Smartphones for kids hit the Canadian market

Children’s phone usage is being scrutinized across courtrooms and classrooms, but one tech company thinks it has an answer. 

What happened: This week, Pinwheel rolled out Canada’s first “kid-safe” smartphone — a device designed specifically to give parents more oversight. The phone doesn’t have internet access, but has over 1,200 kid-friendly apps for photo sharing, messaging, and games.

Why it matters: Parents, schools, and provinces are trying anything to curb kids' smartphone use (including one dad locking devices in a safe), but in a world where over half of 11-year-olds in Canada have a phone, it’s become harder to control excessive scrolling.

  • Some experts argue that for health reasons, parents should only get their kids “dumb phones” (read: what many of us used to just call phonesuntil at least high school.

Big picture: Alberta and Ontario are implementing cellphone bans in classrooms later this year, and Québec is weighing a social media ban for kids under 16. Meanwhile, nine school boards in Ontario have sued social media platforms, alleging their designs are addictive.

Bottom line: A kid-friendly phone might not be on the top of Christmas wish lists this year, but as smartphones continue to affect young people’s mental health, some parents could adopt a Pinwheel-or-nothing approach with their little rascals.—LA