Small Kids Text and Browse without a Smartphone

Apr 09, 2013

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Recently a Wall Street Journal articlediscussed mobile apps that allow messaging/texting for free. The article focused on how these apps are taking away significant sums of revenue from wireless telecommunication companies and from Apple and Facebook.

In fact, tens of billions of texts are processed daily by these mobile messaging apps. If you have a teenager, you know how many texts can be sent per day.

Some of these messaging apps include WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, and KakaoTalk. These apps, like Skype, have become indispensable communication tools for hundreds of millions world-wide. These apps are in the spotlight for a land grab by software developers, wireless carriers, and others interested. Thus, the interest and fanfare are not going away.

Do little children really need a smart phone?

When a proud parent buys an iPod Touch for a small child or pre-teen, we beam with pride knowing our child will get into the mainstream. We buy the iPod Touch rather than a smartphone to avoid the cost of a data plan and texting plan--and to keep tabs on our child's access to technology.

Messaging apps, downloaded on a fairly benign device like an iPod Touch, have enabled small children and pre-teens with smart phone capability.

However, a free messaging app and the browser included on the iPod Touch enable the child to send and receive texts, to download web content, to download gaming apps, to see videos of all types, and to participate in social networks… all with a Wi-Fi connection at home.

With simple devices, kids don't need a real "smartphone" with a texting/data plan to act like they have one. My 11-yr-old daughter jumps on all Wi-Fi networks with her iPod Touch, including restaurants, grandma's house, neighbors, and more.

What's wrong with this picture?

Small kids and pre-teens are not malicious, but they are curious. They can get into all kinds of trouble by web and YouTube surfing, visiting app stores like iTunes and Google Play, and by socializing on web sites that are geared toward a more mature audience.

Smaller children and pre-teens need adult supervision. Parents need help too. Parents have limited time but are concerned about harmful things online. There is hope. There are software tools to take some of the burden of constantly monitoring.

Net Nanny, and other parental control software vendors, provide tools to help parents keep track of web browsing, to monitor and control mobile app usage, and to monitor social network interactions. Go to software review web sites like TopTenReviews.com to see what's available.

Help is available and it's not cost-prohibitive. And it's worth it. It is your child.

I work for Net Nanny and all opinions are my own.