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Mobile Phones for Kids

by tgposzadmin on October 1st, 2006

disneymobileMobile Phones for kids? An interesting concept, and one which Disney Mobile, working off the Disney brand, hopes will be engaging enough for parents to purchase the extra phone and perhaps a few extra minutes under the family’s “plan”.

The big money may be in the parent’s plan and usage, getting the parents to switch to Disney Mobile and then add in the small extras that the children’s usage represents. Continuing to build brand-loyalty, by offering these extra services such as tracking the location of the phone (and thus the child) as well as controlling the usage of the child, no indiscriminate texting or calling unless it’s an emergency (and no, calling Suzie does not constitute an emergency) – these are good concepts. And unlike, ESPN Mobile, they appear to be poised to succeed.

Keeping parents and kids more in contact with each other (“Where should I pick you up after dance class?” or “Where are you going after the library?”), controlling usage so it doesn’t break the bank (with call and text restrictions during certain hours). You won’t get this initially from the commercials (which are now flooding TV and other outlets), there the message is aimed at the kids and how cool it is – thus the lobbying of you, the parent starts – coupled with the peers and perhaps older siblings, flaunting them at school using them everywhere.

Note, some schools have banned their use during school hours, so check with your kid’s school and if you get your child a mobile phone, from Disney Mobile or another operator, educate your child. Confiscation for the remainder of the year does no good for either you or the child. The reasons schools are so strict on mobile phones is because they (and pagers before them) have been used for crime (drug dealing, starting fights, porn) and even cheating on tests. Kids are pretty smart – there is even a ring tone that most adults over 30 cannot hear. Just Google “Mosquitotone”… Soon, a visual Mosquitotone detector for teachers appeared on the market. This is just like military strategy on a battlefield…

If your child walks a distance to school and you’re concerned about any aspect of safety, maybe you’ve been already thinking about this… After a little investigation, you will find that not only Disney, but other carriers as well, have surprisingly low cost plans to add the extra phone to a “family” plan. Disney Mobile, in it’s advertisements, is touting the GPS (Global Positioning System) features later in their commercials, so via your phone or a website, you can find out where the phone is and presumably where your child is. Disney does not exclusively have this feature (remember the little red dots of the Sprint Nextel commercials?).

You may be thinking that a mobile phone for your child is unnecessary. They are alien to our own childhoods, and if you’ve immigrated recently to this country they may be really alien (South Africa didn’t have TV until the 70’s). As a parent, the joy is to decide what is necessary vs. automatically giving them everything that everyone else has. You should decide based on today’s world, today’s issues, rather than your childhood world.

Remember, in the 80’s children were coming home from school and spending hours on the phone, a separate land line phone wired into their room, talking to their friends and dates. In the late 90’s, with the advent of instant messenger services from AOL, Yahoo and MSN, they were IM’ing each other. So, the paradigm shifts yet again…

Price should also be in your consideration, mobile phones are easy to loose, but with the GPS services and the cost being relatively reasonable, this part of the issue has continued to be minimized. Literally, it is not so much of a financial consideration as it was 2-5 years ago.

Like any piece of technology, it can be promoted as a lifesaver or disdained as a yet another “gimmie”. Especially if your child wants to be independent and he/she is aware or notified (as some of the services promote) when you are tracking him/her. Your child may wonder if you’re going to let them breathe anytime soon.

My advise, investigate the plans, note the features and prices. As parents, talk to each other about the pros and cons, then engage with your child, find out how they would use it, educate them on the issues at school and elsewhere. Make an informed decision.

Good luck.

From → Telephony

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