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10/09/13

Child's Play: Smart phones finally live up the billing when it comes to kids

You know you love your apps and probably can't live without your smart phone or tablet.
Technology has afforded the general population plenty of perks as far as knowing the weather on a whim or turning your fantasy football into a reality.
For parents, phones have become both good and bad.
Think about how many times you've been around friends or family and watched an adult pass a smart phone on to a small child in the hopes that the large screen and Netflix cartoon will keep them happy and occupied for hours.
That hand off from parent to child probably isn't too worrisome for babies or toddlers but what about when the kids are old enough to comprehend what they're watching or hearing?

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Suddenly, your child has the keys to your smart phone castle way too soon.
Television has solved this "child commandeers the remote control dilemma" by allowing parents to block channels that aren't appropriate for kids.
Now, phones have rightfully followed suit.
AT&T, for example, has introduced "Famigo," a nearly flawless subscription based software of sorts for your phone for less than $10. This decks out your previously thought to be decadent phone with only games, apps or videos made specifically for kids.
And don't worry mom and dad, they can't make any calls by mistakes or start texting your friends or co workers by accident.
Not surprisingly, Verizon has followed suit to some degree with its "Family Base" service, which is geared more toward the young adult crowd and allows parents to track usage, along with putting restrictions on amount of time a phone is used, who kids are texting or if they're downloading apps that magically appear on your phone bill next month.
This is a competent, comprehensive way to keep older kids focused and on task: You all remember homework, right?
You could argue that this dilemma could be solved much easier by simply not giving your young child your phone or simply not buying a teenage boy or girl a phone until they're 18.
That isn't exactly a practical solution and truly strips away the positives that technology affords as far as relevant, decent entertainment for kids, in addition to practicality or school related benefits for older ones.
The safest plan is one that includes some type of security for your phone. No one ever argued that your phone isn't smart, but now it also is intuitive enough to know exactly who is using it.

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