This post is sponsored by React Mobile. I have been compensated for this post, and all words, perspectives and opinions are my own.
The big question in my circle is: when should a child have a cellphone?
And surprise, there’s no one answer to this question. Were you looking for one? This is parenting, people. If you are looking for clear answers to parenting questions then you should not be a parent. The answers are as diverse as there are children in the world.
Some of my kids’ friends have had cellphones since they were 8 or 9 years old. My kids at 8 and 9 were inherently careless with their stuff, and I knew that they weren’t ready for a mobile device that needs to be handled with care, updated, charged regularly and placed properly in its holding place until the next usage. Their electronics at this age were handheld video game systems and iPods that never left the house.
One reason for giving young kids cellphones is for parents to keep track of them when they are away from home. Now, look: my kids are usually at home. When they're not, they are at school, at a school-sponsored activity, or with a trusted adult. Even today they're not out of our sight for long, and we know where they are headed if they are out alone. On rare occasions we hand them one of our cellphones and tell them to call when they get where they are going, and call again when they are on their way back.
As kids grow, the instances of their independence correlate with their maturity and ability to take better care of possessions. My celebration as a parent who raised youngsters to take care of electronic devices for more than a month without breaking or misplacing them was short-lived when I realized that they are spending more and more time without my protection. They can wait for me to pick them up. They can call me when they’re finished. They can get rides with friends' parents.
They can wander the earth alone.
And this makes me, as a mom, a little nervous. Because I know what’s out there, and it’s not always friendly.
My son is getting a smartphone this year. When he does, I will be relieved that I will have a way to contact him reliably. No more will he have to rely on a friend’s cellphone; he’ll always know what time it is so he can check in, and we will be able to let him know if we will be late or if plans change. He’ll be safer with a cellphone when he’s out and about. I know, I know – welcome to the 21st century.
But there is an added measure of protection that I’m going to share with you.
We will be sure to download the React Mobile app onto his phone, which is a fantastic new tool that can be used to keep track of your kids using their smartphone. Much more than a “find me” app, React Mobile is a safety feature that a smartphone user can activate if they are alone in a place where they don’t feel totally comfortable.
You enter in your contacts, turn on the Follow Me option, and your contacts are alerted if you need them. Or if you want them to know where you are. Or if a mom wants to know where her son is.
Parents can use the app to track their child's position in real time as they move from place to place. Say my son is going to the high school football game, then getting a ride from a friend’s mom to the local pizza shop for a post-game hangout. He can send me a text through the app to let me know where he's going, and after he activates the Follow Me option, the app shows me in real time (using Google map info and his phone's GPS) that he is where he says he is, and when he taps the "I'm Safe" button, I know that he is okay.
The React Mobile app can also be activated (Send SOS) if he finds himself in a dangerous situation. He can use the app to alert me and any of his emergency contacts (including an automatic option to call 911) that he needs immediate assistance. The app will provide all his emergency contacts with the alert and his location, which is vital information for the authorities, not to mention any worried parent.
The React Mobile app is a tracking device, a lifeline, and an alert system all in one, and the best part is that it’s free. Okay, that's not the best part. The best part is that it gives me peace of mind when my child goes off into the world by himself. But it’s still pretty great.
And it’s the first thing that is going on his new smartphone. I think we’re both ready for it.
Download the React Mobile app for free:
Google Play (available on select smartphones):
For overview video:
For demo video: