Parents today are very concerned about giving their children access to technology. Specifically, smartphones get a particularly bad rap. Many parents consider that giving their child a flip phone will protect them from the dangers that smartphones can pose. The truth is, it may not be better for your kids to have a flip phone and in some cases could be even worse.
One reason parents decide to give their child a flip phone is that they feel their child is too young to have a smartphone. They also want to make sure that their children are unable to access all of the apps that you can install with a smartphone. Unfortunately, modern flip phones are not quite as safe as people might think.
Device Still Has Access
Flip phones are extremely basic. This is the main appeal for many parents. The devices still have access to the internet though, and as such, they have the capability to view YouTube videos, check social media websites and more. Sure the sites may be harder to pull up and harder to navigate, but teenagers can sure work hard at something when they want to.
Without access to an app store like Google Play, flip phones do not have the applications or capacity to install parental controls. This means that your child’s texts, calls, and activity on the device cannot be monitored or controlled. There usually aren’t any built-in parental controls on the device either.
The ability to monitor and restrict access to the device is an important part of teaching your children how to use technology responsibly. Without controls or app restrictions, your child could spend all day watching YouTube, or be communicating with someone on their flip phone and you would have no idea it was happening.
No Time Limits
Along with the lack of parental controls, you also lose the ability to limit the time they spend on their device. Sure the phone may only be able to browse websites and play Snake, but they could be doing that all day long. This also doesn’t allow you to restrict texting in the middle of the night or during school hours. As a teen, I remember sitting and talking on the phone for hours at a time. While many kids these days don’t actually talk on the phone, they do text, and a flip phone will not prevent them from texting at inappropriate times.
No App Control
While flip phones don’t usually have access to the entire Google Play or Apple App Store, there could be apps your child could download on the phone. There are games and even some popular apps. By giving your child a flip phone instead of a smartphone you can give them a free pass to install anything they want.
The best plan of attack is to skip the flip phone and get your child an Android phone that can be controlled. You can lock a smartphone down even more than you can a flip phone by creating settings and limits through a parental control app like Boomerang. Plus, who really wants to go back to T9 texting anyway?
Just let kids explore. You don’t need to monitor everything they do. If you do, then they will have less trust in you. Sure watching porn isn’t suitable at all for kids. But limiting their usage time? Come on, you gave them a phone just so you can take it away within a matter of minutes? If they become mature enough to download a gory game, let them play it. If they grow the balls to start into horror games, let them. They know what they are doing.
Thanks for your comment. Many different approaches exists in today’s families (many different parenting styles). There are also many different maturity levels in kids that can process the content you are referring to but others cannot. One of the goals of our app is to give parents an occasional nudge to start conversations about device usage. We have many good examples where a combination of automatic limits and parenting work great.
“They know what they are doing” you say. Really? I see the daily abuse of technology as a sub teacher even from the “good kids.”
Hi Ruben – some kids are definitely ahead of their parents. As families, we need to bridge that gap and have our kids teach us too. We also like to work on a “lead with trust” first then is broken the consequences follow. reality is, each family is unique, there are no perfect guidelines that will always work as advertised.
I agree with you, I never got screen time limits.
What if they start messaging someone who says they’re a kid but really they’re a child molester?
Hi Charlotte – this is where parents must stay on top of their kids communications, especially when first giving out a smartphone to their child, which is a mobile computer. If such behaviors are discovered, contacting your local authorities would be a wise step in addition to sitting down with your child to discuss communication tips via a smartphone.
The article neglected to mention that parents can get a talk and text only plan for their child’s flip phone. We have this for our son, so he can text and call, but not access the internet. And if it does use Wi-Fi, it’s too painfully slow to bother using. This is a good option for this child, but for another child, it would not be a good choice because her conversations need closer monitoring. It comes down to the individual child needs and parent preferences. Thanks for the article.
but flip phones do not alot of stuff to do
The new Samsung Z Flip is pretty powerful but think most kids are not getting one of these from their parents 😉
It may be the best device but at the same time your child might become and introvert and not wanting to go out because they are afraid to use their flip phones in front of their friends who all have smart phones. I have seen children being brutally judged and made fun of because they have a flip phone; we have to also remember our kids are in a different generation.
Hi Gloria, thanks for your comment. You’re right, it’s sad that we judge ourselves so much by material things.
Is there any software that enables me to block the internet and app store on a flip phone?
If the device is running Android version 5.0 or higher, we should be able to help you on those.
I had a flip phone in high school until my senior year. (That was last year) it was more affordable for me. I guess this article is more about younger teens just starting off with getting a phone but it worked pretty well for me. I got teased a bit for it but I just laughed along and said I just hadn’t graduated from the 90s yet😂 it wasn’t the worst thing to have though I didn’t like not having access to my social media’s and my banking apps and work schedules. Overall it was a way more affordable option but once I was able to get and iPhone I sure did not miss it. I think as long as the kid doesn’t have anything they necessarily need a smart phone for like work related things or banking apps, a flip phone would be totally fine as a sort of training wheels for a cell phone until they can show they’re responsible enough for a smart phone. While they don’t have parental controls, parents could still limit when or where they’re allowed to have the phone. Maybe no cell phone unless you’re in the same room as a parent. Maybe no cell phone in their bedroom or only an hour a day. Maybe they can only use it when they aren’t home. Over all it’s up to the parents or guardian to make the rules. Personally I think that an Android or another smart phone would be a good choice because it is more easily monitored and just overall easier to use.
Thanks for your comment and sharing your story with us!