My wife and I have tried to keep cell phones out of our children’s hands. We realize that the trend is to give children phones at an earlier and earlier age – parents and kids linked together through technology at all times. My wife and I believe that our children should experience the world independently, without the umbilical cord of a cell phone tying them to us.
Having said all of that, there are times when a cell phone would come in handy. For instance, my son and daughter recently attended the local Boys and Girls club holiday party. Pick-up time was uncertain, since the party involved going to the movie theater for a screening of Penguins of Madagascar, and it would have been nice if they had been able to call or text to let us know they were ready to be picked-up. My ten year old often walks to the grocery store for us and it would be nice to send him with a phone in case we need to ask him to pick up an additional item.
There are other ways we use smart phones in our daily lives that have benefits to the kids and us. We homeschool and often learn while on the road or out and about in our city. The smart phone becomes a way to extend learning; we look up the history of places we are visiting, check science facts, and use the map to navigate. Recently I took my kids on a trip to Philadelphia where we learned about the early years of the United States. We downloaded the National Parks app and the kids looked up facts, maps, and information about the sites we visited.
Considering our warring ideals (less technology and more independence versus access to communication and information), we finally found a solution for our family – the TracFone LG Optimus Fuel™ Android™ smartphone. It is a prepaid smart phone designed for kids. Parents purchase the phone (which currently runs at $29.99 for a limited time at Walmart, Target and Kroger) and then purchase minutes and data in 30, 60, or 90 day increments. . Because the phone is Wi-Fi enabled, you don’t have to use the minutes when Wi-Fi is available. And with the one-year free access to the NQ Family Guardian™ app that is part of the bundle, I can rest knowing where he is at any time and I can make sure that the content on the phone is safe.
We set the ground rules about when they use the phone and when it stays high on the shelf at home. TracFone would be a great gift for those kids that are begging for cell phones for Christmas, without the commitment and expense of adding another phone to the family plan.
We can find more information on the TracFone Parents website.
Another version of this post can be found at www.NYCDadsgroup.com