1st phone aimed at 4-9 year olds - good or bad?

(57 Posts)
Itsnotahoover Fri 10-May-13 23:28:38

Link here

Noticed a heated discussion on fb earlier about these. They are a very simple phone, pre-programmed with up to 12 numbers that can make and receive calls only; no texts, Internet etc.

My initial thought was what the hell does a child as young as 4 need with a phone? But thinking logically, it would be handy if ever you get separated from your dc in a busy place, if they're on a sleepover at a friends and just want to speak to a parent, or for the slightly older child who ay be playing out/walking to school on their own.

Now I know that back in the day, we had nothing of the sort, but nowadays there are very few phone boxes around should a child ever find themselves alone or lost (I know there isn't one in our village) and the fact you can pre-programme it with 999 could be useful for people such as me that are single parents with no regular visitors, just in I ever fall downstairs or have some other accident whilst alone in the house with ds (we have a very stiff key lock on an old door which ds simply can't manage, and I'm not sure in a panic that he would be able to operate either the home phone or my mobile well enough to make a call).

However, my gut instinct is still that it's unnecessary for a small child to have a mobile so I'm very much on the fence with this! What does everyone else think?

ouryve Fri 10-May-13 23:32:31

MN have just had a call out for a product test for this.

I have a 9 year old who could use it, but I wouldn't need him to, so didn't apply. However, I can see a use for it for parents of kids who spend regular time with relatives or with parents who have separated, or even, who go on sleepovers but get cold feet for any reason.

deleted203 Fri 10-May-13 23:36:22

I think pure evil! (But then, I am the only person in Britain who doesn't own a mobile phone, so I may be biased). I loathe them with a deadly loathing, personally, and can't see the need.

manicinsomniac Fri 10-May-13 23:38:16

Instinctively I'm very against this but I can see your point about phone boxes etc.

In a way I think it almost makes our already hysterical culture even worse if we get used to the idea that our children need a mobile with them to play out etc.

But I can kind of see the temptation

DeafLeopard Fri 10-May-13 23:38:37

I think it is a good idea. DD is on the cusp of being allowed to call for her friend in the next street. I'd like her to be able to call me if there is a problem/ wants to ask if they can go to another friends etc

Nombrechanger Fri 10-May-13 23:39:27

I like it but don't know when my child would use it.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Fri 10-May-13 23:46:08

I wouldn't allow children more freedom on the basis that they've got mobile phones, I think it could be too lenient, iyswim.

However, I don't see why children need a specific phone. It's just a basic phone, you can get those easily enough and kids work their way around them, and get used to them, far quicker than adults do.

The payment plans seem expensive too. Yes, get your kid a basic phone but this one seems a lot. And this suggests that on PAYG the top ups expire, so you could end up losing more money.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Fri 10-May-13 23:47:46

Sowornout, I'm intrigued, how can you summon enough passion to have a "deadly loathing" for a mobile phone?

tethersend Fri 10-May-13 23:52:13

I think it's a good idea, although I would want to ensure that the numbers were unobtainable- 4-9 yos are obviously extremely vulnerable.

Itsnotahoover Fri 10-May-13 23:54:30

MaryMotherOfCheeses the problem with a normal phone though is they can text and call whatever numbers they like. These are just like a kind of panic button with only a few select numbers which appeals to me more.

CointreauVersial Sat 11-May-13 00:01:31

I can't quite see the point of it.

Children of 4, 5, 6....surely are never alone sufficiently to need a mobile phone.

Children of 9 (thinking of DD2 here) are nowadays too tech-savvy to be happy with such a simple thing. I contemplated signing up for the MN test recently, but I could just picture DD2's scornful face when I explain what the phone can/can't do. She's used to her iPod touch, her sister's smartphone.......

But I can see the appeal for older people who've missed the tech explosion and just want something simple, just not for kids.

CloudsAndTrees Sat 11-May-13 00:08:09

A child as young as the child that phone is designed for would not have need for a phone if they were bing taken care of properly.

No self respecting 9yo would want a phone like that, and if your 9yo needs a phone for some reason, then just buy them a cheap Nokia brick. My 10yo has one that cost me £15 including credit, it only ever gets used when he's out at the park and I want him to come home for dinner. If they are not responsible enough to use the phone as they have been told to, then they are not responsible enough to be out without an adult in the first place IMO.

Younger children simply shouldn't need a phone. If they are with one parent and want to call the other, then why wouldn't they be allowed to?Same with having a sleepover with friends.

MrsLouisTheroux Sat 11-May-13 08:21:24

Wow, Handset is £50 on contract or £70 PAYG with expensive call charges on top.

TentativeWhistleBlower Sat 11-May-13 09:13:28

Something like this would allow my oh to have more contact with his dd without having to go through her argumentative mother. So when dsd4 is missing him while at her mums, and vice versa, she can phone them.

megandraper Sat 11-May-13 09:16:03

I might get one for my DH. He finds mobiles too confusing, this might be just the thing...

orangepudding Sat 11-May-13 09:19:45

Would be perfect for my mum!

littleducks Sat 11-May-13 09:44:03

I have a 7 and 5 year old. I don't understand when they would use it. They still spend their lives with an adult present somewhere so if something happened the school/friends mum/brown owl/relative would call me on their behalf. They both know about 999 and could ring from a house phone or my mobile if required.

hiddenhome Sat 11-May-13 10:06:41

I've just bought a mobile phone for ds2 who is 8 because he's starting to play at the neighbours houses with his friends and I need to know where he is.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 11-May-13 10:12:01

Tentative - if the mother is really the problem, she will simply monitor/turn off/lose the phone if she wants, it wouldn't make any difference.

Celticlassie Sat 11-May-13 11:35:21

£55! You can get a cheap £9.99 handset in Phones 4 U with no internet or anything and just show them how to use speed dial. A lot of 4 year olds are just as good with smartphones, etc, as I am.

cupofteaandasliceofcake Sat 11-May-13 11:40:42

I think it's ridiculous. What on earth does a 4 year old need a mobile phone for anyway?!
As it's relevant to the post and I'm a name changing regular, I actually blogged my thoughts on this very topic yesterday. castawaywithdreams.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/mobile-phones-for-four-year-olds-just-why/

Brilliant idea. Can only contact people I deem necessary and no way to text or access Internet.

We are testing one and my cool long haired skater dude boy can't wait to receive his. He takes dh's phone normally when going to call for one of his friends and would be much easier for him to have his own. We do live in a small village though do he probably has a lot more freedom than other children of his age.

Primrose123 Sat 11-May-13 11:55:56

I don't like it for a child, but it would be perfect for my mum! She is in her early 70s, and is very 'young' in most respects, but is hopeless with all forms of technology. She has a very simple phone but struggles if she gets onto the wrong screen. She only phones, can't text or use saved numbers, or check missed calls or anything. I might get one for her!

munchkinmaster Sat 11-May-13 12:04:03

I think it's a fine idea but not for 4-9 year olds. A net free phone is a good idea for 9-14 year olds. So a cheap brick is better.

It's just brightly packaged crap to make parents think phones are okay for younger kids and for kids to whine and complain for.

I know you'll say no one would buy a four year old a phone but as soon as a 'special' phone is made for 4 year olds some people will think they should. And plenty of 7 year olds will say ' but even babies get phones these days.....'

gordyslovesheep Sat 11-May-13 12:04:28

I like the idea for older kids - DD1 is 10 and desperate for a phone - she walks to school alone sometimes (her idea of a treat!) and plays out a lot locally with mates so I am considering a cheap one for her birthday - PAYG basic phone no widgets

No idea what a 4 year old needs a phone for though!

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 12:08:27

Most kids I know are given a mobile phone as soon as they're old enough to play outside in the street/park, so I don't see why this is different.

I'm not sure why they need them marketed specifically for them though...I just bought mine a £9.99 PAYG from Tesco.

gordyslovesheep Sat 11-May-13 12:10:30

exactly Worra - these 'special' phones are £55 !!!

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 12:14:47

£55 fucking pound?? shock

One born every minute...

LadyStark Sat 11-May-13 12:15:02

I think the whole point is that a 9.99 phone would have the ability to text and possibly use the internet and could be used to call any number. These phones offer you a greater deal of control which is the appeal.

We are trialling one - have a 5yo DD and genuinely not sure how she could/would use it but think it's an interesting tech product so wanted to see how it works. Agree that the older audience is a good one, my grandmother could do with one!

gordyslovesheep Sat 11-May-13 12:16:52

but by the time my child would need one she would understand she had limited text and talk time - so no worries and you can buy phones that don't have wifi etc

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 12:18:57

It's unnecessary though Lady

All you have to do is make sure the phone can't access the internet (and most of the real cheapos can't) and stick a fiver's credit on there.

The only numbers in the phone are family...for emergency.

mrsjay Sat 11-May-13 12:20:42

I think it it a silly idea rather than bad , what would a 4 yr old want with a mobile it is just a faddy thing imo. on the other hand a 9 year old could use it but it is probably a bit babyish for them it is all marketing isn't it

mrsjay Sat 11-May-13 12:22:43

* my grandmother could do with one!*

there is an old dearie phone I saw some old ladies use theirs to find their friend the other week in town it has big buttons and huge font -- i may need it soon--

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 12:24:40

My 81 year old Dad's got a phone with big buttons. I can't remember the make though.

<< Unhelpful >>

mrsjay Sat 11-May-13 12:26:08

is it actel ? i think it is

Itsnotahoover Sat 11-May-13 19:50:36

Doro do a simple big button mobile aimed at the elderly smile

Royalmailer Sat 11-May-13 19:57:35

I think the price is outrageous- it should cost around the same as a cheap brick, IMO. Like the idea though.

Maggie111 Sat 11-May-13 20:09:53

I think they're a good idea. There was a MN thread recently about someone at a sleepover who had an issue and couldn't call their Mum. It's not a something they should always have on, but I can see the occasions it would be useful and I would consider one for my child.

BoysWillGrow Sat 11-May-13 20:25:37

oooh the link you put up was for the testers. You can go through the options to make one and at the end choose the "free trial option" so i guess with the link everyone here could get one free?

Twattybollocks Sat 11-May-13 22:32:16

I actually can see the point of it, for my kids at least. We live on an estate of about 40 houses Most with kids who play out on the playing field next to the estate or are in and out of each others houses constantly. It would save me a huge amount of time and money to be able to just ring ds or dd and tell them to come home for lunch/tea/bed instead of sending a group txt round to say "whoever has my children please send them home thanks Twatty"
I do appreciate that mine is a fairly unusual neighbourhood that allows kids a lot more freedom than would generally be considered safe by most on mn, so for most kids it would be unecessary

noblegiraffe Sat 11-May-13 22:36:22

I thought the general advice was the mobile phones aren't advised for children because although the evidence is that they don't cause brain tumours in adults, the effect on the growing child's brain is unknown?

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Sat 11-May-13 22:43:32

interesting... we have just started allowing our 9 year old to cycle to the park to meet a friend (who comes from the other direction)

I seriously considered giving him my old phone so that he could phone here if he needed help but DH vetoed it.

I think in the summer holidays I will go down that route when it is a more common event. I see no need though for him to have a special one though.. my old £9.99 nokia from 10 years ago has a long battery life, only makes calls and texts and I can set calls in and out so no brainer for me.

LynetteScavo Sat 11-May-13 22:50:09

Hmmm....as a product they are much better than other similar items (phones looking like little plastic bears hmm for example).

I would have considered giving DS1 one of these in case he was separated from me on a day out. He wouldn't have had the ability to ask a stranger for help. DS2 and DD probably would. If I had a spare £55 I wouldn't mind getting one.

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 22:50:33

Never why did your DH veto it? It makes perfect sense to me to give a child a cheap mobile whey they're going out alone/with friends.

I'm 44 and my Mum used to give me money for the public phone box in case I needed to contact her.

I can't remember the last time I saw a public phone box so it makes perfect sense.

I do think this is a generational thing and that the next generation...having never known life without mobiles, won't bat an eyelid at giving them to their kids.

Startail Sat 11-May-13 22:51:39

Both DDs had phones at 10/11 when I started just dropping and running at difficult to park dance classes, because they keep different holidays there is always the chance of mix ups.

Startail Sat 11-May-13 22:53:08

Yes DD1 vaporised, having a phone certainly wouldn't have made her better.

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 22:55:07

Lynette you don't need a spare £55

You can get a basic PAYG mobile for £9.99 and stick a fiver credit on.

LynetteScavo Sat 11-May-13 22:56:04

WorraLiberty, it's unnecessary like a lunch box in unnecessary because you could just use an old ice cream box, or a handbag is unnecessary like you could just use an old carrier bag. Some things are just nicer. And if you have the cash.......

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 22:57:47

I understand that. I was just kind of answering your post generally, as you said your DS wouldn't have the ability to ask a stranger.

HoneyDragon Sat 11-May-13 23:01:58

When my ds was 5 he had a Firefly, so its nothing new. We worked weekends at festivals. It was lipped to his trousers and tucked into his pocket.

We had a safety drill, this was an extra precaution.

HoneyDragon Sat 11-May-13 23:02:51


Iaintdunnuffink Sat 11-May-13 23:06:18

I gave my eldest a mobile from a youngish age for several reasons. I can't remember the exact age, somewhere between 6 & 7. We picked up a simple payg for next to nothing, loaded it with a fiver and didn't pay for any data. It was cheaper than most of the usual presents he was given by relatives.

I have no problem with younger children having access to a phone but would not pay £50 for one. We put a few numbers in, home, Mum, Dad, Nana. It took him a few minutes to learn how to call and taught himself how to text.

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 23:10:48

Exactly Iaint, it's just common sense and so not a big deal nowadays.

I think some parents are thinking that mobile phones are something 'special' because they didn't have them when they were young.

It's 2013 though and there are very few phone boxes left in the world grin

And if anyone doesn't want their child to have their own phone, why not buy a cheapo and call it 'the family mobile'...there for anyone to take out should they need it.

gordyslovesheep Sat 11-May-13 23:27:39

ahhhh Worra the good old emergency 2p grin

WorraLiberty Sat 11-May-13 23:29:44

I used to get home late for dinner and pretend the phone box swallowed it.

But in truth, I would have bought 4 chocolate footballs that cost 1/2p each grin

<< Old gimmer smiley >>

SE13Mummy Sat 11-May-13 23:56:22

We've been picked to roadtest one too - DD1 (aged 8) is going to do the testing, not because she's out in SE London by herself regularly but because she thinks she'd like a mobile (a number of her friends have them) and there are occasions when it would be reassuring to know she could get in touch if need be e.g. the hour or so between finishing ballet and her next activity when she hangs around in the community centre with the others who are waiting.

We also go to a festival each year and last year, for the first time, she was allowed to go to from the camping area to the main stage area by herself and vice versa. She had our mobile numbers with her, knew where we were etc. but we had no way of contacting her. The 1stfone will be useful back-up this year.

I do like that the 1stfone has no digit buttons and, in essence, acts like the old BT chargecards. DD1 is very aware that walking down the road with a fancy mobile is not a smart move and she likes the look of the 1stfone because, "it doesn't look like something anyone would want to steal from me". She's right - it doesn't look like something worth stealing and, in any case, the numbers themselves can't even be accessed as they aren't stored within the phone.

DD2 (nearly 4) will not be helping to testdrive the phone.

angcas972 Thu 22-May-14 12:16:40

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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