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Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old?

samzenpus posted 1 year,23 days | from the tin-can-and-string dept.

Cellphones 682

blogologue writes "I have a kid that's turning 4-years old soon, and I'm not able to be with him as often as I want to. To remedy this, I'm looking into whether or not getting him a phone could be a good idea to keep in touch. Being able to have a video chat is important, and as it is rare that a 4-year old has a mobile phone, and because he's got other things to do, it would be good to be able to turn off for example games and so on during time in the kindergarten. So other kids don't go around asking their parents for a smartphone. The main reason for getting the phone is keeping in touch, and as a bonus it can function as a device for games and so on during allowed times. Are there any phones that are suitable for such use? I don't mind if it's Android, iOS or something else, as long as it can be used to make video calls to other Android/iOS phones, and if it features other applications such as games, have limited, pre-defined functionality during certain periods of the day."

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4 years (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988865)

Why did you have the kid if you can't be with him? Seriously, don't fuck his head up with a phone at that age. If you can't be with him, make the best of when you can, or stop choosing whatever you chose instead of him. Your fault if he grows fucked up.

Re: 4 years (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988919)


Here's the full story. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44989003)

Why did you have the kid if you can't be with him? Seriously, don't fuck his head up with a phone at that age. If you can't be with him, make the best of when you can, or stop choosing whatever you chose instead of him. Your fault if he grows fucked up.

Listen, the kid's mother is a cunt, OK? There, I said it. A year ago she decided she was a lesbian and that our son would not grow up under the influence of a "misogynistic pig". OK? The reason we can't Skype is because her and her fat flabby "she-husband" run around the house naked. So go fuck yourself and your self righteous bull shit, you fucking asshole.

Re:Here's the full story. (3, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989099)

The reason we can't Skype is because her and her fat flabby "she-husband" run around the house naked.

A good lawyer would easily take the kid away from them.

Re:Here's the full story. (4, Informative)

smhsmh (1139709) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989153)

You haven't been completely clear, but if the mother has primary custody and wants to limit your misogynist contact, she can obviously control the amount of contact you have. The specific device won't matter if she won't let him use it, or simply takes it away.

If she has called you a misogynist pig in any way that was recorded and which can be proven, you need a lawyer to deal with this I'm presuming you are not actually a misogynist pig, so your wife's unstable slander would be useful if you want to gain more control.

As for specific devices, at 4 your son knows what you look like. Why is video chat better than simple audio phone? There is still this thing in the universe called copper-wired POTS. You can phone at times you both are available (if the mother doesn't interfere) and at 4, you might be able to teach him how to phone you.

Re:Here's the full story. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989213)

Sounds like you are the problem here. Probably a good thing that you're out of the child's life.

Re:Here's the full story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989217)

Update the title to mention that you have a crazy ex who won't allow any contact. That'll definitely cut down on the number of rants.

Re:4 years (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989065)

Why did you have the kid if you can't be with him? Seriously, don't fuck his head up with a phone at that age. If you can't be with him, make the best of when you can, or stop choosing whatever you chose instead of him. Your fault if he grows fucked up.

Says the single guy who can't even comprehend life-changing events like having a child.

News Flash: Life happens. Even when you plan on having children, one cannot even remotely plan for every event forthcoming (especially four years later) that would elicit the need for a 4-year old to have a cell phone.

And if you would have shown even an inkling of experience in parenting in your smart-ass comments, you might have seen that.

So, either father a child yourself and then come to the adult table to talk shop, or kindly STFU.

And no, it's not every parents fault if a kid grows "fucked up". That is likely more due to the influence of ignorance coming from society, as you have so deftly demonstrated.

Again, had you a shred of experience in this matter, you might have known that.

Re:4 years (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989173)

"Says the single guy who can't even comprehend life-changing events like having a child."

We understand them fine, which is why we avoid them.

Re:4 years (4, Insightful)

thesupraman (179040) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989075)

Oh, and for god sake pull your finger out and take your parenting responsibilities seriously.

Yes, I am sure you miss little johnny when you are away from him, so perhaps you need
to spend more time with them when you can, and get used to them having some space
and freedom when you cannot!
Ruining his life with a leash is not a solution to your separation anxiety.

Re:4 years (1)

ysth (1368415) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989159)

For the worried, the link is quite SFW.

Re:4 years (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989165)

the op talked a about a 4 year old - there was no differentiation on whether that was a child four years old, or a family member with the mentality of a four year old.

From the question, I certainly hope it's the latter.

No, I just figured it out. (5, Funny)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989201)

Blogologue's 3.9 year old son wants a phone, but doesn't know how to ask daddy for it. So he hacked blogologue's /. account and posted the question. Later he is going to spike his coffee, and make him think he wrote the post himself during a late night of slashdot reading.

That makes the most sense.

Are you serious? (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988867)

Are you serious?

The most "suitable" phone for a 4 year old is one without a battery.

Really, you need to focus on more important things for your child at that age.

Re:Are you serious? (4, Insightful)

rwven (663186) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988887)

Sounds like the parent and child are separated. Nothing wrong with trying to stay connected at a distance...assuming whoever is with the kiddo is aware/approving.

Re:Are you serious? (5, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988937)

Sounds like the parent and child are separated. Nothing wrong with trying to stay connected at a distance...

Giving a 4 year old a phone is not the solution to that problem.

By the way, my wife and I Skype three times a week with our grandchildren who are about that age. Works much better than handing them a phone.

Re:Are you serious? (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988969)

Exactly. If you can't be there, skype or some other solution while they're at home is a much better solution than giving them an expensive electronic device that will serve as a distraction to them at school. Not to mention any 4 year old I've ever known will quickly break or lose it. Buy a webcam, attach it to the PC, and call every evening. Or get a tablet, but make it stay at home. There's no advantages to the cell phone, and a lot of negatives.

Re:Are you serious? (4, Insightful)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988975)

Sounds like the parent and child are separated. Nothing wrong with trying to stay connected at a distance...assuming whoever is with the kiddo is aware/approving.

Whoever is with the kiddo is insanely likely to have at least one cell phone which they can hand to the kid once a phone call has been made.

This whole question smells very, very bad. It's made clear that this phone will go to kindergarten with the kid. Really? Because a four-year-old might possibly just need to "stay in touch" while at school? Really?

Then let's pay attention that the OS doesn't matter as long as it can do video chat to other IO/Android devices. Note that it's not phrased as "I have an X, so I need it to be able to video chat with that." No. Options. Because the four-year-old needs to be able to video chat with anyone. Now, sure, maybe they're just being proactive and they know they can't predict what phone they'll have in two years, six months, or fifteen minutes, but that's still shady.

Oh, but wait. Where's the bit about "how do I make sure this phone isn't lost, stolen, or used inapropriately?" Where's the usual questions about parental controls? Mmmm?

Right. Because this question is probably bunk. Or very, very ill-thought-out.

Re:Are you serious? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988981)

I know a number of children of divorce, and others whose parents are traveling overseas for work. I know one colleague who schedules a voice or video call with their child every day. The child's parents have agreed should have a phone in their school bag to "call mom or dad" in case they anything happens. It's a very limited, very cheap, used phone, so there are no complex games on it: the child is 8. The child also has a lot of allergies and a very strict diet, so the parents have had several heated arguments with the school about whether the child should have the phone at school, to call about school lunch changes or allergy concerns.

Your best bet is (0)

Meditato (1613545) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988869)

a rooted Android phone with some sort of toddler app mode or custom ROM.

No phone (2)

musterion (305824) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988871)

No hone is suitable for a 4 year old.

yeah no (5, Insightful)

puto (533470) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988873)

buy him a book, an erector set, lincoln logs. Do not get him hooked on the electronic teat at such a young age. My father was an engineer and even though he worked late hours, he still would take me to the ice cream shop at night and help me with my homework and have dad and son time. The time he spent was quality.

Re:yeah no (2)

LordLucless (582312) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989219)

Did you even read the summary, or did you just comment based on the title? The poster doesn't want a phone to keep his child occupied, he wants it so his kid can contact him if needed - he explicitly says he wants to be able to disable entertainment functionality.

Not sure if this is what you're looking for... (3, Informative)

rwven (663186) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988875) [] Looks like it's a device administrator app or something like that. Worth looking at...?

Direct store link: [] Looks like it's got pretty good reviews.

In other words: Maybe get a super cheap android phone and stick this on it...

Nothing too good for the fruit of my loins (5, Funny)

12WTF$ (979066) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988877)

64GB iPhone 5 with gold plating plus $10,000 iTunes credit.
Get that over-reaching sense of entitlement embedded early.

Re:Nothing too good for the fruit of my loins (1)

jaxxa (1580613) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988929)

Rather than the iTunes credit just link it directly to a credit card so you never have to refill it.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988881)

If you can't be with the kid, then find a way to be. It's not healthy for your kid to develop the idea that a Smartphone is how he "finds his daddy" and has "good fun with games, but only when he can". How messed up in the head is he going to be with this kind of reality you're bringing down upon his developing brain? Think, man, think!

Not sure if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988883)

Is this a joke?

Yikes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988891)

I'm really not sure it's such a great idea to get the kid hooked on the blinkenlights at age 4. You do realize these devices are literally like crack to them, right?

Re:Yikes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989051)

You do realize these devices are literally like crack to them, right?

You mean these 4 year olds are smoking cell phones? Wowzer.

Re:Yikes (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989161)

You do realize these devices are literally like crack to them, right?

You mean these 4 year olds are smoking cell phones? Wowzer.

Better smoking it than heating it up on a spoon and injecting that shit.

At four (5, Funny)

Master Moose (1243274) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988893)

The best phones are the plastic ones you buy at the local bric-a-brac store. Sometimes these phones even let you call Elmo who will say "Hello", sing a song and wait for you to call the next person

Re:At four (1)

Sylak (1611137) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988985)

I wish so hard i had mod points to mod you up for this.

Re:At four (5, Funny)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989049)

My daughter had one at that age. Every so often it rang, and Barbie talked to my daughter. Usually something along the lines of, "Let's go ... to a party ... today," or "Do you want to go ... to the beach ... this weekend?" So, basically, three part sentences, randomized. My daughter was just 3 or 4, and knew it wasn't really Barbie, but she would talk to her each time Barbie called.

One day, after the phone rang and Barbie and my daughter had a chat, my mother-in-law asked is a very confused and exasperated voice "Who keeps calling her?"

She actually thought it was a real phone. She was in her 80s at the time, so it wasn't very surprising. But it was hilarious. :^)

Bad idea. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988897)

A 4 year old can't seriously have cell phone. Besides, they will lose it almost immediately. Have them use the phone of the adult that is caring for them. Buy that person a phone, and tell them how it should be used.

Don't (5, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988899)

Dude, just don't. I understand you want to speak and see your son, but the reason 4yo don't have phones is because they are not ready for their use. Let the kid play with playmobil and later lego. Let him be a child and when he's ready for a mobile, he'll tell you by putting it on his christmas-list. I wish you wisdom with your decission and hopefully you'll find a beter way to keep in touch with your kid.

No need (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988901)

Don't let the phone be the kids parent.

Surgical Attach Him to Your Back (5, Funny)

cookYourDog (3030961) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988903)

Eventually your capillaries will merge and you will form one all-knowing toddler-adult hybrid. I, for one, bow down to you, Todd-lor.

Phone for a 4 year old (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988905)

Is this a joke?


Sesame Street Phone (1)

jennatalia (2684459) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988911)

They make great phones for toddlers. Get them one that says the numbers in Ernie's, Big Bird's and Cookie Monster's voice. It will teach them numbers, although, they should know numbers by age 4...

Perhaps a Smart Watch. (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988921)

If you aren't looking to make an immediate purchase, the Omate TrueSmart watch works out very well.
Still a few bugs to get sorted out with the current developer edition, but it is a phone with GPS and a few other niceties in a watch form factor making it difficult for a child of that age to lose.

Dude... (1)

doubletalk (3009215) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988925)

He's freaking 4 years old, he doesn't need a phone !

Re:Dude... (1)

doubletalk (3009215) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988949)

He needs parents, physical contacts, all the time !

Dont. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988927)

What is so important to you that you choose to leave your kid? Whatever it is, stop! These are the years during which your kid will confuse batteries with gear wheels! The years where he will think cars are magical things that make the world move around him, and where nothing quite makes sense, although it somewhat seems to him like he does. If you blast him with "daddy on a phone", and a "phone that plays games when you touch it", as well as other complicated concepts to infants, you will most likely damage his development and understanding of the world!

Re:Dont. (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | 1 year,23 days | (#44989017)

I would never give a phone to a four year old, but the idea that they don't understand it is ridiculous. My 2 year old knows exactly what a phone is for (my wife and I have identical dumb-phones), and she knows several uses to which an iPad can be put. I imagine that at 4 she will be rather competent at using both.

You should probably kill yourself and your child. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988933)

You should probably kill yourself and your child; just sayin.

Re:You should probably kill yourself and your chil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989057)

This is the obvious solution to the problem.

Are you crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988935)

Are you crazy? They should be under constant supervision and human interaction. Don't let them turn into zombies at that age.

Not unless your son is a Vulcan... (2, Interesting)

Dzimas (547818) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988941)

Speaking as the parent of a former 4-year-old, I don't think this is going to work the way you imagine. You're better off getting an adult to help your son initiate a Skype call on a computer or tablet. A preschooler simply doesn't have the cognitive ability to read and respond appropriately to error messages and prompts, nor will he have the attention span to carry the phone everywhere on the off chance that you'll call. And, once the call comes through, it will be hit and miss as to whether he would actually respond the way you hope (it's not unusual to see a child of that age say "Hi!" to a close relative over Skype and wander off - they don't mean to be offensive, it's just that it's hard for 4" screen to compete with whatever draws their attention in the real world). That said, I understand your desire to be in touch as much as possible and hope you can figure something out.

Re:Not unless your son is a Vulcan... (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989033)

[I]t's just that it's hard for 4" screen to compete with whatever draws their attention in the real world [...]

And here I thought you were arguing that a four-year-old's cognitive abilities were not as advanced as an adult's. Looks like you meant they weren't as degraded.

iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988943)

My step-son keeps in touch with his grandmother and cousins using his iPod Touch. It is the 5th gen version. It has great Facetime and Skype support. They are around $300 but you don't have to pay for a contract. He also has a cheap cellphone to call when football practice is over but a 4 yr old doesn't have that need.

Re:iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989199)

A WebOS phone would be much better.

Re:iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989245)

One word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988945)


No (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988947)

Not only would I recommend against doing this entirely, but there is no phone that can actually do what you're asking. Some phones can do parts of what you'd like, but are you really going to trust a smartphone to a 4 year old child who does not have the capacity to understand what the device in their hands is capable of? Here is a better idea -- give the person who is chaperoning your child the phone and have them schedule with you to allow your kid to chat with you when you're away. When they are in school, there is no reason to have a phone. The teachers and administrators of the school have phones if there are emergencies. Not to mention that some schools flat out disallow it or confiscate such items. Don't read this as completely negative, its just feedback based on what I've seen. I didn't have a personal phone until I was in college. I'm not suggesting that at all, but not at 4 years of age. Maybe double that is reasonable.

Fisher Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988951)

Seriously dude/dudette, if you give a 4 year old a mobile phone, you are part of the problem.

Don't be that guy!

  If you really want to get your kid a phone, get one by Fisher Price. The one with the googlie eyes is a classic.

Re:Fisher Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989187)

Don't blame the dad for everything! he's probably not even in the picture anymore!

You should've said "Don't be that girl!"

Wall-mounted device. (1)

jennatalia (2684459) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988953)

If you're really serious, get them a wall mounted device that can do basic video chat on your internal network. It can double for a simple game system as well and can play videos. Keeping it out of their hands will prevent damage (unless they like to throw objects).

There can be only one (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988955)

A Nokia phone is the only thing that will survive a 4 year old. Now teaching someone how to use a phone before they've even learned to read is another matter entirely, as is the issue of what kind of a parent would want a 4 year old to have a phone, since at that age the kid shouldn't be away from the parent for any length of time. It begs the question of how involved the person asking the question really is with this child, and their motivations for giving them a device whose express purpose is remote communication at a time where being remote, either physically or emotionally, is considered by most to be child abuse.

He'll lose it - guaranteed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988957)

First - get a used smartphone that isn't on a contract. Your kid *WILL* lose it at some point. If you're lucky, you'll find it in short order.

My daughter just turned 9, and as her birthday present, we (re)activated the hand-me-down iPhone 3G that she had been using as a "glorified iPod touch" for a few years. The "Find my iPhone" service was wonderful, although since the conversion to iCloud (from MobileMe,) Find my iPhone has stopped accepting iOS 4 devices (and the iPhone 3G can't be upgraded beyond iOS 4.) We're probably going to try to get her an iPhone 4 for Christmas used. (Her brother just went off to college, and he has an iPhone 4, so FaceTime is a big draw now.)

To my knowledge, though, there is no way to limit functionality to "exclude" certain things by time on iOS - only disable them completely, or lock it down completely to one specific app. (So you could lock it so that it is only in FaceTime.) But even that is limited, as it forces the iPhone to remain on the whole time - a definite battery drain.

I do not know if there are Android apps that call for what you are asking. But to be blunt, nobody designs a smartphone for 4 year olds.

iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988965)

Get an iPod Touch. It isn't a phone but does video conferencing with facetime. There are a lot of kids apps for it as well.

No (4, Informative)

Nidi62 (1525137) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988973)

If you need to get in touch with him, call his sitter or day care and ask if they will put him on the phone. No way in hell a 4 year old needs a phone.

Skip smart phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988987)

Go find yourself one of those old nokia phones. Preferably, get one with that still has an antenna. I guarantee he cant break it, you rarely need to charge it, and because it has an actual antenna you can get service even if he happened to be in Antarctica. Truly the best option if communication is your only goal.

Why all the hate? (0)

xtal (49134) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988993)

I've got friends who have 2 and 3 year olds that can use iPads. (in suitably armoured cases).

They play with other things, but they can quite proficiently use the tablet - and in at one case, could do so before they could talk.

In one case, the kid talks to her dad all the time on the iPad in FaceTime. That's because Dad has to travel to make money - and that's just a reality. Props to him for having kids. The world needs more smart people.

These kids will turn out fine. A phone isn't going to fuck up a kid.

My advice: Get your kit a tablet and put one of those armored goo-tolerant cases on it. If there's times when they shouldn't use it, explain it's not available. This seems very straightforward.

Classical kid-activities and technology are not mutually exclusive sets.

Re:Why all the hate? (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989111)

In one case, the kid talks to her dad all the time on the iPad in FaceTime. That's because Dad has to travel to make money - and that's just a reality. Props to him for having kids. The world needs more smart people.

These kids will turn out fine. A phone isn't going to fuck up a kid.

My advice: Get your kit a tablet and put one of those armored goo-tolerant cases on it. If there's times when they shouldn't use it, explain it's not available. This seems very straightforward.

The kid doesn't need their own phone or tablet for this. If they want to facetime/skype/call a parent out of town, they can ask their other parent/guardian for said device to contact the parent out of town. Just because they can use one doesn't mean they have to own one. 4 year old kids without tablets/phones will turn out fine. Not having a phone isn't going to fuck up a kid. We all did fine without them.

a 4-year old.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44988997)

A 4-year old shouldn't have a old were you when you got yours? just get the kid a Skype acc't. Or...actually spend some time with him. How did this even make Slashdot?

So this has to be troll bait (0)

penguinstorm (575341) | 1 year,23 days | (#44988999)

This is fake. It has to be fake. It it's not fake, the authorities should be visiting your house.

> because he's got other things to do, i

Really? His days are booked? All those board meetings are interfering with, you know, BEING A FOUR YEAR OLD.

No four year old should have their own mobile phone. Not one.

Re:So this has to be troll bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989071)

super troll bait, this has to be some kids from reddit messing with slashdot,

the real question of the night should be if the government shutdown will affect the technology sector

Technology applied at the wrong end (2)

hessian (467078) | 1 year,23 days | (#44989007)

You need technology to free up more of your time so you can spend it with him.

Perhaps automation can help?

Reason for mobile unclear... (2)

Derec01 (1668942) | 1 year,23 days | (#44989011)

I understand you want to keep in touch, but I'm at a loss for why this needs to be a mobile device, particularly one that a 4 (!) year old is likely to use, and that's not even approaching the problems with having a 4 year old use a multipurpose device like this.

Perhaps it would help to clarify why this has to be mobile? Why do you need to bug him at school? If he's at a home, why is Skype insufficient? Why is using a mobile device required? He will forget to charge it, lose it, and be unable to use for anything else if you lock it down.

The Only Suitable Phone For A 4 Year Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44989019)

Fisher Price [] . The classics endure.

Re:The Only Suitable Phone For A 4 Year Old (1)

madhi19 (1972884) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989261)

First thing that came to mind.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44989021)

This must be a joke, right? You are not seriously proposing to establish a dedicated video line to your four year old so you can chit-chat about how is his day in the kindergarten progressing? Leaving alone the absurdity of the idea of granting a toddler unsupervised access to a telecommunication device, have you even thought about how capable this spawn of yours is in properly maintaining and handling an electronics device? Things lake taking deliberate care not to drop it (or not to throw it at random people for fun), making sure it is charged and up to date, being capable of acknowledging the device operating state (network connection for example) or malfunctions like the ones the Li-Ion battery will experience after after being banged on the ground, chewed and then peed on. These are things that are not at all intuitive to a four year old.

One of these (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,23 days | (#44989027)

The new iPhone of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989041)

Enter your credit card details in advance so that he can buy "smurf-berries" or "gems" in an emergency.

Don't bother with insurance, it's a waste of money.

Turn yourself in at CPS NOW!!! (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989043)

Obviously you have a whole box of screws loose, and have no mental capacity to raise a child. Please contact your local Child Protective Services office immediately.

Useless parent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989081)

Seriously. No 4 year old needs his own phone. Do your fucking job.

Iphone 4 is free now (2)

SocietyoftheFist (316444) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989115)

I have a 4 year old that knows how to FaceTime, knows where to look at in contacts and knows who is who. You can lock the phone down. I'm assuming you are traveling or getting divorced and reserving judgment unlike most on here.

get a deal on fifty phones (1)

Todd Palin (1402501) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989119)

Shop around for a good deal on a lot of fifty phones. A four year old will lose them, drop them in the toilet, throw them away, throw them at the dog, and every other conceivable way to get rid of a phone because he's four years old and cannot comprehend the notion of external value. So, if you are hell bent on doing this, buy at least fifty phones so you won't spend all your time shopping for another phone. I assume you must be rich to even be asking this question in the first place.

Everyone is an expert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989121)

Ok, let me try, too:

First, there's something called Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), a measure of how much non-ionizing microwave radiation a phone emits (check the manual and current standards).

I've seen a few of these manuals state a phone shouldn't be used by a kid under 6.

That said, and to solve your problem, here's what I would/will do (I got a 3-year old myself):

a) get a tablet without a cell chip -- my understanding is that wi-fi is way less powerful (and dangerous);

b) or get a phone and use plane-mode to let your kid play previously downloaded games;

c) or combine a and b to get a hot-spot connection.

Good luck.

Re:Everyone is an expert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989151)

Just adding that, yes, they usally throw some tantrum now and them... I lost a tablet when my kid threw it on the floor.

Unsupervised is a big NO-NO!

don't (4, Insightful)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989125)

A 4 year old shouldnt have a phone, a 14 year old shouldn't have a phone. We really need as a society to get off the cell phone kick. Very few of the people who have a phone need one.

Nabi (1)

MagicM (85041) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989127)

If you read the comments on Facebook you will see it has it's share of problems, however:

The Nabi is an Android tablet aimed at kids including 4-year-olds. It has age-appropriate software and parental controls that let you lock it down and install Skype. All the child needs is a wi-fi connection and a parent to help set up and explain.

(Flame war tags: Facebook, Android, lock down, child, age-appropriate, parent, Skype)

Ignore the naysayers! Save your kid and do it! (2, Interesting)

inflamed (1156277) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989129)

I don't have a concrete recommendation on what to buy but want to offset the attacks you're getting with some encouragement. I am a well-adjusted father with a six year old daughter and an eight year old son. I spend lots of time with my kids every day, and don't ever feel like video chatting with them while we're not together, but have no issues with them having their own phones. I'm only 28 so I still remember what it was like to be four years old. I would have loved to have had such a device and wish I did have one at that age.

My first computer was an Apple ][e from a garage sale at the age of eight (circa 1993) and it took me very little time (maybe a year) to figure out how to dial up the local freenet on my 1200/300 baud (couldn't get a stable connection at 1.2 kbaud!) modem, register an account with a completely fabricated credit card number and fictitious identity (I recall I specified my address as 123 Pooskin Rd.), and enjoy several months of access to lynx and pine. Ah, the good old days...

Of course, when my parents found out, they freaked out and made me call up the freenet folks and apologize. I pretended to leave a message on their answering machine but (thanks to text files I'd read) I knew to put my finger on the "hang-up" switch while reciting my apology and explanation. The account worked for several more years (bless those techno-anarchists' hearts for recognizing a kid in need), but my dad went ahead and purchased PPP dial-up service shortly afterwards to prevent any more "incidents."

The moral of this story? If your kid needs mobile LTE internet, better give him a phone. Otherwise, he's going to get an early start on subversive behavior, perhaps stealing other people's phones.

Re:Ignore the naysayers! Save your kid and do it! (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989197)

The moral of this story? If your kid needs mobile LTE internet, better give him a phone

Why would a 4 year old ever "need" mobile LTE internet, especially to the point where they need their own device?

Fisher Price (3, Informative)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989137)

Fisher Price is the only maker of a phone you should give to a 4-year old.

Please go kill yourself. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989143)

Your 4 year old doesnt need a phone asshole.

Tablet or laptop, not a phone (3, Interesting)

subreality (157447) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989157)

If you mean you can't keep in touch because you're a business traveller or divorced or something, get a laptop with a webcam, or a tablet, and have him leave it at home. If you want video games, get a DS or something... It's better at games than the phone will ever be, and the times when he's not allowed to game are easily managed by not letting him have it (or open it, or whatever) during those times.

If you mean to keep in touch during the day... Please don't. At this stage in his development he needs to learn how to live without his parents a couple hours at a time.

The kind that takes 14 years to deliver. (1, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989163)

The kind that takes 14 years to deliver. You know, like when your kid is old enough to legally enter into a contract with a cell phone provider.

Check out Verizon Family Base (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989171)

It lets you put controls on the phone, so he cannot use the phone when he is at school or any specified hours. It is well supported on any android phone. You can see who he is talking with, texting (if he does :)) and when. You can also see how long he is playing a game. You can selectively allow
him to talk with only specified people and use specified apps.

Similar features can be found on Sprint network, with Sprint Mobile Controls.

iPhone option (1)

dissy (172727) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989181)

If you happen upon a used iPhone, such as a hand-me-down from someone that upgraded to the newest shiney, you likely can find a good deal on an older 3g or 4 model.

Then you can use the free enterprise/IT software iPhone configuration utility [] (Link is to the Windows version, but there is a Mac version as well)

This will let you create policies to push to the phone to limit resources and lock settings down.

You can give it a fixed set of contacts that can't be modified (for you and other close family),
limit facetime calls and data usage to avoid extra charges on your cellular bill,
lock the apple store to varying levels (including completely - highly recommended if you link it to your own itunes account!),
as well as enforce other app and setting limits.

The idea is normally an IT department would get in a batch of phones, link them all to the company itunes account, and push predefined settings and limitations. Then they are assigned to employees.
In this case, just think of it as crazy detailed parental control settings.
It also provides for IT department control during use, where it would be inconvenient to get your hands on the device. You can push apps to it if/when needed, to location finding and locking, etc.
You can even go all advanced and set it to keep a permanent VPN to an openvpn server you run, so you can reach the phone as long as it has some form of 3g or wifi connectivity.

Personally I couldn't really recommend purchasing a new iPhone for a 4 year old, but if your the one that ends up with the relatives old computing gear, free would be a good deal to take advantage of.

The only other functional equivalent setup for a smartphone that I'm aware of would be a Blackberry device... But unfortunately this needs way more always-on infrastructure on the back end to even make work, such as the blackberry information server, and something to link that to such as an exchange server. Not too many people have that already setup however.

I've not yet found any such equivalent software features for Android.
Assuming it does and it's something you can run without a full IT department of resources behind it, the phone itself might be a more attractive option to purchase new or used.

Lastly, if you are willing to drop the video conference call requirement - dumb phones would be a perfect fit for a child.
They have some pretty rugged models out there for very cheap, so losing $25 on the phone isn't as big of a deal if it gets lost, stolen, or broken.
Just be mindful of data connections (aka avoid that cell plan option if you can!)
Todays dumb phones seem to purposely go out of their way to rip people off in data charges.
Most phones these days have dedicated "mail" and "web" buttons that can not be disabled, will always charge the minimum 1 minute of data usage no matter how fast you exit the app by slamming the end button (something you may remember to do, but your child will not), and they seem to locate these always-on rip-off buttons right around the most common functions such as send/end/ok and the dpad.
IMHO a lot of models are also lacking in the parental control department, so do your research before buying a model.

Good luck!

An old phone, or better an old iPad (4, Informative)

bedroll (806612) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989183)

When my son was 4 I gave him my Droid Incredible, which was deactivated when I upgraded. He liked it, and would play angry birds sometimes. He also took pictures (the camera isn't great but it's better than pretty much any kid's camera available) and listened to music on it. It was pretty impressive the way he customized the device, too.

My friend gave his son, who is a little younger, an iPod Touch and an iPad around the same time. I know his son uses his devices more than mine.

Contrary to the bulk of these responses, both children were up to the task of having and caring for a modern touchscreen device. You'll want to slap on a good case, and you need to know you can trust your child with it, but they're fine.

As for the recommendation... Well, this is an area where Android is playing catch-up with iOS. iOS has lots of parental controls so you can lock down default apps and prevent installation of unauthorized apps. I don't think either OS is particularly easier to learn, but the ability to control some aspects of the OS might make this an easier sell to the child's other parent, or just easier to monitor for you. If you get an Android device, I suggest you get one that can use the user profile features in Android 4.3 (it was added in 4.2 but there's more control in 4.3.)

However, I'm not sure a phone is really necessary. In fact, I think a phone would be more likely to be dragged around when not needed and more easily lost. It's more likely to become a nuisance. Since your son won't be with you, you have to consider the people he will be with. You don't want the device to become a problem and be taken away.

I would suggest an older device, this way it's less of a loss if it's broken or lost. At this point, you could easily get an older iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. A first generation Nexus 7 isn't a bad choice either. I'd go with one of the tablets, personally. They're better for video chats.

WTF is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989195)

Any reason why you cannot make arrangements with said 4 year-old's guardian to have conversations with him/her? This is quite ridiculous.

Child's tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989221)

There are a number of child-hardened Android tablets (mostly against drops). They aren't cell phones, but if you have wifi available it might work for you with Hangouts or some other videochat app. You'd save the monthly fee and accidental 911 calls.

Nabi Jr is the one we have, for 1 and 2 year old. The toddler mode won't communicate, but parent mode does. I suspect the Nabi and other tablets with interfaces for older children have more capabilities even in the locked down mode.

An actual answer (3, Informative)

tom229 (1640685) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989227)

To answer your questiong in lieu of judging you, giving you parenting advice, and prying into your personal life (as everyone else seems to be doing) I would suggest this [] . LG Migo VX1000 is very robust, can dial 4 pre-programmed numbers, and also 911.

Smart phone and video chat is probably out of the question for a few years. At 4 years old I would be concerned he's too young to even handle a device like a Migo. Be prepared for lots of accidental calls to 911 :)

Best of luck with everything!

iOS works fine (5, Informative)

ff1324 (783953) | 1 year,22 days | (#44989239)

I'm a firefighter, my wife's a paramedic...we're away from our kids (not simultaneously) for 24 hours each shift.

Facetime is a wonderful thing for when one of them needs, well, a little facetime with whatever parent is at work. They get to chat with grandparents as well.

We bought a couple of refurbed iPod touches, put them in otterboxes, threw a few apps on them, and handed them over. They can facetime us as long as they have wifi (at our house, family, close friends), their texting is limited to iMessage and locked down to the existing contacts...this way they have an opportunity to learn proper etiquette and manners about the phone and texting and pictures.

They're 7 and 8, have had this for two years, and they're not little tech junkies. Also, I'm not paying an extra $40 per month per kid for connectivity that's only occasionally necessary.

The dumbest phone you can get (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989241)

I'd say a flipphone configured to only be able to call you, but the hinge will most likely be broken by a kid that age.
They don't need a "smart" phone at that age. (Though I could enter an argument in saying they don't need a smart phone at any age, but I would probably be shot down here)

An unbreakable phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989251)

They sell those for like $80 and you can throw them on the ground and they don't break. I'm not sure why your 4-year-old would need one since most 4-year-olds need parental supervision but I suppose "life" is all that's needed for explanation. Phones don't fry brains and they don't disrupt growth. However, TV/Games can cause ADD/ADHD if used a lot during the brain's development (prior 21), although it can be overcome through strict discipline. Just weed the fact from fiction and you should be fine.

Betteridge's law of headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44989263)


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