Want to get your child a phone, but don't want to give them a smartphone? You're not alone. More parents are finding alternatives beyond internet- connected devices filled with apps.
As young children start school, there's lots of changes. Previously they may have been in your care all the time, but now they're doing things on their own. They may be in afterschool programs, or staying overnight at a friend's house or on a school trip. Ages 5-12 are the years where children are forming their own identities and interests outside of the family, but they are still young and developing.
A smartphone is not really a phone, it's a computer. And a computer in the hand of a child that is naïve, forming their interests, curious and lacking in judgment is not a wise decision. Consider a device that works like a phone, not a computer. There are products that can be stepping stones from phone to smartphone and childhood to adolescence.
You may know about Smartwatches for adults. They are wearable computers. Smartwatches for kids however are different. They usually have GPS tracking, but not necessarily Internet. They are colorful, sturdier and have a long battery life. In the last several years a bumper crop of children's smartwatches has grown.
Here are some suggestions of Smartwatches for kids:
Tick Talk There are three versions of this watch which offer text and voice message as well as GPS tracking.
VTech Kidizoom This is the cheapest option on the list with fitness challenges and a built-in camera.
Gizmo Pal 2 Offered through Verizon, this phone offers GPS, geo-fencing and dials up to 4 numbers.
DokiWatch This watch is the priciest on the list, but also has more capabilities. It can connect to Wi-Fi and has a feature called DokiPet, a virtual pet children can take care of.
For more information about smart phone alternatives check out the author's article on KSL: Rise of the dumb phone: 5 alternatives to smart phones
Carrie Rogers-Whitehead is the founder of Digital Respons-Ability. She writes a column on digital parenting for KSL and regularly trains parents on technology. Contact her to learn more about her digital parenting workshops at email@example.com