’t blame those moms who use smart devices for entertainment and educational purposes. But, what about your tween and young adults?
Children learn and thrive by face to face interaction. Dr. Jenny Radesky of Boston Medical Center noticed the lack of interaction between children and their parents.
“They (children) learn language, they learn about their own emotions, they learn how to regulate them. They learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people’s facial expressions. And if that’s not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones.”
You can’t get that level of intimacy and connectedness through a smart screen. Not only is there a disconnection between human interactions, but you also face a whole new world in your children’s lives. Cyberspace, the invasion of the world both positive and negative right in front of your children’s eyes.
They are exposed to potentially inappropriate images, bullying, peer pressure to engage in inappropriate activities, and even meeting “friends” in person. With the lack of human connection at home (because we are all preoccupied with our phones), finding, seeking, and desiring that human connection can lead young, unsuspecting children into a dangerous situation.
Yes, it’s great to have the option of immediate communication with your children, but the best phone for kids does not have to be a smartphone. Here are some alternatives to consider:
Be In Your Teen’s Phone
Have the option to invade your child’s world. It’s not intrusive, it’s preventative. Know what apps, sites, friends, and locations they are visiting. Be on the preventative side of dispelling any potential inappropriate actions taken by others.
Take advantage of a service like this for your young adults that already have a smartphone attached to their hip.
Best Phone For Kids: Get a Flip or Look-alike SmartPhone
Optics, appearances, and fitting in with their peers is important. So instead of going full out “old-school” on the phone options, consider a “flip phone” capability in a smartphone’s body for your tween. They’ll be able to communicate with you as necessary but won’t have the disadvantage of being exposed to unnecessary content that doesn’t nurture their growth. Plus… less screen time was never really a bad idea.
Young kids: Research phones with very simple controls, big buttons, and extremely limited features. These phones make calls only to a short list of approved contacts. They also have no games, no Web access, and no camera capabilities. Options to consider are the Sprint WeGo, the Firefly, or the TickTalk Smart Watch, a watch option that makes calls to a limited contact list and receives but can't send texts.
Tweens: These phones that look grown-up and like their friend’s but offer limited features or they come with a service that allows you to customize options. Your options here are the Kurio phone, the Kajeet service, the Just5, or the TracFone, which can't download apps.
Protecting and invading your child’s “space” is never a bad idea. Especially when you love them enough to prevent any cyberbullying, inappropriate exposure to adult content, and overall, their physiological development. They need you to be the very seen hero to protect them until the day they become mature enough to guard themselves just like you taught them.