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

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 Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @10:56PM (#44988941)
    Speaking as the parent of a former 4-year-old, I don't think this is going to work the way you imagine. You're better off getting an adult to help your son initiate a Skype call on a computer or tablet. A preschooler simply doesn't have the cognitive ability to read and respond appropriately to error messages and prompts, nor will he have the attention span to carry the phone everywhere on the off chance that you'll call. And, once the call comes through, it will be hit and miss as to whether he would actually respond the way you hope (it's not unusual to see a child of that age say "Hi!" to a close relative over Skype and wander off - they don't mean to be offensive, it's just that it's hard for 4" screen to compete with whatever draws their attention in the real world). That said, I understand your desire to be in touch as much as possible and hope you can figure something out.
  • by inflamed ( 1156277 ) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:19PM (#44989129) Homepage
    I don't have a concrete recommendation on what to buy but want to offset the attacks you're getting with some encouragement. I am a well-adjusted father with a six year old daughter and an eight year old son. I spend lots of time with my kids every day, and don't ever feel like video chatting with them while we're not together, but have no issues with them having their own phones. I'm only 28 so I still remember what it was like to be four years old. I would have loved to have had such a device and wish I did have one at that age.

    My first computer was an Apple ][e from a garage sale at the age of eight (circa 1993) and it took me very little time (maybe a year) to figure out how to dial up the local freenet on my 1200/300 baud (couldn't get a stable connection at 1.2 kbaud!) modem, register an account with a completely fabricated credit card number and fictitious identity (I recall I specified my address as 123 Pooskin Rd.), and enjoy several months of access to lynx and pine. Ah, the good old days...

    Of course, when my parents found out, they freaked out and made me call up the freenet folks and apologize. I pretended to leave a message on their answering machine but (thanks to text files I'd read) I knew to put my finger on the "hang-up" switch while reciting my apology and explanation. The account worked for several more years (bless those techno-anarchists' hearts for recognizing a kid in need), but my dad went ahead and purchased PPP dial-up service shortly afterwards to prevent any more "incidents."

    The moral of this story? 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.

  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:26PM (#44989157)

    If you mean you can't keep in touch because you're a business traveller or divorced or something, get a laptop with a webcam, or a tablet, and have him leave it at home. If you want video games, get a DS or something... It's better at games than the phone will ever be, and the times when he's not allowed to game are easily managed by not letting him have it (or open it, or whatever) during those times.

    If you mean to keep in touch during the day... Please don't. At this stage in his development he needs to learn how to live without his parents a couple hours at a time.

  • Re:4 years (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:30PM (#44989173)
    "Says the single guy who can't even comprehend life-changing events like having a child."

    We understand them fine, which is why we avoid them.

  • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:53PM (#44989271) Homepage Journal

    Update the title to mention that you have a crazy ex who won't allow any contact. That'll definitely cut down on the number of rants.

    Or it will change the nature of the rants from "you're a shitty parent" to various white knightings and people who believe that men experience equal justice before the law in family courts.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @11:57PM (#44989297) Homepage Journal

    Uh. The kid is like...FOUR!
    Not saying they're too stupid to use a phone or too irresponsible to keep/maintain one.
    But they're four years old.
    Try to remember back to the time when YOU were four.
    Remember how adult and responsible and totally "with it" you were?
    Kinda tough eh?

    If you want to keep in touch with your rugrat, talk with his care provider and look at possibly setting up a computer with Skype or something.
    But a phone at that age is just way too much, way too soon.

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:19AM (#44989383)
    Good luck with that. 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. When the cops came to deal with the physical abuse, instead of sending the kids back home to the father, the state of Illinois decided to seize custody of the children themselves. No one claims the father provided anything but a safe and loving home to the kids. The state of Illinois just decided that putting the kids in jail (for their protection from their mother) is better than allowing the kids to return home. And that is just scratching the surface of the abuse that the courts have put on these kids.

    The short version of the story is, men and children get screwed in divorce courts. A good lawyer is only as effective as the mother wants to let him be.
  • Re:4 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @12:56AM (#44989519)

    "Says the single guy who can't even comprehend life-changing events like having a child.... So, either father a child yourself and then come to the adult table to talk shop, or kindly STFU."

    What is this, prehistory before writing, language, or contraception were invented?

    Some of us can (a) read, (b) learn without direct personal experience, (c) understand that having a kid is not worth the hassle, and (d) take action in avoiding procreation. It's green and helps the earth, to boot. But have fun self-righteously destroying the world with everyone and all that.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by multimediavt ( 965608 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:02AM (#44989543)

    Oh, you asked for this and all the others that modded you up, you AC, you!

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

    Ummm, so life changing events only happen to married people with children? And, I'm sorry but even single guys had childhoods and would have the ability later to recognize when one is about to get fucked up.

    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.

    There is *NO* reason a four year old "needs" a cell phone. None, zip, zero. If you were a reasonably sane adult you would know exactly why!

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

    Again, you have to father a child to be an adult and talk "shop"? WTFTM

    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.

    Actually, there are hundreds of studies that show that most fucked up children get fucked up by the home environment they are brought up in, [google.com] i.e., Mom and Dad did it. "Fucked up" children seek acceptance and emotional support from outside the family and often in or with the wrong people that end up reinforcing bad behavior or leading them into new bad behaviors, all to get back at Mommy and/or Daddy. The "influence of ignorance coming from society" is the finger pointing BS that every bad parent tries to run up the flag pole to duck blame for their effed up child. One only wonders how many of yours need psychotherapy.

    To the OP, cellphones aren't allowed in university classrooms let alone kindergarten. You truly are cracked and should get some help for yourself before you really screw things up. The child is young enough to forget this stupid crap if you stop now and think of something other than your needs, because that cell phone is certainly NOT fulfilling any four-year old's needs. Based on what I've read so far I'd say the child would be better off away from you and the mother, frankly.

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:26AM (#44989595)
    The guy doesn't have access to his kid. This sort of thing happens to men all the time. I have read enough of your posts to know that you are fully aware of how messed up our society can be concerning gender. Instead of telling this guy that he is abusing his child because a court doesn't like penises, you should be applauding him for doing his best to find a way to be a part of his child's life.

    My child did just fine with a myTouch when he was 4. Some children are destructive, and some children are not. A properly chosen phone is far more rugged than a Nintendo DS, and kids do just fine with those. For less than $50 he could get his kid a used myTouch [swappa.com]. An extra phone line can cost as little as $5 a month. So, for as little as $110 a child can have a father for the next year.
  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:35AM (#44989625)

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

    Not a chance. Here is the algorithm that divorce courts use to determine custody:

            return parent.hasPenis() ? NO : YES;

  • by raque ( 457836 ) <jimwall@ma c . com> on Monday September 30, 2013 @01:47AM (#44989665)

    Just so you know, I am a Stay At Home Dad and have been nothing else for 20 years. When Marissa Miller pulled the plug on working at home it was this sort of half halfheartedness that she was shaking out of Yahoo's business model. If your are working, then work and give either your employer or customers your complete attention. If you find yourself unable to separate from your child then stay home. You can't do both. Don't lie to yourself and your child that a cellphone is a replacement for your being there. It's not. When I married my wife we decided that childcare was of paramount importance. Since she was a well paid professional and I was a struggling student (Yes, I got that lucky), I stayed home. The son went to school in the day and I went at night, or he stayed with family. Yes, Family! You didn't disturb Mommy; Auntie, or Grandma, or Uncle or me or whoever took care of what needed doing. There was somebody who's job it was, and is, to take care of my son. As more children arrived my duties - Think about that word for a moment - Duty; ... my duties have continued. And by the way, Yes, that means I finally didn't finish my degree. Instead, I am there for my children. Yes I've had to sacrifice to do that. My children are worth it.

    A 4 year old is not able to handle a phone and is too young to be allowed to make the judgement of when to call you. They need to know to call 911 in an emergency and stay on until help arrives - unless there is a fire, then they get out! Go to someone trusted and have then call for help. That is it. They should be cared for 24-7 and their caregiver will make any calls needed. If you can't trust your child's caregiver to make every fucking decision that needs to be made get another caregiver or do it yourself ! A cell phone will quickly become a stick to bully whomever is the caregiver. "If you don't give me more ice cream I'll call daddy and he'll be angry at you"

    Save your money and send your kid to a good school. I always recommend a Montessori if at all possible. You will learn that one of the first steps to raising a healthy, happy and independent adult is having them learn to separate. They start to learn this at about 4. Yes you go away, and yes you come back. At school they learn to operate as a member of a society with rules and responsibilities. With family you learn to be part of a family. A mutually dependent social structure. That means every member needs every other. This is what you want, to raise a good person.

  • Re:4 years (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:02AM (#44989705)

    You are selling your kid short. My daughter is 4 and has figured out SO MANY things already using various tablets and phones. It's really amazing to watch them figure things out.

  • Re:4 years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sun ( 104778 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @02:11AM (#44989729) Homepage

    Actually, I gave my 3yo daughter an older smartphone with no SIM. She has the annoying "talking tom" app she likes.

    By having it accessible and fully functional, I achieve two things:
    1. She is not as obssessed with appropriating ours
    2. This is not a novel thing to be coveted, but rather just another toy. She plays with is maybe an hour a week, much (much much) less than she plays with her dolls.

    Of course, the phone stays home. The concept of her going somewhere with it is, more or less, unthinkable to me (though, to be fair, not much different than her taking her favorit doll with her places).


  • Re:iOS works fine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSeatOfMyPants ( 2645007 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @03:57AM (#44990073) Journal

    It may seem harmful or scary from an adult perspective for a kid to go without seeing one parent for 24+ hours on a regular basis, but a lot of today's adults were actually raised under shared custody -- and speaking from firsthand experience that did the 24-hour approach with a sibling, it was in many ways a *good* thing.

    My brother and I started shuttling between homes when we were around 4 & 9 years old (now 31 & 36): Dad had M&W nights plus alternated Friday night & weekends, Mom took us after school plus T/Th & alternating Friday & weekends. We knew we'd see the non-custodial parent within 24 hours, were kept busy being kids & following household routine, and so all we did was look forward to telling him/her any interesting news the next time we were there, just like we'd do with friends. We ended up being extremely close to both parents all through our childhood & onwards.

    Something from experience to seriously consider: there are developmental stages where a kid's instincts tell them to pull away emotionally/communicatively, and what starts out as a nice way to keep in touch when you're needed can eventually turn into them feeling uncomfortably obligated to reach out to avoid hurting your feelings. When I went through that to a limited degree with my parents, making myself ignore the growing instinctive need to pull away from them for years made it harder on all of us and had a lot of unpleasant repercussions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2013 @06:31AM (#44990477)

    Seen it happen in Texas. Pal of mine had one daughter, married a lady with three kids of her own. She ran off for two years, leaving him with HER kids. She came back seeing her kids from time to time, but never having anything to do with them other than a visit once every couple of weeks. He effectively raised the kids most of their elementary school lives. Then she met another guy, started divorce proceedings, took her kids back (well, I guess they were HER kids, even if they had hardly seen her in the past three years).... but the thing that really gets me is she tried to get him for child support - and he wasn't the biological father of ANY of the kids! And the state was going to allow it! He lost all visitation rights. Yet not once did anyone claim that he had been nothing but a kind, loving, sacrificing father.

    In the end, I think that the only thing that ended up happening is she got her kids, no visitation, no child support, and no division of assets. I guess you can say he got out lucky, but he did loose any visitation with the kids he had raised for three years after she abandoned him. At least he got to keep HIS daughter.

    I've seen a few other guys have similar issues - loving, kind, caring fathers, mother's a witch, even abusive, but kids will get awarded to the mother or another family member before the father. I've seen courts take kids out of loving households and place them in abusive homes and then try to blame the physical injuries the child has on the parents if someone even made a hint that the father was anything less than perfect and the mother tries to stand up for him.

    The system is broken, ran by social workers who are way underpaid and overworked (knew one who was really good, had a masters in the field, top pay in the field was $30k a year, and would often work 14 hour days - but there are tons of bad ones too, or ones who just don't care anymore), and it seems that it is almost easier to send someone to death row over a dad winning custody.

    Long story short - men get screwed by the system.

    And I guess the moral of the story should be to make sure you really know a person before jumping in bed with them. Sadly, I think many people end up learning that the hard way (if they ever learn it at all).

  • Re:Your best bet is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by netsharc ( 195805 ) on Monday September 30, 2013 @08:45AM (#44990913)

    Android 4.3 now has multiple user capabilities, where features can be disabled: http://www.howtogeek.com/170191/share-your-android-tablet-and-keep-your-privacy-with-a-guest-account/ [howtogeek.com]

    I'd say have 3 accounts: Admin, for Kindergarten use (no games), and for play time (Kiddie has to ask a parent for the password)...

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington