Can I confess something? I have been dreading the day Kate would ask for a phone. That day came about a year ago. Ever since, we have been having an on-going, long-winded debate. As a parent, I worried it would mean the loss of childhood and innocence, but I also feel like it’s our responsibility to help her make these transitions at the right time. After a lot of research, we have finally found a solution that we are convinced is the BEST first phone for kids. We are now all happy and excited about Kate’s first phone.
Have you heard of Gabb Wireless? I am convinced it is the perfect first phone. It allows kids to have access to family and friends (and for you to have access to them!), all while keeping them protected from the internet, social media, and other apps they aren’t quite ready for. The phone looks like a smartphone and comes with their own number, but they do not have an app store or data access.
We’ve been using it for the past 2 or 3 weeks, and I’m surprised by how much I am actually loving it. It has been fun to be able to text back and forth throughout the day and keep in touch with her. She also babysits a decent amount, and it’s really nice to have that line of communication open. She is loving her freedom to communicate with friends, cousins, and grandparents, and I am loving the peace of mind I have while she does.
Gabb has all of the features you would want your young teen to have and none of the ones you don’t. It’s a great first phone to teach them about operating a device and using it responsibly. It is internet, social media, and game free. But Gabb hasn’t just taken parents into consideration: they designed the phones specifically with kids and their needs in mind, too. It looks just like a regular smartphone with a touch screen, fingerprint sign-in, and front and rear cameras. There’s also Bluetooth for earbuds and speakers (plus a headphone jack) and a sim card for accessing the music of their choice. Out of the box, each phone has 14 essential apps and no way to download any others:
We knew that when we were going to introduce phones to our kids, we wanted to have a contract in place. It’s so important to have really clear expectations and rules established right from the start. I found a good resource from Common Sense Media, and used that as the baseline for creating our own contract. We even included Kate in the development process of our contract, and she actually had some great ideas! She thought of things to add that I didn’t even think of, like not taking pictures of others without their permission.
The contract opens up an opportunity to discuss safe technology usage with kids, along with the consequences of failing to do so. It also assures kids that they will have freedom from parents within established guidelines.
Justin and I have talked about this a lot: we want to help them navigate social media and have internet access on their phone while they are still at home, so we can teach positive choices associated with those things. Eventually, I think we’ll move to an iPhone, but to start out, I feel like the Gabb phone is a perfect entry-level step for a kid’s phone and even as a community family phone.
I’d love to hear your approach with kids and technology! How are you wading these waters?
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