How Young Is Too Young for a Cell Phone? #VZWBuzz

How young is too young for a cell phone?

Baby chewing cell phone

Image: Thomas Kohler on Flickr

If you had asked me this question a couple months ago, I would have said Levi is DEFINITELY too young to have his own cell phone. He’s not quite 5 – who needs a cell phone when they’re not even in Kindergarten yet? Not my kid, that’s for sure.

But oh how things change. As part of the Verizon team of lifestyle influences, I was able to learn all about one of their latest connected devices – the GizmoPal by LG.

GizmoPal by LG - phone for young kids
The GizmoPal by LG is a wristband device that combines a lot of great features into one product. For me, it’s almost more like a next-generation walkie-talkie than a cell phone.

What Is GizmoPal?

GizmoPal is a wearable device designed for children ages 4 and up. Kids can make and receive calls using a single button, and calls are limited to care providers. (More on this in a sec.) The GizmoPal app allows you to locate the device with your smartphone, and it’s durable & water-resistant, too.

Isn’t 4 a Little Young for a Cell Phone?

As I mentioned above, if you had asked me a couple months ago, I would have said yes. And I admit, I’d never give my own kids a REAL cell phone until they’re mature enough to handle it. But the GizmoPal is different, and I think the stripped-down features make it much more appropriate for younger children to use.

GizmoPal Age-Appropriate Features

With the GizmoPal, you (the adult) are able to program in the phone numbers of two care providers. (For example, Mom & Dad or Mom & Grandpa.) Those are the ONLY two numbers the child is able to call using their GizmoPal. They can’t text. They can’t play games. They can’t dial strangers. They’re only able to call the numbers you’ve preset for the device.

As far as who can call the device – both designated care providers can make phone calls to the GizmoPal, as well as two additional contacts that can be enabled through the app. No one else can make calls to your child’s GizmoPal, even if they somehow get the number.

There are two additional features that I think are very appropriate for their target user age:

  • Auto-answer
  • GPS locator

Unlike a smartphone where you have to tap or swype the screen, the GizmoPal works with a one-button operating system. You can even set it to auto-answer your call, meaning you can communicate with your child even if they don’t tap the button to answer. I love this feature for places like large playgrounds with climbing structures. If I need Levi to come down, instead of climbing up after him, I can set the GizmoPal to auto-answer and talk to him through the wristband, much like a walkie-talkie would work.

The GPS locator is great for peace of mind, too. Using the GizmoPal app, you can ping your child’s device. The device location will be displayed, which is perfect for reassuring yourself they got on the bus from school or are at the friend’s house they’re supposed to be at.

So, How Young Is Too Young for a Cell Phone?

I think that as new devices like GizmoPal are created that are designed specifically for younger kids, this is a question parents will need to revisit more than once. Only you know your child’s maturity level and ability to use the device appropriately, and most importantly, safely.

I used to think that almost 5 years old was WAY too young for a cell phone. But after seeing the GizmoPal in action, I’ve changed my mind. Levi is old enough for a GizmoPal, even if he’s still many years away from a regular cell phone.

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  1. I have a 4 year old and a 9 year old and I would have never thought a cell phone was a good idea for them. But I love the ideas behind this. And making it so they can only call care givers is such a great idea.

  2. Yup, they’re too youg for it but I love the concept behind it. I have am 8 and almost 10 year old kids, they have iPods and they can receve and send text to us for free.

  3. I don’t know how I feel about this for every day use, but for a family vacation, or if you have a child who is a runner (my brother loved to go visit neighbors and eat cookies….without telling us that was what he was doing) it could be a great device!

  4. I like that you are able to see the location of the device via your smartphone. This sounds like a great device for kids too young for cell phones.

  5. I am so so so interested in this. I don’t have Verizon though, do you know if it works for other services ie AT&T? My daughter is nearly 5 and she has started wandering off while in store, this would be amazing!

  6. It was only when my son was in high school that we gave him a phone. I guess things are different now that there are kid friendly phones.

  7. This sounds like an ideal electronic for a young child to wear–if only for the fact that the parent can find them and talk to them at any given moment!

  8. I think that’s a great idea! I love the tracking feature. My only concern is the low levels of radiation they might be getting so young? I could be off base, but we are all so attached to these devices I slightly worry about physical side effects.

  9. Whoa! That’s super cool. I had no idea something like that even existed for kids.

  10. I’ve read a lot about this particular topic lately, and I’m still undecided. I imagine it depends on how the parents feel about their child and their readiness for a cell phone. I personally believe 10-12 is a good starting age.

  11. Rebecca Swenor says:

    This GizmoPal by Verizon is totally amazing indeed and I truly love the idea. I am for sure sharing this with my sister and my nieces for their little ones. I love they can call two care givers that have been programmed into the device. Thanks for sharing.

  12. It’s great they now have age-appropriate cell phones. I think more than anything a GPS locator is the best feature.

  13. I could see my son who is 3 really loving this. I don’;t know how I feel about it, but I would give it a try for sure.

  14. I think this is a good gadget since you can always locate kids. It’s kid friendly and you could easily contact them.

  15. Wow. That’s a hard question to answer. I’d like to keep my (hypothetical, future) children playing with building-related toys as much as possible (then again, I’m biased – I’m a mech eng, so I spent most of my childhood using tinkertoys, legos, etc.)… That said, it’s good that this is a toy that 1) mimics ‘what mommy and daddy are doing’ (since that’s always appealing) and 2) is useful. 🙂

    lauriel of

  16. A must have gadget for every kids. This is truly useful specially when you are going out in public places like shopping malls and stores. Great idea from the makers.

  17. Hmmm… knowing my 5yo nephew he would just take the bracelet right off! Is there a special band to prevent that from happening? It definitely sounds like something I would get him just to ensure of his location and to get him used to calling for help/communicate when he feels he needs to. It’s a great way to teach kids that you can always reach out to someone when you feel a need for emotional comfort!

  18. Cool! This GizmoPal is looking amazing. After reading your blog I am thinking of buying this beautiful colorful wristband for my son. It was great to know about such an interesting technology. Thanks for sharing it.

  19. I will say that giving a cell phone to five years old kids is something odd no matter in the shape of wristband what so ever. I am sorry GizmoPal but I won’t give it to my kids. Let us consider the side effect of RF to our kids brain development, is it secure? Is it good for kid’s health?

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