Phone Alternatives for a Child: Give the Smartphone a Break
The rise in gadget addiction is astonishing. Over the last ten years, we’ve witnessed a surge in the use of digital devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Unfortunately, gadget addiction isn’t just reported in adults. The number of kids and teens addicted to some form of digital device is also rising.
The good news is there are many smartphone alternatives available. It’ll ensure your child slowly starts getting used to tech gadgets, but also minimize the risk of addiction and potential internet threats lurking on social media and other websites.
In this article, we will look at why your child does not need a smartphone until a certain age and offer several alternatives for you to choose how to replace a smartphone in order to minimize harm from it, but retain important functions for parents (as well as children).
- Why Your Child Doesn’t Need A Smartphone
- Explaining to Your Child That They Don’t Need A Smartphone
- How To Prevent Gadget Addiction
- 10 Alternatives To Smartphones
- When Is Your Child Old Enough To Have A Smartphone?
- Keep Your Kids Entertained
Why Your Child Doesn’t Need A Smartphone
There are many major benefits to allowing your kids to use technological devices such as cellphones, computers, and tablets.
Using these devices for educational purposes can be extremely beneficial, as your child will have instant access to all the educational material and tools they’ll need to succeed in education.
But here are a few reasons why your child doesn’t need a smartphone:
- Poor Sleep. Constant use of a smartphone or other digital device can lead to a significant reduction in the amount—and quality—of sleep. The screens on digital devices such as smartphones emit a specific frequency of light—also known and “blue light”. Blue light is known to have a considerable impact on your body’s ability to produce melatonin—the sleep hormone.
- Malicious Content. With a cellular or digital device, your kids will have instant access to any information and content they choose. This ability to access almost anything can come with severe consequences. If you’re not using proper parental controls, your kids will be able to gain access to malicious content, such as pornography and violent videos.
- Affects Social Skills. Although mobile phones are primarily used for social networking, there’s no doubt that these devices can have consequences when it comes to the development of social skills. Smartphones could lead to your child becoming distracted from their surroundings. This could lead them to become less conversational, and thus affecting how they develop the essential social skills for life.
Explaining to Your Child That They Don’t Need A Smartphone
Smartphones have almost become essential for modern-day living. With this in mind, we understand how difficult it could be to explain to your child that they do not need a telephone.
The best way to explain to your child that they don’t need to use a smartphone is to provide them with all of the facts (some of which we’ve previously mentioned).
By showing your child how smartphone and constant digital device usage can impede their ability to sleep, socialise, and how they grow and develop, they will fully understand the consequences of cellphones.
It can be unproductive just to tell your kids “no”. Explaining the facts will help them accept your decision to limit their use of smartphones—until they’re old enough.
How To Prevent Gadget Addiction
There are several steps you can take to prevent gadget addiction. Here are some of the main things you can do.
Parental Controls: Set Time Limits
Regardless of the child’s age, they’ll see the phone as a fun toy that allows playing games and other entertaining activities. If you want to avoid addiction, it’s imperative to use parental controls and set how much time your child can spend using their cell phone. You’ll find it simple to limit their screen time and access to social media and other apps with the Kids360 app.
The app is available for both Android and iOS devices and offers many convenient screen time management features. You can use parental controls to set daily restrictions for social media, games or any other apps and create timetables to prevent your kid from using certain apps on their cell phone at specific times.
You can set tasks that your kid can complete, such as cleaning the room or writing their homework. Once they finish, you can give your child additional screen time as a reward. It’s possible to connect the entire family, which is a feature similar to the one offered by Google’s Family Link.
Clubs & Extracurricular Activities
Another great way to prevent your child from becoming addicted to gadgets is to encourage them to take up other activities. This could be as simple as getting them to play outside with their friends or organising trips out—going swimming or taking them to the park.
You could also get them to join a club, such as a sports team, a dance school, or even the Guides or Scouts. Extracurricular activities may also be beneficial and provide a place for your child to socialise with their classmates.
Kids most often use smartphones and digital devices for entertainment purposes. Gaming is a vast industry, with popular games and apps now readily available at little to no cost.
Instead of allowing your child to spend hours playing games on their phone, provide them with alternatives. Board games are an ideal way to keep your kids entertained while interacting with them.
Monopoly, Scrabble, and Pictionary are all brilliant ways to keep your kids occupied without having to give them a smartphone or digital device. These games also help your kids develop math and language skills, while also improve their social skills.
10 Alternatives To Smartphones
Here are some more alternatives you can give you child instead of a cell.
Young kids might not still be ready to carry a cell phone, but a GPS smartwatch could be a great alternative. Your child will love it as a device that’s much cooler than a flip phone, and you’ll appreciate the integrated parental controls capabilities like GPS tracking.
Findmykids designed an entirely new Pingo Track smartwatch, which is an excellent phone alternative for children from five to 12 years. The watch has an adjustable strap and as it will be on the kid’s hand all the time, there’s no risk they’ll forget it anywhere, which could be a problem with a flip phone.
Pingo Track has Bluetooth capabilities and offers convenient GPS tracking features. You can set geo-tracking zones and get alerts if your child leaves them. Activating location audio can assist if they get lost, and there are convenient additions like an alarm clock or pedometer. As for app, there’s no worry about using internet access to get to social media or games since you won’t find those apps on this product.
Although it belongs to a phone alternatives for children, you’ll find many features similar to those devices. The phone has two HD cameras that kids can use for video calls. Thanks to parental controls, you can whitelist the numbers your child can talk to, which ensures they’ll only be able to communicate with you or other family members. Ultimately, Pingo Track is an excellent choice until you know your child is ready for smartphone ownership.
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You can use the location features via the Findmykids app, which tracks their movement history and sends notifications when your child visits any pre-set location. At any moment, you can trigger audio to listen to your kid’s surroundings, especially when they aren’t answering your phone calls. Kids can use the SOS signal button to contact you instantly if they believe they are in danger.
#2 Screenless and Flip Cell Phones
Screenless cell phones for kids are growing in popularity—especially as they don’t offer distracting displays. These gadgets are an excellent way for you to keep in touch with your child without them having to look at a screen.
From the kids’ perspective, it’s easy to use. The device is nothing else than a push-to-talk phone. For you, it’s important you won’t need parental controls since there’s no access to social media or other apps, meaning this is primarily a way to maintain communication with your child. Other smartphone alternatives could include old-fashioned flip phones with limited internet access.
We are staying in the area of technology since you don’t want your child not to be tech-ready in this digital era. If you don’t want them to have mobile phones, consider a tablet they could use at home.
You can pick from many tablets that are great smartphone alternatives, but make sure to take control of the device’s content. Parental controls like those from the Findmykids app can ensure you track the child’s location via the tablet. We still recommend not allowing new app installations or social media access, especially for young kids. Consider installing only a few games suitable to their age – that should be enough to keep them amused.
#4 Digital Audio Players
These are some other great phone alternatives for children, at least until you are sure that your kid can use a mobile phone appropriately.
Although the iPod shuffle is a discontinued product, you can still find this digital audio player online. Any MP3 player would do since it’ll enable your kid to listen to curated music installed on the device. You can load your child’s favorite songs onto their device and allow them to listen to music for hours on end — keeping them entertained.
#5 Internet Free Phones
For older kids, you can consider a Gabb Phone or another device with limited functionalities. These don’t have access to social media and come with advanced parental controls, but they also come with music features to allow children to listen to their favorite songs.
This simple device has one button. It does not have a screen, which means that the child will not be able to access applications and any dangerous content on the Internet. The device also solves the problem of complex or inconvenient control—the smallest child will figure it out with one button.
Pressing will connect your child to the app on your phone. The application can be configured to allow communication with any contacts you specify. Basically, it’s a small walkie-talkie where you can control the switchboard.
Although eBook still has a screen, it’s entirely different from the displays on smartphones. eBooks are an easy way to keep your kids entertained with books — they can be downloaded directly onto the device.
Like printed books, e-books help children develop language, social, listening and thinking skills. E-books are also a fun way for kids to enjoy reading, learning stories, and searching for information.
To distract the child from digital gadgets, and at the same time instill a love of manual labor, increase self-discipline, expand vocabulary and strengthen family ties will help:
- Craft Sets—for engraving, modeling, soap making and others. The main idea is to keep your child occupied using different arts and crafts. This will help them to develop and explore their imagination and creative side.
- Musical Instruments—can prove to be a brilliant hobby for kids to master, which could keep them entertained for hours. Gifting your child an instrument such as a guitar or keyboard can be a brilliant way for your child to learn a new skill. It will help to reinforce the discipline associated with mastering an art form.
- Paper Books—this one may seem old-fashioned (especially to your kids). However, getting your children to read books will work wonders—helping them to develop their vocabulary and knowledge while encouraging them to use their imagination.
- Board Games—can be a great alternative to keeping your kids entertained without having to use digital devices. Board games can be both fun and educational while encouraging your child to interact with others, which will ultimately improve their social skills.
When Is Your Child Old Enough To Have A Smartphone?
If you considered giving your child a smartphone, it can be quite challenging to know what age you should be allowing them to use one.
It is a grey-area. However, if you’re thinking of giving your child a mobile phone, there are some simple things you should keep in mind.
Research has found that 40% of people think that children shouldn’t be allowed access to a smartphone until they’re in middle school (between the ages 12–14). Too much screen time is the biggest concern among participants.
In this day and age, your child will inevitably need to use a smartphone at some point. Instead, the question should be “What age should I allow them certain permissions?”.
For example, if your child is between 8-10, you may want to give them a smartphone so they can contact you on their way home from school. If you don’t want them using the device for any other purpose other than contacting you, then you can set parental limitations on how the device is used.
If your child is in their teens, you may want to be less restrictive with your limitations; enabling them to use apps and websites for games and other entertainment.
We recommend not giving your child a phone until it’s essential—not before the age of 5, as this could have a significant impact on their brain development.
As we live in a technological world, you don’t want to deprive your child of access to technology completely. However, when permitting them to do so, you can use parental monitoring apps, such as the Findmykids app, to monitor how your child is using their device.
Keep Your Kids Entertained
We live in a world where everything is instant—we can get access to nearly everything we want in the click of a button. Although this can be extremely convenient and can help your child have access to an infinite array of learning resources, using digital devices can have some major drawdowns—especially when they’re overused.
Smartphones can have a massive impact on how our children develop. They can also affect sleeping patterns and concentration.
There are many alternatives to smartphones and other digital devices that will help keep your kids entertained—especially if you’re concerned about them spending too much time looking at screens.
Try some of the suggestions above, including alternative forms of entertainment and parental control apps, to help ensure your children grow and develop with technology sensibly!
What is the appropriate age for a child to get a phone?
Experts recommend that you shouldn’t even consider giving your kids mobile phones before they turn five. Once they reach that age, the decision is up to the parents. The general rule is that you shouldn’t rush with getting them a cell phone, so consider the available smartphone alternatives first. A fully-functional iOS or Android phone should be given to children only after they turn 12.
Should a 7-year-old have a cell phone?
Parents have the right to decide, but it’s better to consider a phone alternative for child at that age. If you want to get them a cell phone, pick one with no internet and limited functions. You don’t want your kid addicted to games or using social media apps because many internet threats lurk on those platforms.
Is there a flip phone for kids that has no internet?
Yes, you can find flip phones with limited or no internet access. Many come with a child-friendly design, such as a pink color for girls, while parents will appreciate that these specialized phones often come with parental controls.
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