Mobile phones for kids? Keep it simple.
Delay kids' smartphone access as long as possible.
There is no doubt that we are living in a different world to fifteen or even 10 years ago. Kids today are increasingly tech savvy at younger ages, enabling them to participate at school, and readying them for higher learning and, eventually, the work place.
But how much tech do they really need access to, and from what age? And in considering mobile phones for kids, is a smart phone actually the best choice?
Does your child really need a smart phone?
The short answer is ‘no’. Rewind 15 years; kids got by fine with Mum or Dad organising playdates or contacting each other over a landline. For generations they have managed without a personal device in their pocket.
When the time comes, does your child really need a smart phone? Instead, could we satisfy their need for connection with a simple ‘dumb’ mobile phone, rather than a smart phone?
Nothing dumb about a dumb mobile phone
It’s true, kids do get to an age at which self-management is important to their social connections. So it is fair to assume they will eventually need a phone to contact friends and family.
But most parents ignore the vital distinction between smart phones and dumb phones: on a dumb phone, you can still make and receive calls and text messages, but you do not have access to WIFI, social media, apps, games etc., that you do on a smart phone.
Unfortunately though, the mobile phone market is so flooded with smart phones that you can be mistaken for feeling as though you have very few viable options when considering alternatives to traditional landlines or smart phone technology for your child.
For kids, the dumb phone is the smart decision!
What age is right for a child’s first phone?
The age bracket of 7–13-year-olds seems to be where kids start acquiring phones for personal use.
I’m the father of two boys, 12 and 9-years-old respectively. My kids have an Xbox and iPads at home. Both kids have a Chromebook for school, and intermittent access to Mum and Dad’s smart phones.
In addition to this, do they really need the internet in their pocket, with them wherever they go?
Even with restrictions to particular apps or pages in place, do they need access to the 24/7 digital party that our smart phones promise us? Is smart phone ‘fun’ actually impeding their ability to just sit still, and rest their minds?
Impacts of digital technology on children's health and wellbeing
As parents, we should be aware of the implications and repercussions of early-age smartphone usage.
In a matter of a few years, we’ve adopted this amazing new pocket tool that completely changes how we live, how we access information, and how we socialise and communicate. But we haven’t stopped to look at the impact it might be having on our kids; how it might affect the building blocks of what it means to be a human from early age, like:
- being patient
- sitting still for over 5 minutes with nothing but your thoughts
- conversing face to face and building dialogue, owning your words
- having an attention span of longer than 30 seconds
- staying present and engaged in the moment
Mobile phone addiction starts young
Tristan Harris, a former Google product development manager and now technology ethicist, talks about how the companies responsible for programming your phones are working hard to get you and your family to feel the need to check in constantly.
He refers to the smart phone as a “slot machine”. Every time you check your phone, consciously or not, you’re playing the game, getting the same dopamine ‘hit’ of a slot machine except via Facebook and Instagram ‘Likes’, Twitter and Tiktok ‘Followers’, emojis, notifications, and so on. The problem for children in particular, is that these hits are habit-forming thanks to clever design techniques embedded inside smart products.
Delaying smart phone access makes good sense
So at Tone Down Tech, we believe that it’s important to delay kids’ smart phone access as long as possible.
In this 2020 article Mobile phones: The effect of its presence on learning and memory, the authors concede that “smartphones are a popular communication form worldwide in this century and likely to remain as such, especially among adolescents.
“Smartphones undoubtedly keep us connected; however, many individuals are now obsessed with them. This obsession can lead to detrimental cognitive functions and mood/affective states…”
There is no doubt smart phones are having a huge impact on us all, some positive, others not so much. Delaying the use of smart phones for our kids while they are in an important development stage of their life seems prudent.
So what’s the solution?
Introducing the AGM M6 ‘dumb’ mobile phone
Tone Down Tech is proud to be the exclusive seller of the AGM M6 mobile phone in New Zealand and Australia.
This phone fits the bill perfectly if you want your child to have a simple phone for texting and calling only.
- It’s waterproof, dust proof, and smash proof, making it the ideal phone for kids who are often dropping things or leaving things outside.
- It’s 4G, so will work on existing networks for the foreseeable future.
- It has an extra-long battery life (in most cases charging once a week is sufficient)
Better still, the AGM M6 mobile phone isn’t only suitable as a kids’ phone.
It’s also perfect:
- as a family/house phone - replacement for landline.
- as a reserve phone for someone who occasionally wants to switch off tech for a weekend but still be in contact for calls and text.
- for campers or hikers who only need a phone for contact but need the reassurance of a long battery life.
- as a work or outdoor phone for tradies.
- for the elderly, who often prefer a simpler phone.
Questions around mobile phones for kids – what’s safe, what’s not, what type of phone to buy, when to introduce it – are ones that every parent should be asking. There is lots to consider and in the end it comes down to personal preference. But in the meantime, the AGM M6 is the perfect stop gap, guaranteed to satisfy even the youngest, most demanding customers!