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If you believe your kid, everyone at school has an iPhone except for her, and it’s sooo embarrassing, Mom!! Sure, you’d love for her to be able to listen to her music, and there are some apps that are actually very helpful and educational. However, you’re not really ready for all the texting, tweeting and talking that comes with it – and you just cannot stomach spending upwards of $200 on something that could easily get lost, stolen or crushed at the bottom of a backpack.
Here are some other, less spendy options for the parents looking to dip their toe into the tween gadget market.
This handheld Android app gaming system lets kids app it up without any monthly charges or gaming cartidges, starting at $160. Hook it up to the wifi for internet or access to Google Play for games, movies, TV shows and e-books. Kids can also download a texting app. Parents can sign up for an e-mail usage report each week to monitor screen time (although there are no parental controls on web browsing). With no phone option, this is a good option for big kids and tweens.
This less expensive iPhone is basically 2012 technology wrapped up in a cool interchangeable candy-colored case, according to C-Net. For your kid’s purposes, the difference between an iPhone 5 and a 5C is negligible, except for the fact that the 5C starts at around $100. This is a good option for teens, who at this point might have a real need for a cell phone.
It’s like an iPhone without the phone part. But everything else your kids could want -- apps, camera, music -- is all there. Your child can even text or Facetime as long as they’re hooked up to the wireless (which makes it easy for you to control). The price tag, starting at $229, is more than a starter iPhone, but you won’t be springing for any service contracts, making it less pricey in the long run.
If you’re ready for an upgrade, your old iPhone will do nicely as a hand-me-down. To set it up for your child, you’ll need to reset it, and then add apps and set restrictions, like setting a secret passcode for iTunes purchases, so it’s basically an iTouch (Gigaom has two ways to do it). It’s up to you if you want to keep the calling plan.
One way to keep screen time controlled – for both you and your kids – is to just let them use your device with supervision for a particular window every day (maybe an hour after school). The con is that you have to do without your phone for a bit, but the upside is that it will force you to unplug a bit every day.
You didn’t have a pocket device to use wherever whenever growing up and you survived. Despite what your kid says, there are no rules that all kids must have the latest and greatest gadget, when Ye Olde Desktop Computer will let them do much of what they want to do online anyway.