Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

Back to School: Is Your Child Ready for a Smartphone + a Tablet Giveaway

Back to School with DMMBIt’s that time of year to start thinking about going back to school. Those thoughts always come with both excitement and dread from parents and kids alike. Here at Des Moines Moms Blog, we want to equip you parents out there with the best Des Moines has to offer to get you “school ready.” We hope you enjoy this back-to-school series as much as we enjoyed putting it together. Be sure to read each day as there will be many giveaways and discounts throughout the week.


mobile phoneOur family is quickly approaching the stage of parenting that includes cell phones for our children as well as the management that goes along with them. My husband and I have recently started asking each other some questions related to determining our oldest son’s “readiness.”

A few of our questions included:

– What would the smartphone primarily be used for? Could this be accomplished in some other way?

– Is our son ready to help contribute financially to the monthly fees and initial costs?

– Is our son responsible in other areas (i.e. chores, schoolwork, etc.)?

After we discussed some of the answers to these questions, we looked for some help with phone specifics from the experts. I recently spoke with Jason Bathke, one of the General Managers of the Verizon Des Moines company-owned stores, about parental controls, entry level smartphones, tablets, and the variety of plans offered by Verizon Wireless.

Q: “What types of parental controls are available to help us monitor usage and avoid data overages?”

A: Check with your carrier on what services they offer. Verizon Safeguards includes many services free of charge such as Content Filters for age appropriate content, control of access to services (such as downloading apps), and important alerts on data usage on your account.

For more options and peace of mind for parents, FamilyBase™ (exclusive Verizon service) may work best. With FamilyBase, parents can set time and usage restrictions on their children’s phones. It makes it easy to monitor their contact lists and see who and when their children are calling and texting. Service can be blocked at certain times of day except for “trusted” numbers. For example – when they are supposed to be sleeping or doing their homework! Check with your carrier to see if similar services are available.

Verizon’s More Everything Plan includes free automated messages that alert you when you’re approaching data limits. However, you first have to establish trust with your child because these can be overridden. To set hard limits on data usage you can utilize something like FamilyBase for an extra $5/month.

Data usage is usually the biggest problem with beginner users. Remind your kids to connect to Wi-Fi whenever available.

Q: “How should we begin to determine what kind of phone would be best for our son?”

A: Android phones are generally less expensive for apps, music, etc. Some families are Apple families and will go that direction. I tend to focus not so much on the type of phone but on how to protect them. We always recommend getting good cases and carrying insurance for kids’ phones.

I also recommend starting off with a used phone. This way, if it doesn’t work out, parents aren’t generally stuck in a contract and can drop or suspend the services as needed. However, back-to-school time is a great time for deals on a new phone.

Finally, my husband and I discussed some potential rules and expectations we’ll have once we decide it’s time to add a smartphone to our plan for our son. Verizon was also a great help with this list. Some of their recommendations include:

– Educating your child that no message or picture is private. Once a message or picture is sent, it can be forwarded or copied and spread to several other devices and/or the Internet.

– Asking your child if he/she would be comfortable with family members seeing or reading what is sent from device.

– Contacting the school to ensure the child is following guidelines set for school time.

– Knowing your plan and its limits and restrictions tied into your selected calling, messaging, and data plan. Discuss usage expectations with your child (even have them sign a contract!).

– Checking with your carrier for programs that can control child’s usage.

– Creating expectations for when to use and not use the device.

– Ensuring your child knows the danger of giving out personal information. Avoid giving information via text, calls, or websites.  Keep their number private.

So, is your child ready? Are you ready? Hopefully some of these tips and suggestions will help you when you’re in the market for a phone for your child.

Today, Verizon Wireless of the Great Plains Region is giving away one Ellipsis tablet to a lucky reader!!

Verizon EllipsisThe Verizon Ellipsis tablet offers kids access to read their favorite books on the Amazon® Kindle™ app and see the text crisply and clearly on the 7–inch HD display.

  • With Redbox Instant™ by Verizon, you can browse a library of hits and instantly watch movies. And with dual, front–facing speakers, you will clearly hear what you are viewing.
  • Apps such as iHeartRadio link you to live stations or help you create your own commercial–free music station.
  • Download exciting game apps from the Google Play™ Store and challenge yourself or compete with others. Enjoy an enhanced gaming experience with a built–in gyroscope.

Get on America’s Largest 4G LTE Network:

  • Stay connected on the go. Download your favorite social networking apps and use the front- or rear-facing camera to take photos that you can share with friends and family.
  • Ellipsis 7 supports personal and corporate email accounts, so you can send and receive emails to get work done when you’re away from your home or office.
  • Use Verizon’s 4G LTE network to easily and quickly surf the web with the Google Chrome™ browser.

The Giveaway

Please check our Facebook page TODAY only for the Tablet giveaway from Verizon Wireless. Contest will end at midnight.

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