4 Back-to-School Smartphone Alternatives to Keep In Touch With Your Kids

PARENTS ARE going through a back-to-school and back-to-in-person-activities problem: How to give teenagers and preteens a method to attain them, with out opening a door to the screentime temptations that include a smartphone.

A rising contingent of kid psychologists and different consultants suggest dad and mom “Wait Until 8th” (as in eighth grade) to give their youngster an unrestricted internet-connected gadget. “At the stage of development where [kids] are struggling the most with focus, impulse control and identity, we prematurely give them an adult tool that provides distractions,” mentioned Melanie Hempe, the founding father of ScreenStrong, which advocates for decreasing display screen time for youngsters.

Some dad and mom use software like Bark or Qustodio to place limits on youngsters’ smartphones. Others buy “basic feature” telephones (aka “dumb phones” or flip telephones) for his or her youngsters. These days, nonetheless, even flip telephones can normally entry the web, so it’s higher to choose a tool that provides extra management. Here, 4 favorites of oldsters, consultants and youngsters.


F. Martin Ramin / The Wall Street Journal

To Stick to the Basics in Style

The Light Phone II received’t permit your youngster to get on the Internet or social media, however it’ll permit him to name and textual content (together with group chats) on the


community, in addition to entry easy instruments like an alarm, calculator and music/podcast participant. The glossy black-and-white design appears to be like grown-up sufficient to appease your 13-going-on-30 center schooler. But the gadget is costlier than our different picks, doesn’t at present supply GPS monitoring and received’t ship till the autumn. $299 plus plans from $30/month,


F. Martin Ramin / The Wall Street Journal

To Fit In With Peers

Designed to mimic the looks of an iPhone or Android (however with out entry to web, video games or social media) the Gabb is nice for youths involved with being the odd one out. It’s additionally the gadget Ms. Hempe recommends to households due to its accessible worth and plethora of parental controls—from screen-time limits to GPS monitoring. The telephones run on Gabb’s personal 4G LTE community, no contract required. $100 plus plans from $20/month,



F. Martin Ramin / The Wall Street Journal

To Communicate Without Fuss

Exclusive to Verizon prospects, the GizmoWatch 2 lets youngsters be in contact with 10 authorized contacts and comes with GPS monitoring. But super-texter dad and mom beware: You have to use the GizmoHub app to textual content the watch from your personal cellphone, there is no such thing as a group texting and your youngster can solely textual content a pre-written phrase, emoji, or voice message. New York mother of two Katie Barr Cornish mentioned, “The Gizmo seemed more fun for my daughter, and less likely she’d lose it since it’s on her wrist.” $100 plus $10/month,


F. Martin Ramin / The Wall Street Journal

To Use Age-Appropriate Apps

Pinwheel telephones entry neither the web nor social media, however supply their very own age-appropriate, nonaddictive apps like a digital journal, e-reader and


language app. Parents use a companion app on their very own telephones to select completely different modes like “school mode” or “free play mode” that permit or block options. Only whitelisted contacts (authorized by a mum or dad) can work together with the kid. From $149 plus plans from $15/month,


Would you get your tween a smartphone? Why or why not? Join the dialog under.

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