Monday, June 21, 2010
As much as it goes against my professed disapproval of those "Crackberry" phone addicts who can't put work down for two seconds, I did just get a Droid. For those of you who don't know, there are basically three levels of cell phones: regular phones (lowest level), smart phones (middle level), and pda phones (highest level). Droid is a pda phone that rivals the iPhone, running a myriad of possible apps and delivering high-speed access to my e-mail and the internet. I hate to admit it but I love it so far. It does so many cool things, I can understand why people are waiting two months to get one...and why every teenager wants one. It's got an 8 megapixel camera and a camcorder, it plays mp3's and video, it's got GPS built in, and it has an app for pretty much anything you would want to do...in fact, I am posting this article from my Droid, not my computer. It's electronic candy for adults.
Although it's unlikely that most parents would run out and purchase a Droid for their children (especially at its $500 price), I felt compelled to share some observations about the Droid, in case anyone has recently come into money and felt like their child deserved such a device.
First, let me restate my position on kids and phones: No child needs a smartphone or a pda. Texting and calling family and friends does not require Internet capabilities or a data plan on the phone. If your children or the post-teens at Verizon are telling you otherwise, they are pulling a fast one one you. Most basic phone services will allow your children to call or text. So my best advice is don't get s Droid or even an Internet/data enabled smartphone of any type for your kids.
Now, with that out of the way, the Droid does do a lot and is a very useful business tool. But it does pose some threat to kids that every adult should know about before they hand their phone over to their kids to play a game or especially before they buy one for their child.
Back on February 25th, I posted an article that praised Apple for taking all objectionable apps off of its iTunes store. It's still that way and Apple continues to deserve kudos for it. Droid, however has it's own version of the iTunes store it calls the Apps Market or Marketplace. In fact there are several different sites you can download Droid apps from, unlike iTunes that only allows apps downloaded through iTunes. The Marketplace has not removed objectionable apps and there is a veritable department store full of bad apps that can be downloaded: pornography, sex-based video games, hate-based apps and games, violence/vandalism-based apps, I even found a "Neo Nazi Quote of the Day" app. Some of these apps require a credit card to purchase but most do not.
Keep in mind, apps have nothing to do with the Internet. Yes there are a few safe browser apps that will run on the Droid and make your child's internet experience safer while online via the Droid. But apps don't run through the Internet. They are their own self-contained program that will ignore the filters you set up for the safe browser you install. If you were to install something like SafeEyes on the Droid, then porn sites may be filtered out while your child is browsing the Internet. But they can close the browser and open the "hottie of the day" app and look at all the naked pictures they want. And if they know what they are doing, they can install the app, look at the pictures, and uninstall it when they are done, leaving no evidence for you to find on the phone. Free apps can be downloaded over and over again, as can most paid apps, once you have purchased them.
So give it some thought before you give in and buy your kid a Droid... or even hand your Droid over to your kids to play a game. I love m ine. But my kids won't get one until two things happen: 1. They are 18 and 2. They can pay for it themselves.