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Why I Didn’t Need to Give My Kid a Cell Phone

This post was NOT sponsored or paid for.  In fact, I really liked the product so much, I had to write about it!

My daughter is in middle school, and by this point, every.single.kid has their thumbs firmly attached to a cell phone.  Well, every single one except for mine.

Go ahead, tell me I’m a parent of the dark ages.  Tell me how my kiddo is suffering, and this will land her on a therapist’s couch when she emancipates herself at age 17.  I realize how traumatizing this must be for her (there is sarcasm in those words, I promise you).

But growing up closer to the technology age, I also realized how easy it is for technology to get out of hand.  How easy it is for her or any other kid to misuse this privilege.  A cell phone is not a right bestowed on a six-year-old, it is a privilege granted to a teenager when they have shown they can respect technology rules.

So, for the past several years, I have heard a litany of reasons why my daughter should own one.  It started as a way to communicate with her friends, and recently ended in, “please, don’t let me be uncool.”  While the last reason certainly tugged at my heart string, it was not enough to make me go to the nearest Verizon store and buy her an iPhone 6s (we all know that is what ALL the kids own, right?)

Why I Didn't Need To Give My Kid a Cell Phone

 

Instead, Hubby and I spoke over the course of many months to determine why exactly would she need a cell phone.

  • Originally, friends were off the list, but we decided that sounds more along the lines of banishing her to a tower after school and isolating her instead of finding a better way to control the amount of phone calls.
  • Text messages needed to be at a minimum (especially during school hours).
  • We wanted to be able to locate her so a basic phone wouldn’t be enough, it had to have GPS signal.
  • Apps were the scariest part of it all – those could get out of control and become an increasing distraction.

Hubby continued to flush out our wishlist, thinking there must be a perfect solution.  Finally, early November, one was released, but not in a phone format.

The Verizon GizmoGadget (not to be confused with Go Go Gadget from Inspector Gadget), was introduced to the market.  Somehow, Hubby happened upon it on its release date.  Lucky for us, several respectable websites like CNET had already done pre-release reviews which blew us away.

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The GizmoGadget is a wearable watch (similar to the iWatch from Apple), made especially for youths, and has a built in phone.  Parents control the call list (only 10 numbers can be on the contact list), text messages (can only be sent to and from chosen caregivers), and apps.  GPS is built-in so you can ping the watch and know where your child is.  You can set up quiet hours during school (so it doesn’t accidentally go off or receive a call from a friend), and even has a step counter (like a FitBit).

We weren’t sure if my daughter would receive this well – if it would be too juvenile for her, so when we introduced it to her, we thought we would have to sell the features.  But, we didn’t even have to do that.  She ripped open the package, started looking at the features herself, and fell in love with it immediately.  Activation, thank goodness, took only TWO MINUTES (no time at all really for my impatient child), so she could start calling my husband and grandparents and trying the text messages almost instantly.  She changed the screen, found a suitable ringtone, and figured out how to start measuring her steps (built in pedometer).

The text message feature only allows her to respond with 10 responses I set up, but she can also send voice memos to me if she needs to respond with something more complex.  She can also send me emojis (yes, just what a tween loves).

She can send and receive calls from the pre-approve list, no others can reach her.

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Image credit: Verizon Wireless Website

 

Mini Me is really excited to have the watch – a compromise from a real cell phone that she could find ways to get around or be pressured to break rules (she’s a tween, that’s what they do).  Instead, this watch looks cool, its functional for every item on our wish list (nothing more, nothing less) and we know we can find her or call her whenever we need now.

The GizmoGadget currently retails at $149.99 and is available in two colors (red or navy blue) – we got Mini Me the blue version.   All of these watches work exclusively on the Verizon network.  They attach to a plan for just $5 more a month (plus minutes if you need more).

I’m so happy that I didn’t have to break down and open the technology flood gates just to appease the “cool” Gods of Middle School.  Instead, she has a cool tech piece around her wrists that also allow mom and dad to keep tabs on her at all times.

(side note: In case you want to know what she calls her GizmoGadget – its her very own “Kim Possible Watch” – complete with sounds “do do DOO do…”  )

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  • This sounds amazing! I don’t have kids yet, but I already know the fight I will deal with when we get to kids that age. This sounds like the perfect compromise!

  • I want one for myself! My kid is still too young for a phone of his own, but I’m glad something like this exists. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stacey Eckert

    Wow, I wish I had one of these when I was younger! If I had children, I wouldn’t want them to have a cell phone either, but I would want them to be able to contact me and vice versa, so this would be the perfect solution! I love that the parents have complete control over it but it gives the child a sense of freedom. Great choice!