Sponsored By Ownfone
Perhaps your child is starting to become a little more independent, catching the bus home or being dropped off at parties and after school activities. Parents love the idea of being able to call their younger children to advise about changes of plans or have their child call to remind mum or dad about something they need, but many parents don’t want all the complications and risks associated with giving their younger child a proper adult phone.
OwnFone for kids helps to bridge the gap. It’s a very smart, low cost, custom designed “Dumb Phone’, much simpler than the traditional adult style “Dumb Phone” with no internet access, text messaging or touch screen. The OwnFone accepts calls from any phone but only allows access to a maximum of 12 phone numbers for outgoing calls, one of which is a ‘000’ emergency number.
Smart phones as an option for younger children can be problematic. They can be expensive (especially when lost or damaged) and having internet access and a touch screen with complicated parental controls can often mean parents put off buying their child a phone or they buy what’s known as a “Dumb Phone”, a phone that doesn’t have a touch screen for apps. Even “Dumb Phones” can have internet access though with a data pack included, that’s how mobile phones worked before touch screens after all. Many parents of younger children want their children to have the convenience of a phone without all the worry of dealing with filtering apps and internet access and the risk of an expensive device getting damaged or lost. The OwnFone is a great alternative.
This lightweight, simple phone is customised to your child’s individual needs and tastes. To purchase an OwnFone you simply go through the step by step set up process through the OwnFone website, assign the numbers your child needs to be able to call and choose from the many available designs and colours and style of buttons you want for your child’s phone. If you want to order a phone for a toddler that doesn’t read yet, you can even upload pictures or photos for the speed dial buttons on the phone instead of using contact names. Finally, you select your phone plan and the phone is delivered to your door fully set up.
I went through the sign up process with my nine year old niece, who, up until she received her OwnFone, had never had her own phone. She was delighted to have been able to choose her own design, the sign up process was easy and simple, in fact, she could have signed up herself except for the payment option at the end.
The phone was then delivered within a week by express post and set up was just turning the phone on.
Pricing of the OwnFone is very reasonable with customized handsets starting at $69.00 plus postage. Call plans start at $20 per month with included calls and most plans are month to month, so there is no long term commitment. Gift plans are also available, as are long term (6 or 12 month) plans which offer some good discounts.
My nieces feedback was that she thought the phone was “cool” and it was easy to carry around, she loved the purple tiger stripes, and her friend’s thought it was “cool” also. She is allowed to take the phone to school, and either turned it off during class time, or turned the volume down to vibrate only. From her mother’s point of view, she felt that it was a safe option for her daughter, and certainly came in handy. My niece’s mother also pointed out that because the phone is custom designed it also meant that the phone was less likely to be “borrowed” by a classmate. Another bonus is that the battery on this phone lasts weeks with moderate use, no concerns about the phone losing battery during the day. The OwnFone also has a unique ‘shut down’ button on the rear which allows a fully charged phone to retain its charge and be able to make calls for up to a year – perfect for occasional use or emergencies.
From a cyber safety point of view, this phone eliminates quite a few of the issues facing parents when thinking of purchasing a phone for a younger child or tween. Issues like access to unsuitable apps and websites, photos being taken and shared, Geo location stalking, data collection, and cyber bullying through apps and through messaging and SMS. Harassment and bullying can be a huge problem even with the old style flip phones or “Dumb Phones” as most have SMS and can have internet access with a data pack added to the phone plan.
Anyone can call the OwnFone of course if they have the child’s phone number, but kids are far less likely to harass or bully through voice messages or prank calls. Yes of course you can still prank call one of these phones, but cutting out the SMS and internet messaging cuts down the chances of this type of bullying substantially. Having this phone programmed to only call approved numbers gives parents peace of mind through approved contacts as well as knowing their child is not going to run up a huge phone bill.
Smart phones are not only expensive, but are susceptible to damage, and touch screens open your child up to the whole world of apps, and the internet, before many are mature enough to handle them. For many parents who are already playing catch up with their children’s digital world, having the option of a simple child friendly phone like the OwnFone might be just what they need to give them peace of mind, with their child being able to contact them and vise versa, but without the high costs, and associated risks with internet connected phones.