I’ve known this dilemma would be coming for quite some time now. When should I get my daughter a cell phone? Should I get my daughter a cell phone? How am I going to afford yet another cell phone already paying Verizon Wireless more than $100/monthly for two smartphones (Motorola Droid 3). Not forgetting that there are two other girls waiting in the wings that will be wanting their own cell phones in the next few years as well.
What to do?
With my daughter entering middle school I thought she was old enough and responsible enough to have a cell phone. Obviously being the daughter of an Information Technology professional (me) she wanted a smartphone with all the bells and whistles having seen and used mom’s and dad’s Motorola Droid 3 quite often.
Thankfully I still had my old original Motorola Droid that I had purchased when I moved from AT&T Wireless (formerly Cingular Wireless) to Verizon Wireless back in December of 2009. I rooted the smartphone and decided to install Peter Alfonso’s Bugless Beast GPA19 custom ROM which is based on Gingerbread. It’s supposedly a very stable release and has quite a few upgrades over the stock Verizon ROM.
Which cell carrier to use?
Now that I had a phone I had to figure out which carrier to use. Since I already had a phone I had to stick with carriers that support CDMA as opposed to GSM. As I previously alluded to I already had a Verizon Wireless Family Plan for my wife and myself but Verizon won’t allow you to add a smartphone to any plan unless you purchase a data plan. I could change my grandfathered unlimited data plan to a Share Everything plan but the current data caps are really harsh for power users such as myself and my wife (Facebook). What other options did I have, what about the prepaid carriers?
I literally stumbled across Page Plus Cellular while doing some research. Page Plus Cellular actually utilizes Verizon Wireless’s cellular network so I immediately knew that my Motorola Droid would work without any issues. And that the signal coverage was excellent – in my area. While doing some background research on Page Plus I stumbled across Kitty Wireless, an authorized reseller for Page Plus Cellular. I posted a query to Twitter and received the following response;
Well I took them up on their offer… I activated my old Motorola Droid online via Kitty Wireless, I purchased a $10 PIN and I was off and running. The whole process took less than 30 minutes although there were quite a few things that needed to be accomplished as a first time customer of Kitty Wireless. I had no issues following the instructions (there’s a brilliant idea) and was up and running in no time.
Parental Controls / Monitoring
Now the question that almost every parent struggles with… should I and how can I effectively monitor my child’s cell phone (and Internet) activity? This topic really deserves a post by itself but I’m not sure that I have anything earth breaking to offer on the subject. I will probably do something for at least for the first few years especially since I have daughters. I see that “My Mobile Watchdog” seems quite popular so I’ll probably try that out first – can’t seem to find out how it’s monitoring (reporting) will work when the smartphone has data disabled and will need to rely only on WiFi for Internet access.
I came across this advertising image from IG Parental Control which is a definite attention getter.
I think every parent will need to decide for themselves what do-to and how far to take it. I think we’d all like to believe that our children are saints but there are definitely some that need a stronger hand than others to help them stay on course. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of apps out there that claim to provide filtering and monitoring.
Anyone have any recommendations?
Google Family Safety Center
Microsoft Family Internet Safety