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Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old? 682

Posted by samzenpus
from the tin-can-and-string dept.
blogologue writes "I have a kid that's turning 4-years old soon, and I'm not able to be with him as often as I want to. To remedy this, I'm looking into whether or not getting him a phone could be a good idea to keep in touch. Being able to have a video chat is important, and as it is rare that a 4-year old has a mobile phone, and because he's got other things to do, it would be good to be able to turn off for example games and so on during time in the kindergarten. So other kids don't go around asking their parents for a smartphone. The main reason for getting the phone is keeping in touch, and as a bonus it can function as a device for games and so on during allowed times. Are there any phones that are suitable for such use? I don't mind if it's Android, iOS or something else, as long as it can be used to make video calls to other Android/iOS phones, and if it features other applications such as games, have limited, pre-defined functionality during certain periods of the day."
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Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old?

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  • 4 years (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:49PM (#44988865)
    Why did you have the kid if you can't be with him? Seriously, don't fuck his head up with a phone at that age. If you can't be with him, make the best of when you can, or stop choosing whatever you chose instead of him. Your fault if he grows fucked up.
  • Are you serious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:50PM (#44988867)

    Are you serious?

    The most "suitable" phone for a 4 year old is one without a battery.

    Really, you need to focus on more important things for your child at that age.

  • yeah no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by puto (533470) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:50PM (#44988873) Homepage
    buy him a book, an erector set, lincoln logs. Do not get him hooked on the electronic teat at such a young age. My father was an engineer and even though he worked late hours, he still would take me to the ice cream shop at night and help me with my homework and have dad and son time. The time he spent was quality.
  • by rwven (663186) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:51PM (#44988887)

    Sounds like the parent and child are separated. Nothing wrong with trying to stay connected at a distance...assuming whoever is with the kiddo is aware/approving.

  • Don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by santax (1541065) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @09:52PM (#44988899)
    Dude, just don't. I understand you want to speak and see your son, but the reason 4yo don't have phones is because they are not ready for their use. Let the kid play with playmobil and later lego. Let him be a child and when he's ready for a mobile, he'll tell you by putting it on his christmas-list. I wish you wisdom with your decission and hopefully you'll find a beter way to keep in touch with your kid.
  • by AuMatar (183847) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:00PM (#44988969)

    Exactly. If you can't be there, skype or some other solution while they're at home is a much better solution than giving them an expensive electronic device that will serve as a distraction to them at school. Not to mention any 4 year old I've ever known will quickly break or lose it. Buy a webcam, attach it to the PC, and call every evening. Or get a tablet, but make it stay at home. There's no advantages to the cell phone, and a lot of negatives.

  • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:01PM (#44988975)

    Sounds like the parent and child are separated. Nothing wrong with trying to stay connected at a distance...assuming whoever is with the kiddo is aware/approving.

    Whoever is with the kiddo is insanely likely to have at least one cell phone which they can hand to the kid once a phone call has been made.

    This whole question smells very, very bad. It's made clear that this phone will go to kindergarten with the kid. Really? Because a four-year-old might possibly just need to "stay in touch" while at school? Really?

    Then let's pay attention that the OS doesn't matter as long as it can do video chat to other IO/Android devices. Note that it's not phrased as "I have an X, so I need it to be able to video chat with that." No. Options. Because the four-year-old needs to be able to video chat with anyone. Now, sure, maybe they're just being proactive and they know they can't predict what phone they'll have in two years, six months, or fifteen minutes, but that's still shady.

    Oh, but wait. Where's the bit about "how do I make sure this phone isn't lost, stolen, or used inapropriately?" Where's the usual questions about parental controls? Mmmm?

    Right. Because this question is probably bunk. Or very, very ill-thought-out.

  • Re:4 years (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:12PM (#44989065)

    Why did you have the kid if you can't be with him? Seriously, don't fuck his head up with a phone at that age. If you can't be with him, make the best of when you can, or stop choosing whatever you chose instead of him. Your fault if he grows fucked up.

    Says the single guy who can't even comprehend life-changing events like having a child.

    News Flash: Life happens. Even when you plan on having children, one cannot even remotely plan for every event forthcoming (especially four years later) that would elicit the need for a 4-year old to have a cell phone.

    And if you would have shown even an inkling of experience in parenting in your smart-ass comments, you might have seen that.

    So, either father a child yourself and then come to the adult table to talk shop, or kindly STFU.

    And no, it's not every parents fault if a kid grows "fucked up". That is likely more due to the influence of ignorance coming from society, as you have so deftly demonstrated.

    Again, had you a shred of experience in this matter, you might have known that.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesupraman (179040) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:13PM (#44989075)

    https://d1jqecz1iy566e.cloudfront.net/med2/sb014.jpg

    Oh, and for god sake pull your finger out and take your parenting responsibilities seriously.

    Yes, I am sure you miss little johnny when you are away from him, so perhaps you need
    to spend more time with them when you can, and get used to them having some space
    and freedom when you cannot!
    Ruining his life with a leash is not a solution to your separation anxiety.

  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:16PM (#44989099) Homepage

    The reason we can't Skype is because her and her fat flabby "she-husband" run around the house naked.

    A good lawyer would easily take the kid away from them.

  • don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:19PM (#44989125)
    A 4 year old shouldnt have a phone, a 14 year old shouldn't have a phone. We really need as a society to get off the cell phone kick. Very few of the people who have a phone need one.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:29PM (#44989163)

    The kind that takes 14 years to deliver. You know, like when your kid is old enough to legally enter into a contract with a cell phone provider.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:51PM (#44989269) Journal

    Some people have to work. My 6yo daughter has been video chatting me and calling me on the phone at work since she was 3. We can't all retire on childbirth and she is the youngest of five spanning 19 years age. Many of us can be telepresent most of the time though. The modern age is wonderful. When you're 3 almost nothing will wait until daddy gets home. To her pushing a button to get remote facetime with daddy to negotiate a diplomatic solution to an argument or calling him to bring something home is a normal and expected part of how life works. Daddy is always there, no matter where he is. This is disruptive and transformational. This is a child who is going to come of age not understanding how some people are unavailable sometimes because this is the only world she knows. She is precocious, but this is becoming the norm.

    I encourage this because when I was three years old access to daddy was something I would never again enjoy in this life to the present day, for even one minute. I feel the lack did not improve my level of joy throughout my life, though I could be wrong. Sometimes daddy is an ass. As my mother is dead I have to accept her judgement on the issue. I can aspire however to be better: to be the available, accessible and good daddy I wished for when I was my youngest daughter's age.

    The future is here and it is scary and amazingly awesome.

  • Re:4 years (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:22PM (#44989403)

    No. If you've proven yourself incapable of taking care of your child by posting such a stupid Ask Slashdot question you should give your child to people who can better take care of your child. You do NOT deserve to fuck up the child's life any further.

    There are lots of people who are parents who shouldn't be. Because of that the world is more fucked up than it has to be.

    So, either father a child yourself and then come to the adult table to talk shop, or kindly STFU.

    The rest of us take parenting more seriously than you do, that's why some of us choose not to be parents. Just because you can fuck someone and produce kids doesn't mean you should.

    So YOU should STFU.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:28PM (#44989417) Homepage

    News Flash: Life happens. Even when you plan on having children, one cannot even remotely plan for every event forthcoming (especially four years later) that would elicit the need for a 4-year old to have a cell phone.

    News flash:

    Some separated parents don't have as much access to the kid(s) as they would like.

    If the mother's anything like the description she's probably already filled the kid's head with lies about misogynist-daddy and a phone won't fix anything.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:28PM (#44989419)

    This is a child who is going to come of age not understanding how some people are unavailable sometimes because this is the only world she knows. She is precocious, but this is becoming the norm.

    I'm not sure accepting that creating needy children who have no ability to be patient is a good thing; It will, and is, creating a slave generation. It has been proven time and time again that the ability to delay gratification is directly, and strongly, linked to long-term success as an adult. But if short-term thinking and immediate gratification got us into this mess, surely it can get us out as well.

    I encourage this because when I was three years old access to daddy was something I would never again enjoy in this life to the present day, for even one minute. I feel the lack did not improve my level of joy throughout my life, though I could be wrong. Sometimes daddy is an ass. As my mother is dead I have to accept her judgement on the issue. I can aspire however to be better: to be the available, accessible and good daddy I wished for when I was my youngest daughter's age.

    This explanation, while heartfelt and readily related to, is not a good reason to be doing what you are doing. A child who always has a parent to do things for him/her is a child who will not grow up. Part of growing up is taking personal responsibility, learning to be patient, and independent problem-solving ability. With an expectation that, with the push of a button, a parent will always be available to solve any problem that might arise, you are sowing weakness into the character of this malleable young person. You are, in a very real way, stunting emotional development.

    I know this is an incredibly unpopular thing to say right now, but consider that the first thing we do to a new child born into this world is to slap them in the face. Why would we do that? Willingly induce pain to a brand new life that literally hasn't even been in the world a minute? It's to induce breathing. To get that child sucking down yummy nitrogen-oxygen mixtures. The pain is for the benefit of the child. All too often, letting a child learn something "the hard way" is seen as child abuse, but the reality is that human beings don't learn things by being told, they learn things by doing. And a lot of doing involves screwing up and getting hurt. You can't accomplish or amount to much of anything in life if you aren't willing to endure pain, and struggle, and loss. This is a lesson that has gone missing in the latest generation, and as they start to move into the workforce, we're seeing clear signs that it has created a pathological problem that may take them decades to sort out, and in the interim leave them emotionally, financially, and even physically vulnerable in ways previous generations were not.

    The future is here and it is scary and amazingly awesome.

    If I hopped in a time machine and went back 40 years and told everyone there that in the future, we will have instant real-time access to all of the knowledge of humanity, and global communication capability with billions of other humans, they would probably be shocked. And when I told them that in spite of these achievements, we mostly use these capabilities to entertain instead of educate, and have so ingrained them into daily life that we have created children incapable of functioning without continuous access to these devices, they would likely be equally shocked. I very much doubt they'd believe that this is how the technology would influence our society, believing it to be some kind of dystopian science fiction written by a hippie who smoked too much pot and got paranoid of the government.

    You're right. It's scary and awesome. But on the level, I'm going to go with it being more scary than awesome; Our technology has created an unparalleled degree of dysfunction in the everyday person. But I hope, very much, that I will be wrong in this conclusion and that my inability to see a future in

  • by davidwr (791652) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:28PM (#44989421) Homepage Journal

    Don't get HIM a phone. If you must, get a phone that you hand off to his teachers/day-care/babysitters when you aren't around, so you can call in an emergency and so they can call you from a number you recognize in an emergency.

    Once you've established that it will be adults in control of the phone, just get any old phone that can do video chat and which is on your network.

    But a 4 year old with a phone in his possession, for him to be responsible for? Unless you have very unique requirements and a very responsible almost-4-year-old kid, this is probably not a good idea.

  • Re: 4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:20AM (#44989583)

    Dude, back off.
    He could be deployed, divorced, hospitalized or whatever.

    You have no answer, then just but out.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChronoFish (948067) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:25AM (#44989591) Journal
    3 Things:

    1. You don't need to be a baker to know when you have a bad pie. (In case you don't get analogies: You do don't need to be a parent to spot a bad one)

    2. I AM a father of 2 and I can't imagine a case EVER where a 4 year old *needs* a phone. Just about every comment on here condemning the premise (and parent) that a 4 year old should have a phone is spot on.

    3. Best "phone" for a 4 year old is an old one with the battery taken out. Our kids loved these. Sometimes a block of wood worked just fine (yes, in our household we still use wooden blocks and other toys that don't come in fancy packaging, and yes our kids can pretend that just about anything is phone, or a car, or a plane)

    -CF
  • by Therad (2493316) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:32AM (#44989615)
    Look dude, we understand that you are hurt because she left you for another. And even worse she left you for a "fat flabby girl". But your attitude stinks. Your kid WILL have 2 mothers and a father. That is a fact. If you go around him calling them "cunts" and all sorts of stuff, you will fuck him up, because whether you like it or not he will have affection for them both and there is nothing worse for a kid than having to chose between parents.

    So for the kids sake, man up and stop being a jerk. There are loads of decisions that you and your former partner must be able to cooperate around, so you must find a way to be civilized around her.

    And back to your question, the kid should not have a phone with him to kindergarten. Not only does it disrupt the kindergarten but it will also get destroyed or lost in a week. Even if he is a little kid he must be able to feel he has his own space, not being constantly on guard because daddy might call. Give him a cheap android tablet that he can have around the house. Then he can be in his room and skype you, without you risking seeing naked people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:49AM (#44989677)

    Yes, yes, yes. Parents really need to understand how their hate towards someone the child loves will fuck up the child. Seriously, this is important: respect the child's mother for the sake of the child.

    I cannot even begin to describe how much my life has been fucked up because of the abandonment fears that fighting between my divorced parents caused. I was always living in the household of a parent that I was told was evil and wicked by the other. And then when one parent got too depressed to care for me I was thrown to the other parent who eventually kicked me to the street. I was used as a weapon for my parents to fight. They were too busy with their hate to see how fucked up I became (and I was booted out for being too depressed--my step-mother was going to leave my father if I didn't go).

    The article poster needs to ask himself if he wants the child to have 14 years of spiteful and antagonistic relationships between parents before the child is an adult. Does he want the child to develop attachment issues and develop an intense fear of intimacy? Does he want the child to develop mental health problems that may never be resolved? Or can the poster be a man and treat the mother the way that the child would want?

  • by gargleblast (683147) on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:15AM (#44989737)

    This seems as good a time as any to remind people not to believe everything they read, that there are trolls on the Internet, and responding to them only encourages them.

    This is all summed up in the ancient Internet nugget-o-wisdom "please do not feed the trolls".

    Cheers for now.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmr001 (103373) on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:30AM (#44989801)

    I know this is an incredibly unpopular thing to say right now, but consider that the first thing we do to a new child born into this world is to slap them in the face. Why would we do that? Willingly induce pain to a brand new life that literally hasn't even been in the world a minute? It's to induce breathing. To get that child sucking down yummy nitrogen-oxygen mixtures. The pain is for the benefit of the child. All too often, letting a child learn something "the hard way" is seen as child abuse, but the reality is that human beings don't learn things by being told, they learn things by doing. And a lot of doing involves screwing up and getting hurt.

    I'm all for experiential learning, but I don't know anyone who slaps newborns in the face to get them breathing. (N.B.: I deliver newborns for a living, and work with a bunch of other people who do as well and am aware of their practice patterns.) Babies usually squall on their own just fine, and for those that don't we'll vigorously towel-dry them. For the even smaller subset who're affected by maternal drugs or other conditions and haven't gotten it together to breathe, we'll flick their feet with a back of a finger (along with verbal encouragement, albeit mostly for our own amusement and by way of explanation to concerned parents). If they're still not sucking down oxygen after a couple of minutes then they get a mask to the face or a tube down the trachea. The previous practice of slapping newborns on the ass to kickstart them has been out of fashion ever since I started practice. Of course, practice patterns vary and maybe you live in a face-slapping place.

    The ass-slapping turns out to be unnecessary, though I have stood by while my own children attempted to snort juice up into their noses for an experiential lesson in why we might not do that.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:48AM (#44989855)

    I would have loved to have had such a device and wish I did have one at that age.

    The thing is, its the job of the parent to say no to things that the kid wants that wont be beneficial. Instant gratification taught to the child @ 4 is not a good start to life.

    If your kid needs mobile LTE internet, better give him a phone. Otherwise, he's going to get an early start on subversive behavior, perhaps stealing other people's phones.

    "If I dont spoil my child he will do bad things" is a terrible justification. If your child does "subversive behavior", you use discipline, and he becomes a better person.

  • by Endovior (2450520) on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:43AM (#44990019)
    Personally, I'd be inclined to assume that since the original question was asked by a guy with a name, and the comments about a divorce + lesbian relationship were made by AC (possibly you), that the latter are unrelated trolling attempts. Hence, GPs comment. Feel free to prove me wrong by posting with your name, of course.
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:45AM (#44990027) Homepage

    bool
    getsCustody(parent)
    {

            return parent.hasPenis() ? NO : YES;
    }

    Code like that belongs on the daily WTF... "parent.hasPenis()" is a boolean function.

  • Re:yeah no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gknoy (899301) <gknoy@NospAm.anasazisystems.com> on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:52AM (#44990051)

    Perhaps he misses the bus and is worried.
    Maybe he is lost in a store.
    Maybe his mom's car crashes and the kid can call 911.
    Maybe he misses talking to his dad and wants to talk to him.

    A phone is a tool, if you treat it as one. Seeing the unbridled joy as my son ran off with his aunt's iphone to do face-time with his grandmother was a life-changing moment: I finally understood the value of the smartphone as a tool. A knife is a tool, too, and some cultures are OK with teaching kids how to use them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @03:02AM (#44990087)

    I agree with the gist of what you are saying - buying a phone won't give the father or the child any more control over how and when they communicate. But:

    Why is video chat better than simple audio phone?

    I travel for work a lot and Skype video is infinitely better then audio phone for talking to my 3-year-old. If I try to talk to her on the phone she will often either lose interest, listen in silence, or say things like 'I'm playing with this." - "What?" - (holds up toy to phone) - "This!" - "But what is it?" - "It's THIS!"

    On video I can talk to her, but also watch her doing her own thing, playing, talking to me when she wants to and showing me things for me to comment on. She can see me, understands better that I am there with her, and neither of us are under pressure to come up with random things to say. It's a completely different experience and one that reassures her when she misses me and lets me see what she is up to, how she is progressing, and understand her mood better.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gutnor (872759) on Monday September 30, 2013 @03:18AM (#44990135)

    Amazing how /. technical elite become downright ultra-conservative assholes when traditional subject are concerned. Your post and many others would be the equivalent telling a woman in the 80's that there is no reason she would need a micro-wave if she cannot take the time to cook properly for her family.

    There are plenty of cases where a parent is legitimately separated from his kid:
    1. divorce: my wife is from a different country - if we divorce and she goes back closer to her family, it would take me at the very least several months to sort things out. My case is easy tough, I can consider moving at all. There are cases where it is simply not easy legally (Australia - UK is already a problem and that's an easy one culturaly, what about China / Russia / Japan) What stuff preventing the guy to move like uninteresting resume, lack of skills.
    2. he is deployed, a sailor, or anybody that needs to be months away from home. Maybe he wasn't 4 years ago. Crisis man.
    3. crisis. I have friends (with older child) that have had to take work several hundred miles away from home. People hit by the crisis are not the kind that can afford a personal jet for commuting. Moving a family to a new city to follow an unreliable jobs can be expensive and almost as bad for the kids. Not even considering that the kid could have health issue or other specific needs making it even harder to move.
    4. shit happens. I known/heard of people being separated for tons of shitty issues like health reasons, legal problems, visa problem.

    The reason there used to be no reason for a 4 year old to have a mobile in those situation was because it was socially acceptable to not interact with your kid in those conditions. I have never seen anybody suggesting that we should make a law prohibiting soldier, sailor to have a family for example. There is a possibility this guy is just trying to do better than what society is expecting him to. That is also his fucking right not to expose all the details of his potentially shitty situation.

  • Re:yeah no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Interfacer (560564) on Monday September 30, 2013 @04:45AM (#44990371)

    The kid is 4. If he 'misses his bus' then something is catastrophically wrong, because a 4 year old should not go to the bus stop and find his way home by himself. Dealing with a 4 year old is at the basic principle- no different from transporting a prisoner. They should always be in the care of someone: a teacher, guardian, babysit, parent, ...

    If you have to wonder if a 4 year old kid will make it home by himself in time for diner, then you're doing it wrong.

    I agree there are many applications where allowing a toddler on the phone is nice. But he shouldn't need it to fend for himself.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:35AM (#44990639)

    It matters. A stream of strangers sleeping in the same house, never knowing who's going to be next, is disruptive and unsafe. Those strangers often have direct physical access to the kids, and it should be considered from those grounds, much as running a bed&breakfast in the house should be considered for the child's safety. And if the male, or female lovers have mom over visiting them constantly, what are the arrangements for overnight child care?

    The same standards can, and do, apply to single dads who try to date.

  • by Zeromous (668365) on Monday September 30, 2013 @09:58AM (#44992107) Homepage

    You know what, I'm getting very tired at this 'citation needed' crap when someone is clearly providing an anecdote, and not regurgitating research.

    It makes you seem smug and smart internally, but really- to anyone with a brain it makes you seem small, petty and very uninteresting.

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