Children of all ages are being given their own mobile phones, the lucky ones being handed smartphones that many adults would love to own. The problem with this is the capacity for misuse a smartphone offers kids. They can use the device to access the Web, download apps, keep in touch with anyone and everyone, or take photographs to send to others. Kytephone is a free Android app that seeks to turn any Android handset into a child-friendly smartphone.
Kytephone is currently available for the Android operating system. Once installed to a child's smartphone it becomes a controlled environment for them to play in, with parents controlling contacts, apps, and photo-sharing. The online dashboard allows parents to see all activity made on the phone and also allows parents to track the smartphone in order to keep tabs on their child. The basic functions are demonstrated in the video at the foot of this article.
To set up Kytephone parents need to download the app from Google Play and install it to their child's smartphone. After logging in they can then create contacts and manage the phone via the dashboard. Once installed only the parents can disable the app thanks to the need to either log in or enter an unlock code. This assumes the child involved isn't a hacking Wunderkind.
Kytephone is currently only available on Android but the company is looking into the possibility of bringing it to the iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry platforms in the future. Kytephone operates on a freemium model, meaning the app is free to download with the basic functions as described above, but with the option to add premium paid-for features in the future. The advantage of using this model is that kids are never exposed to adverts.
There are other options open to parents dealing with this issue - buy them a feature phone (though I guess that could still lead to issues like bullying), or not buy them a phone at all (though the lack of instant contact could be seen to outweigh any dangers posed by potential smartphone ownership). Some carriers also offer similar services but these are typically charged for on a monthly basis, making Kytephone an attractive prospect.