These days technology is such a part of all our lives and kids grow up using technology all the time. In our case it started with a tablet, to be used while we were in the room and with the controls at the securest setting. The big transition though is to the phone. A smartphone goes around with your child: it can be a constant companion, but it brings with it new freedom and new dangers.
To be honest if you’d have asked me a few years ago, I’d have said a phone should be for secondary school. I think that’s often the right time too, maybe a few months before is optimal so they can swap numbers with friends they are leaving behind as they change schools. I’ve talked to a number of parents about it over the last few years and sometimes there are some convincing reasons for giving a phone at an earlier age. One of H’s classmates has air stewards for parents and they are often traveling for work. With a phone their child can get in touch with them when he needs to whether it’s just for a chat or if there is something worrying them. I know H loves to use the video call option on the Whatsapp app on his phone to call me or to call friends. I know other families where the kids don’t have a phone, even after they go to secondary, and to be honest it isn’t the end of the world. Most of us parents managed without one when we were children and I can remember often ringing my mother from the school pay phone to tell her that I was going to be staying late for a rehearsal or to play tennis or whatever. There is something about being able to get in contact to see if they are stuck in traffic or have gone to a friend’s house and many parents give children their first phones when they start to go out on their own to places.
It’s not just getting a smartphone that is a key decision either, you need to be sure your child can use it responsibly. You can’t just assume that they will either as there are too many traps out there for naive or inexperienced young people. This is why I was interested to hear about Monqi Kids Smartphone which is a new children’s smartphone that’s controlled via an app (available for IOS or Android) on the parent’s phone. It’s unique in that the parental controls can’t be deleted or turned off by a tech savvy child. The app can control the phone remotely, so you don’t need your child’s handset to hand to make changes. You can control access to the phone, so it can’t be used at school times or meal times or in the run up to bedtime. The danger with safe products sometimes is that they look different to normal items, but the Monqui Kids Smartphone looks like a sleek smartphone.
The Monqi Kids Smartphone has been awarded ‘Mumsnet Rated’, which means the product has undergone testing by a panel of real parents and children who in turn have then recommended to other mums. It’s available exclusively at Carphone Warehouse, SIM-free £149.99. It’s no slouch in the tech department either and it has a good camera, plus a decent processor.
Disclosure: This post is in association with Monqui Kids Smartphone.