When I had the opportunity to test 1stFone I initially couldn't see why I would, and then I thought of all the weekends we spend out and about at shows, all the campsites we stay on and the mega busy shopping centres we visit. I remembered that a few years ago we had 4 little people aged 6-8 and we bought them a cheap phone to use in an emergency. We used that phone for years until it leapt out of a young man's pocket and was carried away into the Atlantic Ocean to live a life of adventure.
Like it or not, this is the modern world and we have become used to being able to contact our family at any time. We write our phone numbers on children's wristbands and forearms when we go to festivals and theme parks in case they get lost, and we lament every time someone doesn't immediately answer because their phone is 'on silent'.
1stFone is aimed at children aged 4-9 and is so much better than buying your younger children a cheap phone because you can only ring the pre-set numbers (you can choose 4,6,8 or 12 numbers). There is no internet or Facebook to accidentally (on purpose) log into, and there are no games or distractions, it doesn't even have a screen. Your children would have a devil of a job using all of the credit without you knowing all about it. This is very much not a toy, it's a phone.
Ordering your 1stFone is incredibly simple and quick. Firstly you choose a theme and then a colour. My 4 year old chose skulls as he's a bit keen on pirates and dead things at the moment. He chose a blue background because it's his favourite colour. Next you decide how many numbers you would like pre-programmed into the phone, and therefore how many buttons you will need. We went with 8, as it allows us to put our own numbers and those of the 5 teenagers, plus 'home'.
My boys have been playing Reading Eggs online and I know that even my 3 year old can easily recognise 'M'. My 4 year old is beginning to learn a few words, so Tom, Mum, Dad are already recognisable to him, and he can work out enough letters already to decipher the others.
1stFone have just added the option to choose photographs instead of words, and will soon introduce a braille version, so it really is incredibly accessible for a huge majority of the population, and not just young children. There are a huge array of different designs, so it makes an ideal phone for an older, less tech savvy member of your family or anyone who would find it difficult to use one of today's massively complicated mobile phones.
1stFone costs from only £40 (mine would cost approx £56) and arrives ready to use. Because the battery doesn't have to power tons of apps it will last for a few days switched on and little used, making it more useful on a week long camping trip than any other phone in my household.
This phone is incredibly small and light, around 40g (which is the same as a 'grab bag' of crisps) and comes complete with a matching lanyard so that your child can wear it around their neck if they wish. It really isn't any weight at all, even the youngest child would barely notice it, and I like that the lanyard has 'snatch apart' clasps so that it shouldn't be able to strangle your child.
It is also really tough, and because it has no screen, far less likely to get broken than a standard phone in general use by a child. Despite the light weight it really does feel very solid, and I wasn't scared of letting my children hold it, or wear it while they ran about.
It took my boys moments to learn how to use the phone, it's very intuitive and straightforward. I let them have a good look at it and then we went to test.
|First time using the 1stFone to call someone ~ very proud!|
I love that this phone is practically useless to anyone other than your child. I can get in touch with 1stFone and amend the pre-programmed numbers, but no-one else can. It doesn't have any value to anyone else, and so hopefully would never make your child a target for theft.
Although I would draw the line at children under 10 having a phone of their own for pleasure, entertainment and calling their mates, I obviously agree with letting them have one to ring me. I do worry that my 2 younger children often think they are capable of a lot that they see our teenagers get up to, when in fact they are not. It would be all too easy to misplace one of our boys and if they were holding a phone then they could explain to me where they were and I could go and find them. Of course the 1stFone isn't only useful in emergencies, it's also super handy for giving your slightly older child a bit of extra independence. For ringing to tell them it's teatime and they should come home, or so that they can ring and ask to come home later or explain why they'll be late.
I think this is an especially great thing for children who's parents don't live together. It means they can always contact the other parent and pass on those vital messages like 'Megan has fallen out with Lauren' or 'did you wash my P.E.kit?' without having to rely on asking adults for phones or numbers. They can give you a call if they need to talk to you, and no-one needs to give them any kind of permission or help. I like that.
1stFone offer various payment options which start at around £5 a month average PAYG or £70 for a yearly contract with 50 minutes of calls a month included. When my 1 month free trial ends we'll be moving our phone over to PAYG and I envisage that over the next few years it will become increasingly useful and valued. I hope that we will never need it for an emergency, but while we have it, we have a little extra security - and I shouldn't have to yell across a campsite that tea is ready!
We were sent a 1stFone to review