Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A child with a smartphone

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Should a 4-year-old child own a smartphone?

The debate over how much technology to expose children to was reignited once again Sunday night after a user on technology site Slashdot asked for advice on what kind of a smartphone he should buy for his 4-year-old son.

The question sparked an avalanche of responses, many of them scandalized at the thought of a child so young owning a mobile device.

Story continues below advertisement

"I understand you want to speak and see your son, but the reason a 4yo don't have phones is because they are not ready for their use," wrote one user. "Let the kid play with playmobile 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."

User Penguinstorm echoed the outrage, writing, "Really? His days are booked? All those board meetings are interfering with, you know, BEING A FOUR YEAR OLD."

And recently, a rant by comedian Louis C.K. on the "evils" of cellphones and why he won't allow his daughter to own one, went viral on social media.

But others who joined the Slashdot debate offered their support for the father, taking note of his claim that he's not able to see his child as much as he'd like to, and needs a way to keep in touch with him directly.

Many offered tech tips, recommending apps and phones that allow for parental controls, so that if the father does decide to get his child a cellphone, at least the child can use it safely.

Kid-friendly cellphones

Basic, kid-friendly cellphones have been on the market for years, though not all Canadian wireless providers carry them. Devices like the Firefly glowphone (available in the U.S.) offer parents the ability to restrict calls to a list of 48 mom- and dad-approved phone numbers, as well as limits on how many calls and texts can be made.

Story continues below advertisement

For parents adamant about getting their kids a smartphone, apps like Kytephone (which is free to download, but costs $5 per month for the service) can be installed on most devices to manage what kids can access, and when. Kytephone, which is aimed at teens, allows parents to block calls and texts from strangers, and to filter out inappropriate (violent, pornographic) content. Parents are able to access their kids' phone record remotely, seeing in real-time who their kids are communicating with, how much time they're spending on specific games, and what photos they're taking and sending.

Another option is a tablet like the Nabi Jr., designed for young children, which parents can load Skype or other face-to-face communication apps onto. These tablets are marketed as educational tools, with learning-based apps and a list of parent-approved programs to choose from.

Or, instead of buying the child his or her own cellphone, many users on Slashdot suggested that the father simply schedule video calls with the child using Skype or Facetime on another adult's device.

Others noted that iPads and iPhones offer a number of parental controls, including restricting who the child is allowed to call or text. Wireless providers such as Rogers, meanwhile, also have services that allow parents to restrict when children make calls and to whom.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies