If you’ve been wondering when is the right time to let your child have a phone, you might want to check out this nifty little invention. It can be quite a parenting dilemma, because whilst there are heaps of instances when it would be great if my six year old had a method of contacting me, he’s clearly way too young for a regular phone. Even an old fashioned phone without apps, cameras or an internet connection is still capable of calling any number and racking up bills.
But what if there was a phone that could only call a few pre-selected numbers, didn’t have any Internet connection and had no apps or games? On those terms the prospect of giving my six year old a phone sounds like a win win situation for us both. Well the clever folks at OwnFone have developed exactly such a phone, which we’ve been trialing with great success the last few weeks.
I had a little bit of trepidation handing it over, knowing that he was going to LOVE having his OwnFone. I wasn’t wrong. He was keen to show it to any friends that came over, so I wanted to let him know it wasn’t a toy and it was for important calls. Having said that, we obviously had to practice using it so he could do it on his own if needed. So we called each other from various places in the house and garden, called Dad at work and even got a couple of my friends to call him. The handset number is printed on the back so it’s easy to find and remember. He picked it up in no time and was confidently calling and receiving calls in a few minutes.
Mr 6 is a little adventurer. Whenever we are out he likes to try and disappear off and explore as soon as possible. When we are out at public events that can get quite stressful as once he’s off exploring he doesn’t look back and I spend a good deal of time dragging his little brother along as I chase after him. Whilst I am proud and exhausted in equal measure by his adventurous spirit, knowing that when we go out he has his OwnFone in his pocket should he get lost is a little safety net I’m liking a lot.
Also with my son coming to an age where he stays independently at play dates and parties, has sport and music lessons after school and goes on school excursions, giving him his OwnFone means peace of mind for us both. If there’s any change of plan or he feels like he wants to come home, he knows he can contact me quickly and easily.
The phones are surprisingly well priced starting at $74 and the ordering process is a cinch, taking only a few minutes via the OwnFone site. You can include between one and eleven numbers and can choose between having words or images (faces) on the buttons. In accordance with ACMA requirements all handsets must feature one button for use in contacting emergency services ‘000’. This has lead to some great conversations with both my boys about when to use 000 and who is available using that service. Customize the wallpaper using their background colours or patterns or upload your own picture to display on the front and back of the handset. The child’s name will be printed on the front of the phone.
We signed up for a one month prepaid service and when it was time to renew, easily recharged for another month via the OwnFone website. All the details we needed were clearly displayed in the introduction letter we received with the handset. Whilst we love the versatility of the month to month prepaid service, they also have 12 month connection plans should you want something more permanent.
Having given it a thorough work out over the busy holiday season we have only one suggestion, which is the inclusion of a lock button. With Mr 6 being an avid climber, he was worried he would knock the buttons whilst playing. I said just try it out and indeed five minutes later he called me accidentally from his pocket. This lead to him deciding to have it switched off most of the time, knowing he could switch it on anytime should he want to use it. As his age he understands the concept of a lock button well, so could have used it easily to enable him to keep the phone active.
Other than that Mr 6 would just like to add that he likes how the buttons make noises so you know they are working. He also likes the volume control so you can make it louder if you are somewhere noisy. Personally I cannot think of a better phone for young kids. OwnFone gets 5 stars from Flying Start Kids!
Update: OwnFone Australia have advised that based on this feedback all kids phones will now have an included Lock feature. Not to worry if you already have a handset, OwnFone are happy to retrofit it with the Lock feature so your little one won’t miss out.