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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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  • by rwven (663186) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:50PM (#44988875) [] Looks like it's a device administrator app or something like that. Worth looking at...?

    Direct store link: [] Looks like it's got pretty good reviews.

    In other words: Maybe get a super cheap android phone and stick this on it...

  • Re:Are you serious? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:56PM (#44988937)

    Sounds like the parent and child are separated. Nothing wrong with trying to stay connected at a distance...

    Giving a 4 year old a phone is not the solution to that problem.

    By the way, my wife and I Skype three times a week with our grandchildren who are about that age. Works much better than handing them a phone.

  • No (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:01PM (#44988973)
    If you need to get in touch with him, call his sitter or day care and ask if they will put him on the phone. No way in hell a 4 year old needs a phone.
  • Fisher Price (Score:4, Informative)

    by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <> on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:21PM (#44989137)
    Fisher Price is the only maker of a phone you should give to a 4-year old.
  • by smhsmh (1139709) <smh AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:24PM (#44989153)

    You haven't been completely clear, but if the mother has primary custody and wants to limit your misogynist contact, she can obviously control the amount of contact you have. The specific device won't matter if she won't let him use it, or simply takes it away.

    If she has called you a misogynist pig in any way that was recorded and which can be proven, you need a lawyer to deal with this I'm presuming you are not actually a misogynist pig, so your wife's unstable slander would be useful if you want to gain more control.

    As for specific devices, at 4 your son knows what you look like. Why is video chat better than simple audio phone? There is still this thing in the universe called copper-wired POTS. You can phone at times you both are available (if the mother doesn't interfere) and at 4, you might be able to teach him how to phone you.

  • by bedroll (806612) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:33PM (#44989183) Journal

    When my son was 4 I gave him my Droid Incredible, which was deactivated when I upgraded. He liked it, and would play angry birds sometimes. He also took pictures (the camera isn't great but it's better than pretty much any kid's camera available) and listened to music on it. It was pretty impressive the way he customized the device, too.

    My friend gave his son, who is a little younger, an iPod Touch and an iPad around the same time. I know his son uses his devices more than mine.

    Contrary to the bulk of these responses, both children were up to the task of having and caring for a modern touchscreen device. You'll want to slap on a good case, and you need to know you can trust your child with it, but they're fine.

    As for the recommendation... Well, this is an area where Android is playing catch-up with iOS. iOS has lots of parental controls so you can lock down default apps and prevent installation of unauthorized apps. I don't think either OS is particularly easier to learn, but the ability to control some aspects of the OS might make this an easier sell to the child's other parent, or just easier to monitor for you. If you get an Android device, I suggest you get one that can use the user profile features in Android 4.3 (it was added in 4.2 but there's more control in 4.3.)

    However, I'm not sure a phone is really necessary. In fact, I think a phone would be more likely to be dragged around when not needed and more easily lost. It's more likely to become a nuisance. Since your son won't be with you, you have to consider the people he will be with. You don't want the device to become a problem and be taken away.

    I would suggest an older device, this way it's less of a loss if it's broken or lost. At this point, you could easily get an older iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. A first generation Nexus 7 isn't a bad choice either. I'd go with one of the tablets, personally. They're better for video chats.

  • An actual answer (Score:4, Informative)

    by tom229 (1640685) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:41PM (#44989227)
    To answer your questiong in lieu of judging you, giving you parenting advice, and prying into your personal life (as everyone else seems to be doing) I would suggest this []. LG Migo VX1000 is very robust, can dial 4 pre-programmed numbers, and also 911.

    Smart phone and video chat is probably out of the question for a few years. At 4 years old I would be concerned he's too young to even handle a device like a Migo. Be prepared for lots of accidental calls to 911 :)

    Best of luck with everything!
  • iOS works fine (Score:5, Informative)

    by ff1324 (783953) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:43PM (#44989239)

    I'm a firefighter, my wife's a paramedic...we're away from our kids (not simultaneously) for 24 hours each shift.

    Facetime is a wonderful thing for when one of them needs, well, a little facetime with whatever parent is at work. They get to chat with grandparents as well.

    We bought a couple of refurbed iPod touches, put them in otterboxes, threw a few apps on them, and handed them over. They can facetime us as long as they have wifi (at our house, family, close friends), their texting is limited to iMessage and locked down to the existing contacts...this way they have an opportunity to learn proper etiquette and manners about the phone and texting and pictures.

    They're 7 and 8, have had this for two years, and they're not little tech junkies. Also, I'm not paying an extra $40 per month per kid for connectivity that's only occasionally necessary.

  • Re:4 years (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:23AM (#44989407)

    How funny!

    I am an adult with children and I would ask the same questions and offer the same advice.
    I have asked this question of divorced folk and have offered the same advice.

    Life does happen. Divorce screws kids for all of their lives. Both parents are to blame. (By the way, every kid is screwed up and every adult is screwed up. So don't think anyone gets off "problem/issue free".

    And, please, don't give me any bullshit. My parents divorced and most my mother's siblings divorced. I am experienced, educated and knowledgeable on this topic.

  • Re:4 years (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:56AM (#44989523)

    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.

    The description mentions nothing about the mother. You are correct that if the mother is a cow a phone won't help. In my situation a phone never gets answered, and when it does a round of motherly verbal abuse in the background ensures it is soon hung up. Court order demanding phone contact, or no.

    In regard to the article poster, change your circumstances. If you are separated and it's messy then get into court, get regular access. That's time consuming, expensive and won't get immediate results. Most courts are pretty lame about enforcing orders when the mother breaks them, even seriously, but will come down on the father like a tonne of bricks for even minor infractions like being half hour late because of traffic.. be sure you are ready to honour a court order 100% if it's a messy situation and she's out to get you.

    If it's just work has taken you to another part of the world (or a separation where things are amicable) then work with the mother. Use anything - her phone, skype, etc. Better yet, change your situation. Transfer home, move closer, etc.

    Giving a 4 year old a phone is really a bad bad idea.

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:24AM (#44989779)
    Sad but still completely true.
  • by mysidia (191772) on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:26AM (#44989791)

    I pal of mine has spent the last year trying to get his kids returned to him. He had full custody in California, and when the kids went for a 1 week visit to their mother's house in Illinois, the state decided they would just give her full custody and declare it illegal for the children to leave Illinois.

    You should talk to your lawyer about that, but I believe the answer is... pursue action against the mother in California. Since she lived there very recently, your state should have clear legal jurisdiction over the matter.

    Get a judgement from a court in California, and then go to Illinois to have the judgement enforced.

    Or else, try to get criminal charges made against the wife --- she'll want to come answer for the charges, or else face extradition.

    Either way... you can't flee across state lines to avoid civil or criminal charges in another state; the judgement made in one state can simply be executed in the other, as long as the judgement is made in a court with jurisdiction over the individual.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <> on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:31AM (#44989805) Journal
    I can back up this guy as I have seen it happen here in AR too. doesn't matter if the bitch cheated, she is a piss poor mother, she has a vagina and that is pretty much all that is required to get full custody in this state. I have seen friends that were fricking GREAT dads lose their kids to women that ended up being junkies or drunks or just fucking everything with a dick, didn't matter, the courts will go with the female if she has a pulse.
  • by SmarterThanMe (1679358) on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:57AM (#44989875)

    I'm going to assume that this isn't just a troll post. It is a pretty freaking ignorant question.

    Wearing every single one of my hats (teacher, parent, part-time academic in linguistics (and, in particular, child language acquisition), techie, etc.), I'm going to claims some authority when I say this: DO NOT GET YOUR 4YO A PHONE. Mostly I'm adding to the chorus above, so I'm not going to bother rehashing the reasons against that everyone has already given, but I will add a couple more in dot points:

    @ We have enough problems with the social reliance on phones in adulthood, but in early adolescence it's a disaster, let alone infancy. For adolescents, phones bring with it all sorts of problems like increased risk of cyber-bullying, exposure to age-inappropriate content, and problems with Google/Apple sponsored apps^h^h^h^hscams. There is no good way to stop this for teenagers, so how are you planning to stop it for a toddler?

    @ Remote parenting does not work, and fairly consistently causes problems - you know all those parents whose Dads were at work until late at night? How did they turn out?

    @ There is no type of "play" involving a phone that isn't better done by a kid, physically, in the real world. A block sorting game on a phone? Brilliant, why not do it in real life?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @03:22AM (#44989943)

    Such complicated code with unneeded chances for bugs. Use the following instead (assuming parent has already been null and type checked):

    bool getsCustody(parent)
            return !parent.hasPenis()

  • Re:4 years (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrt_2394871 (1174545) on Monday September 30, 2013 @07:10AM (#44990567)

    Actually, I gave my 3yo daughter an older smartphone with no SIM. [...]

    Most phones, even if you remove the SIM, will allow you to phone the emergency services (999, 911, 112 or whatever). I believe it's a requirement of the GSM standard.

I wish you humans would leave me alone.