Question of the Day from a Divorced Mother of Young Children with Shared Custody:

“Is there a preferred phone, app, or texting application that you have given your young child so that they can reach out via call or text to the “off duty” parent when away? My daughter is 6 and while she isn’t old enough to have a phone yet, I do want her to have a way to reach out to me if she needs to without having to use her dad’s phone.”

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This question was asked in my private “Life-Saving Divorce” group on Facebook. Here are answers from real parents who have found a solution. (Their answers have been anonymized for their privacy.)

 

10 Ways To Stay In Touch With Your Children When They Are With The Other Parent

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1) Gabb wireless watch or phone

 

—"I got my daughter a Gabb watch. She can text and call me on it and it has GPS.”

—" I also went with Gabb. (If you want a discount, you can use a code from a current customer and you both get credit.)"

—"The benefit of using Gabb is that there is no internet available on the device at all. This means there is no browser and no social media apps. The phone only has the ability to talk and text.” —Online review

—"Gabb wireless phone. All they can do is text or make phone calls. No apps. Can’t text pictures or group text.”

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2) Gizmo watch phone

—"Gizmo watch phone. I already had a Verizon plan, and I think it was around $5/mo. to add this, if not you can set up a plan just for that for about $20/mo. I don’t think that Gizmo watches provide continuous location, but you can set it to check the location or you can set it to send you location updates at scheduled times.”

—"It has GPS tracking."

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3) Alexa

—“I just let my kids use Alexa (or Echo).” Alexa can call other compatible Alexa’s or Echos or Echo Dots or smartphones. You need an Amazon account and a mobile number and the most recent version of the Alexa app. You also need to sign up for the Alexa Calling service. More steps here.  Once set up, your kids can say, “Call mom at home.” Or “Call Mom’s mobile.”  Or “Call mom at work.”

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4) Messenger Kids from Facebook

—"Your kids have a sub-account under your Facebook account that you control. You can set them up to talk to both adults and even their friends (you can control which friends). They can text or video chat. My kids have a tablet that they can use to access it.”

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—“How is the Wi-Fi in places they go? If pretty good, just use Messenger Kids. No need to pay for a SIM card that comes with a monthly subscription price. They already have a device? Do you have an old phone? If not, I like Amazon Fire tablets and load Google Play Store yourself.” You can do an online search on how to install it. The tablets are inexpensive compared to Android tablets or iPads.

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5) Pinwheel Phone

— “I have a child with intellectual disability who needs a phone for work, keeping in touch with friends, etc. Child is easily tricked so I have to limit who can contact them and no access to social media is permitted. A Pinwheel phone + Bark.com (parent controls to filter keywords and monitor social media) has been a good fit for this situation. My child can talk to friends but I can supervise remotely as needed.”

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6) Together App

—For young children. The “Together Family Video Chat” app was created for grandparents to stay in touch with their kids, play games together, read books to the children, and chat. For Apple or Android phones or tablet.

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7) Google Voice

‎Google Voice gives you a phone number for calling, text messaging, and voicemail. It works on smartphones and computers, and syncs across your devices so you can use the app in the office, at home, or on the go.

 

8) TracFones or Other Phones with Pay-as-You-Go

—"My kids had a plain TracFone that they only had when they went to their dad's house. So they could call me if needed (or vice versa) and a nightly, good night call. I paid $20 for 90 days. Since it was by the minute, no calls were made to others without permission or emergency."

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OTHER HELPFUL IDEAS

 

9) Bark.com for Parent Controls on iPhones, Android, other Mobile Devices

“Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s online lives. We monitor 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms, including text messaging and email, for signs of digital dangers. Our screen time management and web filtering tools help you set healthy limits around how and when your kids use their devices” —Bark company description

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10) Other Clever Safety ideas

—HELP! emoji – “My 14 yr old keeps his iPhone on him at all times. We have a “code” emoji so if he’s ever in an uncomfortable situation but can’t talk, he knows what emoji to send to let me know something is wrong.

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11) What to Monitor

—"I check texts to see who they are chatting with and content of those chats, I just randomly look at different ones. I check their photos to see what they have pictures of. Occasionally I check their Instagram direct messages.”

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FEATURES TO LOOK FOR:

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Does it have?

  • GPS tracking to find the child’s location? Is it continuous? If not, can you set up the tracking to alert you every day?
  • Ability to approve or block certain people/friends/sites?
  • Can you limit the call list?
  • Cost for device or app?
  • Contract or month-to-month?
  • Does it require the internet?
  • Can I control the social media or games installed?
  • Can you monitor or control the use? For example, could it be used in the middle of the night? Or used continuously for more than an hour?

Are you going through a life-saving divorce and need support and clarity? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 4 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book on divorce for Christians and other people of faith, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback: https://amzn.to/3cF1j25  Or eBook: https://amzn.to/3CCBsnr

Also, sign up for my email list below or HERE www.lifesavingdivorce.com/courage

 


 

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