Give Your Kid Your Old Mobile Phone As A Toy... But Make Sure They Don't Call 911

from the holiday-suggestions dept

It's the time of the year for gift giving suggestions, and while we don't do a gift guide, it did catch our eye that an education professor is suggesting that you can give your old, obsolete mobile phones to toddlers as holiday presents. Not only does it keep the phone out of a landfill somewhere, it introduces kids to the basics of the technology. A couple I know even insists that their toddler's favorite toy is his father's mobile phone, because of all the flashing lights and beeps it makes. However, the real reason the story got our attention was that just a few hours before, we had seen a different article about how a little kid playing with a deactivated mobile phone kept calling 911 baffling police and wasting resources for hours as they tried to track down the caller to make sure nothing was wrong. Carriers are required to provide 911 service on phones, even if they have no official phone service. So, if you must give toddlers old phones, perhaps figure out someway to block them from calling 911 first.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    David, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 8:47am

    Blocking 911?

    I'm British, so I might be wrong, but wouldn't it be an offence to block the 911 service, for whatever reason?

    Or am I simply misunderstanding US law?

     

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  2.  
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    Jo Mamma, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 8:50am

    No way to block it that I know of

    I don't think there is a way to block 911 access.

    In fact, my Samsung will actually dial 911 when it's locked! So if it's in my pocket, locked, and the combination 911 is hit, and send is pressed, I get a dispatcher on the line!

    This wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that not only does '911' dial the cops, but other obscure combinations as well, including 08, 112, and about three or four others.

    When I asked the pimply faced 19 year old about this at the phone shop, he said "by law, they had to provide 911 access, even if it's locked. Somehow I doubt that, but it might be true, I suppose. I think it was just an easy way to blow me off.

     

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  3.  
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    Pangolin, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:07am

    True for some phones

    The Motorola V325 I have can have he keypad locked - but 911 (holding 9 down) still functions. Even with every lock in place we (or the baby) have made multiple 911 calls. Now she's not allowed to have the phone.

    Another phone - Kyocera Kx1v can be locked so 911 doesn't work. So I think it varies by phone.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:23am

    if you keep to a basic, candy bar style, nokia you can deactivate it. you can even program in the emergency numbers.

     

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  5.  
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    Dan, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:24am

    Locked

    There is a simple way to lock a phone so it can't call 911, just remove the battery. Alternately, leave it on for a while and don't recharge it. I was just as happy with my "phone" when I was younger, it didn't make noise, but we had imagination back in the day.

     

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  6.  
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    Random Guy, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:24am

    Smart thing to do...

    I gave my old Toshiba VM4050 to my 4-year old to play with, and to prevent calls I just disabled the radio with by using the "airplane mode." Good tip to share!

     

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  7.  
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    Jamie, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:28am

    Re: Blocking 911?

    As long as the physical phone belongs to you, you can do whatever you want to it. Including blocking 911 calls on it.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:32am

    Giving old mobile phones to small children seems like a great idea! After all these phones are so well constructed, and void of small objects they will certainly stand up to being banged on the table or floor!

    Other great gift ideas for your toddler...

    Rusty scissors
    Your old refrigerator - he can make a fort!
    and last but CERTAINLY not least...
    used condom baloons!

     

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  9.  
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    Kevin F., Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:32am

    Just a thought...

    Most cell phones these days have a mode you can switch to where the radio antenna is off. In this way, it acts like a real phone except you can't actually dial out...

     

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  10.  
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    Otiom, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:33am

    obscure combinations like 08, 112

    Think global !
    There is not only the US that have cell phones -believe it or not. Germany has 112....
    They have different numbers and don't use a obscure number like 911.

     

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  11.  
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    Jaidev Bhola, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:35am

    I don't think that's a good idea

    I don't think giving an infant a old cellphone that is enabled is a good idea at all. The cellphones still emit radiation which could be potentially harmful to the kids. Their skulls are thin and not fully developed and as a result they'll be more suseptible to the harmful effects of the microwave radiation.

    As adults, we are a bit more resistent give our thick skulls.

     

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  12.  
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    smithers, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:38am

    Why not just give them them the dead phone as a toy and don't charge the battery. It's a friggin toddler. They are just going to use it to make "pretend" phone calls anyway.
    Are you planning on getting it a long-distance plan too and just hope he doesn't dial China?
    If you want the kid to learn about technology, do you think giving it a phone with contacts and memos and all those "complicated" menus is really going to teach the kid anything. it'll just be impressed by the lights and beeping noises.
    I mean c'mon people!!!

     

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  13.  
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    smithers, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:38am

    Why not just give them them the dead phone as a toy and don't charge the battery. It's a friggin toddler. They are just going to use it to make "pretend" phone calls anyway.
    Are you planning on getting it a long-distance plan too and just hope he doesn't dial China?
    If you want the kid to learn about technology, do you think giving it a phone with contacts and memos and all those "complicated" menus is really going to teach the kid anything. it'll just be impressed by the lights and beeping noises.
    I mean c'mon people!!!

     

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  14.  
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    TX CHL Instructor, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:40am

    911 service

    It almost doesn't really matter whether 911 can be dialed from a cellphone -- at least, not here in the Dallas area.

    Last time I called 911 on my cellphone (to report a fire), it took 22 rings before the 911 dispatcher answered -- more than a minute. The time before that (to report an accident with injuries), it 'only' took 15 rings. I'm glad that *I* wasn't in any personal danger either time!

    BTW, that's one reason I carry a gun. 911 simply is not reliable, nor is it fast enough in a real emergency.
    --
    chl-TX.com

     

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  15.  
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    Jeff, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:45am

    Instead of wasting your old phone on a toddler, why not donate it to your local womens shelter? They, in turn, give them to abused women (who can't afford a phone of their own) so they can dial 911 the next time they're threatened or attacked. I believe some police departments collect them for this reason also.

     

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  16.  
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    Kevin F., Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:45am

    Again...

    For people suggesting the removal of the battery, if the goal is to let them be entertained by sounds and lights and whatnot, that obviously wouldn't work. And for those talking about all of the various other codes beyond just 9-1-1 that might be called, the turning off of the antenna would address that issue.

    The real question is... why worry about all of this for a toddler? They have toys that mimick cell phones, anyhow. If you want to save the landfill from the extra trash, fine, but donate the phone to one of the many foundations out there who provide them to battered women or whatever.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike F, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:52am

    Ummmmm...

    If you want your toddler to play with a phone umm BUY THEM A TOY PHONE. Come on!!!

    Not to mention who thinks its a good plan to give a toddler something to play with that they can easily remove the battery. its not like they are screwed in like most infant toys.

    Hey JoJo wanna play with a battery....

     

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  18.  
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    Dosquatch, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:58am

    Display models

    An alternative: The cell phone manufacturers build gutted display models, some of which still beep and boink and blink lights, but with no radio or functional circuitry. These often show up on eBay.

     

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  19.  
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    Dan G, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:08am

    what are we doing

    What happened to normal toys, the young ones has their whole life to develop a interest in technology and other stuff why can't ppl just leave them be let them be kids and let their mind develop.

    besides i think those who would carelessly and unloving of their child to think give the little ones a cell phone would shut them up for a good hr or two, should really look at yourselves and see what you are doing to your child

     

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  20.  
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    Anon, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:22am

    Re: 911 service

    And a solution emerges! Instead of giving them the phone as a tou, give your toddler your old guns to play with!

     

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  21.  
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    Peet McKimmie, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:31am

    Instead of removing the battery, pop off the back and remove the antenna... Oh, wait, though - without an antenna the 'phone would always run in "maximum power" mode, emitting nasty radiation at short distances and flattening the battery in minutes. As you were.

    Here's a radical idea - why not teach your toddler not to be reliant on a cell phone? Lets not bring up another generation constantly shouting on the train. :-)

     

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  22.  
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    James Bond, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:33am

    Cell Phones

    Just toss the old phone away and get the kid a toy gun to get used to and play with,can do more with that anyway as they get older and then get a real one for them .Calling 911 for help from an attacker is not as effective as shooting him to stop him for good when a head banger or gheto rat is after you.Kids learn gun and shooting games young these days on the computer or xbox so they are prepared for a real one with minimal training.If you have a cell phone it calls the swat team after a certain amount of time of connect/disconne to come see you also.For those who say guns are bad and kill people look at all the people who kill folks every day with their phones making useless stupid nonsese calls in their cars and most kids that have a phone or looks like a locust hanging off their ear are doing the same or making drug deals and why train them for that lifestyle

     

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  23.  
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    spoon?!?!, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:39am

    Re: what are we doing

    First, mental development isn't one dimensional. Second, sure they have their whole life to like technology, but they only have their childhood to soak up the absolute batholith of technology information that exists today before they lose the ability to soak up knowledge like water, and wind up like me, wishing we'd been introduced earlier so I wouldn't have to work in a goddamn factory because I can barely get Windows to behave. Third, giving a toddler a toy doesn't equate to placating them and getting them out of the way. You could give them a stick and they'd be just as happy and fascinated, and last I checked happy, fascinated kids are a lot more healthy than deprived kids coming from Spartan parents. Finally, learn English, you intolerable, useless Luddite!!!

    Sorry to take the flamebait, but... just... GAAAAAHHHHH!!! What part of the brain does one poke with a cotton swab to make ^ that!?!?!?

     

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  24.  
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    sceptic, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:44am

    Re: I don't think that's a good idea

    I see a case of a thick skull already...

     

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  25.  
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    Larry the Arab, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    I am as technologically plugged-in as the next nerd, but I have NEVER been able to figure out the fixation people have with cell phones. I live in Europe and people over here behave as if cell phones are linked to critical bodily functions like breathing. Some of the soap operas over here spend over 50% of the time showing characters talking to each other via cell phone.

    What is the deal?!?!

    The absolute LAST thing the world needs is a way to make toddlers more familiar with the technology; lack of such 'infant exposure' doesn't seem to have been a hindrence as most kids (and adults) seem willing to have the cell phone surgically implanted if the option existed.

    Dudes, it's just a PHONE!!!

     

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  26.  
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    Anon, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:52am

    Re: Cell Phones

    Hey James Bond, or should I call you double O run-on, try using some punctuation?

    "...they are prepared for a real one with minimal training" Seriously? You want to give a kid a gun with minimal training, just assuming all those hours logged on the gaming console will prove to be sufficient training for carrying around a loaded gun?

    Oh by the way, original post had absolutely nothing to do with the effectiveness of the 911 emergency system.

     

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  27.  
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    spoon?!?!, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 10:52am

    to take more flamebait

    And @21, it's not having a cell phone that makes one dependent on cell phones, it's a social life and its augmentation by a constant link - people who have few social or business relationships have little use for cell phones, and aren't dependent on them. I doubt you could get a toddler to get hooked on a cell phone if you tried, anyway! As for you Bond, go join your backwater fundamentalist friend @19, there are those of us who can do simple multitasking without killing everyone around us.

     

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  28.  
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    D, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 12:27pm

    easy way

    If you have a cell phone with a sim card, just remove it and the phone won't be able to connect to a network to dial 911 or any other number.

     

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  29.  
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    AMP, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 12:54pm

    ferchristsake

    Just giver your kid some freakin' Lincoln Logs and forget about it.....wait, do they still make those?

     

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  30.  
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    Jim Zandi, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 1:45pm

    I gave one to my kids a couple of years ago, but I carved-out the "send" key with a knife first. I didn't really think about the radiation, but if you can't send, does it still emit? After the battery ran out, I removed it and they still had a blast with it. Oh, and I pulled and destroyed the SIMM card too.

     

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  31.  
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    isabel, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 2:14pm

    if you don't have kids, you don't know what you're

    kids love to mimic adults. you can give them a cell phone that is not charged and they love to pretend to talk on it. but they'll mimic you talking on the phone without being given a phone. so it's not like you're 'teaching' them to be rude, loud, phone talkers or anything about using a phone.
    and i highly doubt the idea was to give the toddler a cell phone and a live account attached to it. i gave my kid my old phone. who cares, get over it.

     

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  32.  
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    victor, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 3:48pm

    Removing SIM Cards

    Removing the SIM card is out of the question.
    Phones are designed to accept emergency numbers even if locked, or if there's no signal from your carrier.
    Even when there's no SIM card, the phone will simply look for any active network within its range and connect to emergency services through that network.

     

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  33.  
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    DV Henkel-Wallace, Nov 23rd, 2006 @ 4:47pm

    toy phone

    I found a pocket calculator made a perfectly good toy phone that is still sufficient for an 8-year-old. Plus he gets to use it on the plane.

     

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  34.  
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    Ryan, Nov 27th, 2006 @ 11:53am

    Re: 911 service

    Yeah, the entire Dallas emergency response system is incredibly flawed.

     

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  35.  
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    Brett, Nov 29th, 2006 @ 8:50am

    Re: Locked

    I agree with Dan. I should think removing (and recycling) the battery should be the safest, most effective way of disabling it. It might also be wise -- if one is concerned about such things -- to erase/remove the memory so that the previous owner's personal/private information is not compromised, should the child lose or get rid of the phone.

     

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  36.  
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    C Fryer, Jan 29th, 2007 @ 2:04am

    DO NOT DO THIS

    DO NOT DO THIS!

    MY OLD PHONE SAR RATING INCREASED BY 600% FROM OCCASIONAL DROPPING ETC..... DO YOU WANT TO FRY YOUR KIDS BRAINS!!!

     

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  37.  
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    C Fryer, Jan 29th, 2007 @ 2:53am

    Re: DO NOT DO THIS

    I must add, that my findings are not within scientific control and are just a quick test with a microwave meter. But worth bearing in mind.

    Best play it safe!

     

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  38.  
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    Kavin, Sep 6th, 2008 @ 8:28pm

    to be strong

    hi my name is kavin i like to be a firefighter when i grow up and i want 10000belling dolers in are bank a cont and i want to grow up and be strong and eat good food but i dont and i want to i am praind to god becase i have a sezre and i am on gouten free i cant eat the thigse that have gloten on it i am on dalaenten medacashen and i love my self to strong but i am not. from one girl kavin

     

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  39.  
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    Nicole, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 5:13pm

    Re:

    I feel the same way! Old cell phones are not a toy. They are to be bagged up and recycled properly so the toxic chemicals and metals used in their construction can be properly disassembled and reused in newer technology.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    wow you people are nuts.

     

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  41.  
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    debdtexas, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Kids cell phone

    I agree with most of what you all are saying except the reason I was searching for something for my granddaughter is that she is so used to using her parents Iphone but not to call people. She can play multiple games & also uses the camera. She has no care about making the calls, she doesn't even like talking on the phone. It's all about the games (which are all learning games)& taking pictures.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2013 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Just a thought...

    Nope, dialing 911 will automatically disable airplane mode!

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2013 @ 11:43am

    Re:

    your an idiot

     

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  44.  
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    Virdict, Mar 10th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    Response to: smithers on Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:38am

    Not true at all. My 3 year old brother in law can search YouTube for what he wants, call who he wants to talk to, take pictures and edit them with the camera app, and many other things all because we've given him the iPod to play with, he can use Samsung galaxy as well. Based on what I've seen, to not give your child a smart phone or tablet is to horrible handicap them. You'd be a bad parent...

     

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  45.  
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    jan, Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    deactivate 911

    Wow. I got on here cuz my daycare called 911 over 100 times today. No they dont usually radiate their brains you paranoid freaks. They listen to ringtones, play frogger, and take tons of pictures. Obviouusly i typed in paranoid lecture cuz thats all i see. No real help at all from all you know it alls.

     

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  46.  
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    s.S.Reckers, Jul 5th, 2013 @ 11:29pm

    Old Cell phones

    Removing the battery certainly willkeep any 911 calls from actually being placed, but it also takes away the ability for the child to take actual pictures. Is there any way to reatin the picture taking ability and yet not flood 911 with unnecessary calls?

     

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  47.  
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    geraldine, Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 3:50pm

    children playing with cell phones

    I heard cell phones have lots of radiation

     

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  48.  
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    Anyonmus, Mar 29th, 2014 @ 4:45pm

    WTF

    I gave my 14 month old neice my old mobile with NO SIM so know calls could be made. I hooked it up to the wifi and downloaded a load of fisher price apps for her. I then downloaded and app called kids place which means she can only acces apps that I say she can. She can't lock it, open the notifications tab, change the volume or go home she can just play her own apps that she enjoys and decide which ones she wants to play with so I don't have to fiddle with it making sure she dosent call anyone or anything.

     

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