How to teach kids to appreciate their smartphones
This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
If you're a parent you're probably old enough to remember the times before smartphones and maybe at least occasionally think about how amazing the devices we keep in our pockets/purses are and what we're capable of doing thanks to them.
Kids, however, don't know about the struggle that we, as users, went through before we could enjoy big bright displays and high-speed internet in our palms. So, our plan is simple and straightforward: get them to experience the struggle themselves. But don't worry, it shouldn't take 20 years.
The evolution of mobile phones went through several eras, our goal is for you to take your kid through a few of them, hoping that would lead to both better understanding and better appreciation of modern technology.
If you want to follow our advice, you'll need some props first. Chances are, you already have at least some of them: old phones.
Now, there's no need to go back to the time cell phones were as big as bricks, here is our suggested lineup:
- A phone with buttons and monochrome display
- A phone with buttons, color display and terrible camera
- A phone with small touch screen, terrible camera and slow internet
- A smartphone a few years older than the final device, without 4G.
- The device you're planning your kid to use
Of course, this is just a rough suggestion and it depends on what phones you can get your hands on. If you're missing some, you can ask friends or family to give you one for a few weeks, or even get one from eBay or Craigslist if you're that devoted. You can add or remove as many steps, but we suggest having at least three transitions. It's not necessary that you have a good phone from each era, one that was annoying even when new will work just as well.
Obviously, the best choice for the first phone is the Nokia 3310. Popular for its toughness and snake game, it shows well how basic the first massively popular mobile phones were.
After that, there are many suitable options for each level. If possible, it would be cool for the child to experience different designs – flip-phone, slider, full qwerty physical keyboard etc. The infamous Sidekick would be a great one to use, as well as Motorola RAZR.
The idea is to have your kids use each phone for a couple of weeks/a month or for as long as you see fit, progressing to a better and better one just as we did throughout our lives. Maybe you can tie the upgrade to the next level to some achievement like good grades, finishing a book or getting rid of that wasps' nest, you know, the usual kids' stuff.
For this experiment to work, it's important to make sure that these devices are actually used during their designated period and not just tossed away after a day. You can create tasks for your kid to perform using the phone or stimulate them some other way to explore its "features". You can tell them stories related to each phone or how old you were when you were using it. Maybe seeing what phone you were using when you were a teenager will make them feel better about the device they have at age 7.
In case your kid already has a SIM card, you'll most likely need an adaptor kit to fit in the older devices that use regular-sized SIM cards. Even then some might not work on your network, but at the end of the day, phone calling and texting isn't really the point of this exercise.
If you've decided to follow our plan, let us know how it went and which models did you choose.