At what age do you allow your children to own a cellphone? Does it depend on their physical age, or their maturity age? There isn’t a “how-to” parent’s guide to these things, and a lot of parents are left guessing and uncertain. Thankfully the creators at Pinwheel are looking to solve this issue. They’ve created a phone that looks, feels, and works like an average smartphone. The only twist? It is completely controlled and monitored by parents! Pinwheel is a trustworthy phone designed for children 6-14 years of age. The safe contact list allows children to talk to friends and family that their parents allow them to. No more “stranger danger” or unwanted spam calls! Parents can also set days/modes that allow children to learn what and when they need to do certain activities. The apps are selected and approved by parents, which means no more brainwashing games that suck children in for hours at a time! This smartphone is created to add value and learning to screen time, while also allowing children to have a bit of freedom.
There are currently Three different types of Pinwheel phones on the market. This includes the Pinwheel Slim, the Pinwheel Rugged, and the Pinwheel Verizon. The Pinwheel Slim is a slim model for careful kids who have earned your trust in taking care of physical objects, and aren’t likely to step on, throw, or drown it. This phone is not compatible with Verizon Wireless or Sprint cellular networks, but is compatible with compatible with most other GSM carriers. The Pinwheel Rugged (my personal favorite) is a tough, waterproof model for kids who are rougher on stuff. This is for kids who may be still at the beginning stages of learning to care for a device, and may need the grace of the extra toughness when their adventures get rowdy. The Pinwheel Verizon is a grown up looking model for careful kids, but is only compatible with Verizon Wireless. It is not compatible with Sprint or GSM networks.
Once you decide which phone you need to order for your child and your phone is delivered, parents can use the Pinwheel Caregiver App to customize every single thing about the phone. To start, parents can set “Days & Modes” which is how the phone knows what apps a child can play and when they are allowed to play them. For example, my daughter is on “Good Morning” mode from 7:00am to 9:00am. In this time frame she has access to all of her apps, but can only call certain family members. From 9:00am to 9:00pm she is in “Summer Mode” which allows her to use all apps and call anyone on her contact list. From 9:00pm to 10:00pm she is in “Good Night Mode” which gives her access to her night time songs app but she isn’t allowed to call anyone except her parents. After 10:00pm, the phone goes into “Nothing Mode” which basically means she can’t do anything besides call her emergency contacts.
The next thing parents can do, is customize their child’s Routines. Each Mode (as outlined above), must be accompanied by a routine. These routines will be shown to your child on their home screen and come across as “tasks” that they must complete during specific times. For example, During “Good Morning” mode, I created a “Good Morning” Routine to accompany it. This routine includes chores like brushing teeth, eating breakfast, and taking vitamins. There is also a “Anytime Routine” that reminds her to clean up after herself, and a “Good Night” routine which reminds my daughter to do her nightly care such as brushing her teeth and reading a bedtime story.
Parents are also completely in control of which Apps kids download to their phone. Pinwheel has an ever-growing collection of parent approved apps in which parents can allow or revoke access. This means children can never download an app without their parent’s permission and there are never any accidental in-app purchases. All apps in the App Boutique are individually tested and approved by Pinwheel creators. Parents can request that an app be added to the boutique, but is not a guarantee that it will be approved. Pinwheel’s mission is to create healthy phone habits, so don’t expect any Snapchat or Candy Crush to make the cut.
Last, but definitely not least, is Parent’s access to phone history. On the caregiver app, parents are able to view every text message and phone call made on the Pinwheel phone. Parents can add or deny pending contacts, block callers, and keep track of conversations. This feature is perfect for parents to ensure that their children are making smart phone choices. Once they prove that they can make smart phone choices, this portion of the app doesn’t need to be checked nearly as often in my opinion.
Pinwheel is a great option for parents who are ready to introduce their children to the responsibility of having a phone, without the dangers of owning a smartphone. My daughter absolutely loves hers, and as a mother I absolutely love her having it.