Many an elf-sized child found a cell phone in his or her Christmas stocking on December 25. The fortunate ones received mobiles ergonomically-designed for the elf league – ultra-simple, limited, rugged and parent-controlled.
The Enfora TicTalk, the Firefly Mobile™ and the Verizon LG Migo are new on the market and designed just for tots to pre-teens – and their parents.
Stripped of most of the features and options packed into adult cell phones, all three offer the kind of simplicity children need. They can dial only phone numbers pre-approved and pre-programmed by the parent. A kindergartner needs only three numbers – one to reach mom and one to reach dad and one for 911. Older pre-teens can handle more options, but still need curbs. The phones allow only voice calls. The child can’t download ringers, send or receive text messages and email, take pictures, surf the Internet or check voice mail.
For parents phones designed for children offer peace of mind. Adult phones, though child sized, offer a potentially dangerous entree to the adult world. What parent wants their child to have access to porn sites via the phone, or to be contactable by strangers? The three new mobiles enable responsible parental supervision while addressing these security issues. They make the day-to-day logistics of parenting easier – picking up and dropping off children, or staying in touch for play dates or school. And it's a simple matter for a child to phone for reassurance or help.
These three are only the start. Mattel is partnering with Single Touch to introduce a Barbie cellphone for girls 8 to 14. Hasbro is introducing a walkie-talkie system for kids called ChatNow, which looks and feels like a cellphone and allows children to chat within a 2-mile radius.
Sources: Enfora; Firefly; Verizon; ABC News