Gadgets don’t tend to cause a lot of controversy. Their uses and applications may be called into question sometimes, but an actually device is usually free from any condemnation or disapproval. However you get the feeling that a mobile phone aimed at four-to-nine-year-olds would cause quite a stir…and it has.
Called the 1stFone, this back to basics cellular device is designed to connect a child with their parents or guardian in times of despair. It’s compact, screen-free design features no text or Internet capabilities but can store up to twelve contacts for every eventuality.
“In a world dominated by smart phones, parents face a difficult choice when it comes to finding a first phone for their child,” said Tom Sunderland, founder of 1stFone creator OwnFone. “We wanted to design a fun product that appeals to children but puts parents in complete control and minimises usage while still providing a vital connection between parent and child.”
According to the company, 1stFone aims to reduce the risks of text bullying or being exposed to harmful material online. It will also provide children with a vital contact to loved ones while playing outside, walking to school or at a friend’s house.
In terms of the actual device, it is actually quite a clever and well thought out design, obviously created for ease-of-use. 1stFone is also delivered pre-programmed with a parent’s desired names and numbers ready to go straight out of the box.
Needless to say, 1stFone has sparked anger and fury among parent groups and campaigners. Critics believe that OwnFone is simply trying to commercialise children and make money out of paranoid parents. Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums.com commented: “Marketing mobiles to pre-school children is wrong. No four-year-old needs their own phone as they should never be left alone or in a situation where they need to ring an adult.”
It’s somewhat difficult to take a definite stance on the subject. One certainly hopes that OwnFone’s main intention is to protect children from harm and provide essential assistance in a difficult situation rather than benefit from the commercial potential of worried parents. Regardless of personal opinion, it seems like even the youngest of children will be exposed to technology sooner rather than later.