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Dumbphones Give Parents Control of Kid’s Smartphones

Posted on September 22, 2017

Driving a car generally requires a person be as mature as a 16-year-old. But there are no age requirements with a smartphone.

Ten is the average age a child receives a smartphone now, down from 12 a few years ago. For some it is even earlier.

Kids have a lot of power with a smartphone, from buying goods on a credit card, to sexting. And if you think your kid doesn’t sext — that is send sexually explicit pictures on a cell phone — think again.

A survey in 2014 of seventh graders found 22 percent admitted to sexting. That is 12 and 13 year olds!

Psychologists find a lot more anxiety, obsessive/compulsive behavior and depression among early smartphone users.

So there are a lot of reasons to control what for some, is an addiction and some emerging technologies will allow parents to do just that.

Redgreentree is the name of one technology. The app was created by parents to address smartphone mishandling.

It allows parents to block use of the smartphones within certain time periods or block entire categories on the internet.

Schedules can be imposed to allow time management skills, i.e. time for homework, dinner, bedtime, extracurricular activities. There is a monthly charge and Google Play handles the app.

An alternative to a smartphone is a dumbed-down mobile phone. It only allows text or phone messages and no internet access. T-Mobile does not sell dumbphones, reports the New York Times, but other providers do, such as Sprint and Virgin. Their device is the Retro. Boost’s is the Fling.

The app, Qustodio, lets parents monitor their children’s text messages and even shut off the phone remotely.

Parental controls are better on iPhones than androids.

Want to stop online purchases? A feature on the iPhone is called Family Sharing and it includes Ask to Buy.

When the child tries to make a purchase using an app, the parent will be notified via their iPhone, which describes the purchase. The parent then has the option to allow or deny the purchase.

Parental rules may include a contract specifying no phone use at the dinner table and in the classroom and no nude selfies or meeting strangers on the internet.

Common Sense Media founder, James Steyer, suggests kids get a smart phone only after they start high school when they have learned the value of
face-to-face communication and on delegating their time wisely, since smartphone use can be addictive and young children lack impulse control.

At that age, children may also avoid online bullies, predators and sexting.

Using any device should be seen as a privilege rather than a right.