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When is Your Kid Ready for Their Own Device?

There are great smartphone alternatives for younger kids, like the GizmoGadget!

Kids are getting smartphones younger and younger these days.

Some parents hand over their smartphones to entertain infants, while others avoid exposing their kids to electronics until much later. So who’s right? Turns out, the answer is: it depends on the parent, and it depends on the kid. Parents use guidelines like age and personality of their children, as well as what their kids are into—afterschool activities, playing with friends in the neighborhood, shuffling to different caretakers throughout the week—to decide whether their kids should have a personal smartphone.

So … To smartphone or not to smartphone?

Here are some key points to consider, courtesy of PBS.org:

  • How independent are your kids?
  • Do your children “need” to be in touch for safety or social reasons?
  • How responsible is your child?
  • Can they recognize/follow limits for usage and downloads?
  • Can they be trusted to learn and follow phone etiquette, like not using the phone in class, not disturbing others, and general digital courtesy?

If just reading this list makes you feel overwhelmed at all the things to consider when deciding whether to take the smartphone plunge, you’re not alone! Here are some articles from USA Today and the NY Times to help you out with your decision.

When you’re both ready:

If your kid is ready to have their own smartphone, but you still want to filter content and set text/call and data limits, you need Verizon Smart Family. You can also set kids pulling on rope togethertrackers on your kid’s phone to make sure they made it to clarinet rehearsal.

Other options for protecting your kid from R-rated online content, or from cyberbullying, include Net Nanny and PureSight.

Don’t forget data! Get out ahead of family arguments about data usage with an unlimited plan, like Verizon’s Go Unlimited Plan.

Also make sure your multi-device insurance plan is in place. Trust us, you don’t want to hear “I dropped the phone in the toilet!” without having Total Mobile Protection!

You may want to consider a smartphone behavioral contract. It’s a document that nudges both parents and children to sit down and really think about how they should conduct themselves in a digital society. It helps them to think twice about posting a snarky remark to social media, and it also helps them think about how they should behave if they find themselves on the receiving end of cyberbullying.

GizmoGadget: A Great Starter Device

If you’re not quite ready for your kid to be connected with a smartphone, try a step-up tool, like the wearable GizmoGadget. It’s a way to give your kids independence, but know where they are with GPS tracking.

The GizmoGadget is like a smart watch, but has only limited connectivity, so young kids aren’t exposed to social media sites or other platforms they just aren’t ready for. It’s great for multiple caretakers; you can program approved contacts for Mom, Dad, Grandma and babysitters.

More great GizmoGadget features:

  • Activity trackers (it even counts jump rope steps!)
  • Event notifications, giving your kid a nudge when it’s time to get going on piano practice.
  • Two-way calling from up to 10 pre-set contacts.
  • Simple messaging. Kids can receive and send texts. You can even pre-program text replies for your kid.
  • Monitor your kid’s GizmoGadget activity through the GizmoHub App. It’s compatible with both Android and iOS.

Making decisions about tech and your children is tough! Kids today have challenges we never had to face, like cyberbullying and managing screen time optimally. Allowing them to gradually step into technological responsibility helps them manage it better.