Most of us can hardly remember a time before smart phones, but in reality they’ve only been around for about 10 years. Our family is choosing to delay giving our children access to these devices, even though we might be in the minority! Here’s why we’re not buying our kids smart phones and what we’re using instead.
Oh man, parenting is full of rough, controversial decisions but the choice about when to give a child a cell phone might be the most hotly debated today!
There’s no doubt that cell phones are crazy useful; I’m sure my parents would have loved to be able to contact me and my siblings whenever they wanted to! But, now that smart phones are the norm, there are a lot of other issues at play when giving a child a cell phone, such as social media usage, cyberbullying, sexting and pornography.
If you want a (scary but) insightful look into the problems facing our kids today, listen to this interview Audrey & I did with an expert on protecting kids from porn.
The worst part about it is that today’s parents are facing decisions about technology that have never been navigated before. There’s limited amount of research showing what nonstop access to the internet does to a child’s brain and development, for example. Because of this, our family has chosen to err on the side of caution and delay allowing our children access to smartphones.
When Luke and I went shopping a couple years ago for a “dumb” phone for the kids (i.e. one without internet access) our options were severely limited. We went to 3 different stores and each store carried only 1 variety of cell phone without data options and none of them were very impressive.
Interestingly, each of the salesmen we talked to (3 separate guys!) mentioned that they regretted giving their kids smart phones when they did. I thought that was a pretty terrible indictment of smart phones, especially considering these guys were probably getting commission on their sales.
Thankfully we found Gabb Wireless and chose to buy one of their Gabb phones (use code BONNIE10 to get $10 off). They are seriously fantastic! Below are some of our favorite features and reasons why we’ll be buying these exclusively for our kids, at least for the foreseeable future (Liam turns 16 next year, and we promised him we’d revisit the issue then).
Looks like a smart phone
This is clearly a vanity issue, but no kid wants to walk around with a flip phone that looks like it came out of the ’90’s. The Gabb phone looks just like an Android or iPhone so that they don’t have to be embarrassed to use it.
The touch screen also makes it easy for kids to navigate it since it’s almost identical to mom and dad’s phones.
Contains useful apps
The Gabb phone has all sorts of good stuff! A calculator, messaging & phone apps, camera and video capability, FM radio, calendar, voice recorder and files app. The new Z2 Gabb phone also includes a music app and a find-my-phone tracking option.
Gabb even has a watch option for even the youngest elementary-aged kids so they can call, text and stay connected without any dangers (including the danger of breaking or losing an expensive phone).
Skips the dangerous stuff
While kids can take pictures and videos with the Gabb phone, they CAN’T send them to friends OR accept picture messages (unless you pay a few dollars extra for this feature). If you’re been around a high school for 5 minutes, you probably know what about the terrifying sexting trend.
Teens are taking nude pictures of themselves or others and disseminating them amongst peers. Imagine your child going about his day at school, only to have his education interrupted by an unsolicited photo of a naked schoolmate. NO THANKS.
The Gabb phone also noticeably omits an internet browser, social media apps, email and games. Which means that if your kid has this phone, he’ll use it solely to communicate – huzzah! No tempting distractions and no ability for your child to accidentally stumble upon adult content without your knowledge.
Most cell plans charge between $10-30 for an additional line of use and the Gabb phone is right on par with this at $19.99 per line. It can only be used with the Gabb Wireless network (i.e. can’t be added on to an existing AT&T or Verizon plan) in order to make it super secure.
Even better, the phone itself is just $99.99, which runs at least $500 cheaper than most smart phones. I don’t have a single kid who’s responsible enough to carry around the price equivalent of a computer in his pocket.
As of now, we only have one Gabb phone for our kids to share. It primarily stays at home so that the kids can contact me when I’m gone running errands but they also take it with them when they go out with friends or go babysitting.
Overall, we’ve been super happy with our Gabb experience and don’t see ourselves allowing a child regular use of a smart phone anytime soon. In my opinion, the potential cost of giving my child (and his undeveloped brain) unlimited access to the internet and all the scary stuff out there is just too high.
Regardless of what you choose for your children, I wish your family the best of luck! It’s not easy determining what our children are ready for and how to best protect them. You’re already doing a great job!
If you are interested in a Gabb phone for your family, don’t forget to use this link or my discount code (BONNIE10) to save yourself 10 bucks.
You might also like this article I wrote about protecting kids from the dangers of pornography. It’s not a fun topic but it’s up to us to keep our little ones safe.