Phil and Mia

I think I've switched my nearly 7-year-old daughter from iOS to Android.

She came willingly, which was a bit of a surprise, and truth be told I don't think she's knows the difference between one platform and another. She just knows that she's got a cooler-looking phone, and that I've told her it'll be much easier for me to get new music on there for her. (And cheaper for me, thanks to Google Play All Access.)

Still, for as cool as I think it is to see her using this new phone like she did her old inactive iPhone 3G, I can't help but wonder if I've turned into that parent, who doesn't give a damn that their kid suddenly has leaped forward a couple generations in personal tech hardware, all before her 7th birthday. That this new phone is all of a year old, and any one of our Android Central readers would be happy to have it. That I've just spoiled the hell out of my kid — and that she doesn't even really know it — is not lost me. (To say nothing of giving her one of 10 coveted device slots for my Google Play Music account.)

But the really scary thing is that unlike her old iPhone, I'm leaving this phone connected to the Internet. Again, that's mainly to make getting to Google Play Music All Access, and because occasionally there are some apps that love to crash on startup when they don't have an Internet connection. That's bad code, but whatever.

This is not unfettered access, though. I didn't just set my child loose on the Internet. This is a bit of an experiment as well.

A couple years ago HTC purchased Zoodles which basically is a gatekeeper kids app that keeps youngsters stuck in a kid-friendly silo. (It's still available as a stand-alone app.) I can control (among other things) what apps my daughter can use, and how long she can use the phone each day. (There are more granular controls like blocking specific sites, but we're not to that stage yet, and I'm not sure I want to be anyway.)

It takes a 4-digit PIN to get into the Kid Mode settings or to dump out of it and get back to the rest of the phone. I"m not naive enough to say it'll be foolproof, but for now it's working, and it's working pretty well. I don't have to deal with iTunes or actually purchase three Taylor Swift records, the majority of the games she played on the iPhone are on Android. 

It's not all skittles and beer — the Zoodles app is a little sluggish at times, and it behaves better on a fresh install and not on a phone that already has two other launchers installed on it. And a few of Mia's favorite games and educational apps are missing. 

But two days into this little experiment, I think we're both pretty happy with it. 

Thoughts on the Android 4.3 leak ...

So what appears to be a legit build of Android 4.3 for the Google Play edition Galaxy S4 leaked out. Alex Dobie did a great job Friday walking through what he found, and listing new features. More important, I think, is that he noted things like the background Wifi scanning without any undue alarm. It's there, clear as day, in the advanced Wifi settings, and I'm willing to bet you'll have the chance to toggle it on or off at setup anyway.

Never mind that Google announced this exact feature at Google I/O in May.

Feels like I've been saying this a few times now, but I have a feeling we'll see the official Android 4.3 announcement sooner rather than later. I just don't see it being released for the Google Play edition phones before the Nexus line.

Some folks are calling it a "minor" release or questioning whether it should be Android 4.2.3. I think that's selling it short, which is easy to do for under-the-hood improvements, but no less unfair.

Speaking of Google Play edition phones ...

We're well on our way for getting these written up, but the bottom line remains that the hardware is the hardware, they're running "stock" Android, and that experience is exactly what you think it is. 

Obviously the UIs and camera apps are night-and-day changes. And while I like having Photosphere back, I'm missing Zoes — particularly because they make it easy to do Auto Awesome gifs on Google+ — and Video Highlights on the HTC One, and I'm flat-out missing the great camera app itself on the Galaxy S4. You also lose burst mode on both phones — and, no, repeatedly pressing the shutter button isn't the same thing.

Trade-offs, ya know.

And speaking of Google+

It's two years old now, and I'm growing more and more impressed by it, especially is it morphs into the base for just about every Google product.

Especially impressive is how it's tied into music and movies. Apple's iTunes Ping failed. Twitter Music? Nope. But Google Play Music ties into Google+ in an easy and unobtrusive way.

A few other thoughts ...

  • Brilliant show of sportsmanship in the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Never mind the book. Never mind all the articles about production woes. "World War Z" was a good, entertaining movie. OK, plane crash notwithstanding. Fitting that we're talking about kids today, as my wife and I loved the "I'm not a baby" line. Sounds just like our nearly-3-year-old.
  • "Under the Dome" looks like it has potential. Some interesting thoughts from Stephen King on the TV series diverging from the book.
  • So long, Google Reader. You'll be missed. Right now I'm using NewsBlur (and its Android app), with ReadKit on OSX.
  • And I'm back on the official Twitter app. I'm none too happy about that. But I need a Twitter app that works.

That's it for this week. Plenty more Google Play edition and probably Android 4.3 coming up this week. Stay tuned.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Bringing the kids into the Android fold


Great time to get the kid into Android coding for apps, starts learning now, and she'll have a skill to fall back on. Get kids learning about how stuff works is a great education. When I was 15 I restored a 65 mustang all by myself, took six months and I paid for it all from cutting lawns. And i know a trade if I ever needed to work on cars again

wow how times have changed. 7 year olds with smartphones. i didn't get my first cell phone (a mounted car phone) until i was 24. $45/month for 45 "peak" local minutes - roaming and long distance was extra! texts? data? that didn't exist yet.

hooray for progress!

My son is headed to university in the fall and he still carries a dumbphone. Not that he doesn't want one, he just looked at the fees to be paid and decided he doesn't need one.

18 year old kids paying their own way for stuff? what a concept, huh?

It all boils down to parenting style,being a college student my parents have helped me foot the cellphone bill by letting me be in the family plan and I am really grateful towards them . There is more than one path to forge a healthy , happy and round human being.

I had my first phone maybe 8th grade?? My parents gave me whatever I wanted as long as I had the grades (which I did) my bought my first Android in college. But I also had a very very good job for my age working with Hilton... Which I went to school for and now is my career as a Property Manager for Hilton properties. So yea. It's the up bringing and life style. All my friends had phones.. In high school and 8th grade and some in 6th grade.

HTC ONE ~ Android Central App

It all boils down to parenting style,being a college student my parents have helped me foot the cellphone bill by letting me be in the family plan and I am really grateful towards them . There is more than one path to forge a healthy , happy and round human being.

technomom - smart kid. it sounds like he understands and appreciates the value of a dollar. and when you have to pay for things yourself you usually do and are better off for it.

If you're in the U.S. with T-Mobile, and you don't want to pay the $30 smartphone fee other carriers charge you don't have to. I got 4 lines on mine. 3 have a smartphone 1 doesn't, but non have data. As for me I just keep WiFi on at home and work. Sure I have limitations but at least I pay $110 for four lines.

I'm a teenager, 16 year old, but I don't think a kid at her age should have a phone for herself. My brother, almost 10 years old got his a few months ago. It is a Galaxy Young, so it is basically for calling (when my parents or I need to communicate with him) and a few simple games. Nothing else.

But 7 year old kid? No way. Play some games on their parent's phone, or take some pictures, or an Skecth app but not much else...

This isn't Slashdot, and you are expected to read the full story before commenting.

If you had, you would have seen this:

A couple years ago HTC purchased Zoodles which basically is a gatekeeper kids app that keeps youngsters stuck in a kid-friendly silo. (It's still available as a stand-alone app.) I can control (among other things) what apps my daughter can use, and how long she can use the phone each day. (There are more granular controls like blocking specific sites, but we're not to that stage yet, and I'm not sure I want to be anyway.)

It takes a pin to get out of this app.

Relax: Any father that makes his daughter wear an ID Badge around the house is not about to turn her loose on the Internet.

She is 7, you are 16. Neither of you are adults. By your logic, should you have a smartphone?

In the big scheme of things the difference between 16 and 7 isn't that big.

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Actually, a 16 year old will use a phone for good while an 8 or 9 year old will abuse it. Also in terms of health science, giving a platform for developing kids to type with their thumbs and such could lead to bad health effects down the road.

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Are you kidding me? I think an 8 year old would be less likely to abuse a phone than a 16 year old.

1) Many teenagers text while driving. This is something that an 8 year old cannot do.
2) A 16 year old may use his/her camera to capture/record images that should not be. I highly doubt an 8 year old would participate in sexting or anything stupid like that.
3) 16 year old boys have dirty minds, and more than you think probably use their phones for certain things.
4) 8 year olds arguably have stronger bonds with their parents and would therefore be more likely to use their phones to call/text their parents. This is most likely the intended use of the phone.

I'm trying to figure out how an 8 year old could abuse a phone. One could argue that 16 year olds might take better care of the phone, but then again, maybe not.

In Canada SMS text messages are used by some school boards for multiple choice questions...That's what I mean by 16 years olds using it for good.

Also, children who are still under development of bones (which is up to 21 years of age, but rapid development occurs in young age) may suffer form issues caused by extended use of a tablet.

I am not against giving children tech toys. Just be cautious on how long they use per day and what they do with it. An 8 year old could abuse the phone by OVER using it.

B.S. There is nothing about the tactile use of a tablet that would cause developmental problems.

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Ummm there is a huge difference between a 7 and a 16 year old. The 16 year old has a better grasp of what's right and wrong, not that it means they will show better judgment but still. Age doesn't really matter, what matters is the level of maturity (by no means should a 7 year old be given free reigns on the internet though).

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16 year olds do right from wrong. They know its wrong to send inappropriate pictures of themselves but they do it anyway. Believe me. I know this from personal experience with my own teenagers.

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you are not an adult yet so don't act like that you are and don't give lecture others about what to do and what is morally right.

Great write-up Phil (as per usual)

Neat to see the "almost 7 year old" already choosing Android - maybe some of the environment she's in (Hello Mr Android Central Editor in Chief), but I'm guessing she's also made the choice on her own. Kudos to you!

I think my only beef with this write-up is something that you take for granted, but not everyone can experience. No fault of your own, Phil, but pretty much anywhere BUT the US is limited in some capacity by Google. For example, in Canada Music, Movies, TV, and Voice are all NOT supported by Google. I'm sure there are ways to somewhat get these working via VPN or such but they'd still be limited and not the full-meal deal. Sad Panda and so forth.

Anyway, not your problem and nothing you have any control over whatsoever. Hope you have a great week Phil.

Happy July 4th to all you Americans!

Curious if you missed out on Falcon's tokens or if something wasn't working? At least Carbon *should* finally get updated in the near future. Really really anxious to see if TweetMarker gets added but ditching the tablet warning and fixing convos/instagram will be good...

And I'm sure you get this all the time but Mia really is a cute kid. :-) Hope Android keeps improving on edu apps, especially on tablets where the iPad's so ahead. The market's certainly open now.

My 8 and 5 year old have 4th generation ipod touches that are really starting to lag with games. They both look at my S4 and want that bigger screen. We will see. The 8 year old is at least 4 years from getting a phone. Who knows what will be going on then. This industry moves so fast. I would like to replace their old ipods but I don't know how I would do that without breaking the bank. I usually sell my "old" phones to pay for a new one.

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I'd suggest holding for any iPod touch updates around September, when there will (hopefully) be A6-based models. A 4-inch screen isn't as huge a jump as 5 inches, but the reality is that Apple dominates the smart media player space -- a lot of the Android-based equivalents right now are slower than an iPod touch and tend not to compare well as a whole.

One reminder: if your kids don't need a rear camera, the 16GB iPod touch at $229 may be viable.

Samsung Galaxy Music Player! Some places sell them cheaper than the iPod touches or sometimes the same price. They're bigger than an iPod touch and don't have call features and are only for wifi. It'd be a great kids option. Or a family house tablet. I'm only 16 but my little brother (9) got a galaxy player for Christmas. He loves it. I got a tablet and love mine. Plus if you get the galaxy player you could get them more free music and games than they could ever have had on the iPod.another perk would be it has a SD card.

Nice @Phil.

I have 10 and 7 y.o. daughters, both with their own tabs (Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 & Acer A100). I have a Moto Atria 2 that has the 10 year olds name on it (when she gets to middle school).

They both used to beg my wife to use her iPad... and as you can probably imagine, not anymore!

It really amazes me how kids at such young ages know how to use and navigate phones and tablets. I was a camp counselor last summer for a bunch of six-year-old first graders, and they were all pretty much obsessed with my Nexus 7 that I brought sometimes. Never mind that they all thought it was an iPad at first (though it's a testament to Apple's marketing that six-year-olds know what it is and attempt to identify one in real life), but needless to say, by the end of camp I had them all begging their mommies and daddies for a brand new Nexus 7 for their birthdays.

Really incredible how these kids who are so young take so easily to new technology.

The only thing that I hate about giving my son (13) a new android phone is that in .AU here we don't have Google play gift cards and there is no way I'm sticking my credit card on a phone for him.

And that is why apple will probably win in the end here because iTunes gift cards are found everywhere so its lower level for entry and once you get locked into the eco system (they already are because of thier iPod touch) its gets harder and harder to leave as time goes by

I've got my card on both my kids tablets. It's pass code protected so when they need to purchase anything they have to ask me.

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@Phil Nickinson

Thanks for the awesome post.

you and your kids both are looking very sharp in this photo. happy that you have a beautiful kid. also so many thoughts of yours here in this post, makes me interested about far android thinking.

bye the way, what kind of camera was used in this capture of you and your kid !!

Thanks in Advance

My sisters kids (now almost 20) were given inactive flip-phones as toys when they reached about 10, but just 3 years later they were carrying active basic smart-phones. Bare in mind I was still using a Nokia 6230 and my Psion 5mx! Boy how things have changed.

Has Android settled down with pipe and slippers? Will other operating systems leap ahead and replace it in some markets. This years "Crop" seems to focus on hardware; as the lines between "Phone" and "Computer" blur into insignificance.

Does Google have an Android future for us. I am actually beginning to wonder.

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Thanks for this post, Phil. My kids are a little younger (five and one) and I'm always interested to hear what other parents are doing with their kids technology-wise.

I think reason should be used, instead of fear. Also, nothing beats a little bit of just checking in on your kids unobtrusively.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution as each family is a bit different and there's bound to be trial and error in any approach you try.

Either way Phil it's awesome you can share your love with technology with your daughter!!

My 8 year old has a Kindle Fire (Christmas 2011) and is yearning for her first smartphone!!

Very nice article Phil. We certainly have come a long way with technology. The kids today know more than a lot of us give them credit for.
When I was a kid, it was two cups and a string from my house to the neighbors. :-D.

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My son will be 14 in August and has had a phone since he was 7. He's had a smartphone for about 4 years now.

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Our kids get phone access at age 11. Best program we have found is Funamo. Has an ugly website but works fantastic for keeping an eye on the kids - what programs, times, monitors what websites, allows me to remotely see all their texts, where their GPS shows they've been, etc. We basically give them mostly free reign with them knowing that we can see most anything they do and they will be accountable. Plus I can help keep them safe from some of the unsavory aspects of social interaction until they are old enough to defend themselves. We had iPhones before - now much better control with android.

"she came willingly" lol

she had no choice. You're the big dawg on the baddest Android forum around. It was just a matter of time.

All access to Google music account can be on up to 10 devices with the one monthly payments.

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Yeah but you can only play music on one device at a time, does Phil really think his daughter is EVER going to not be listening to music?!?

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Oh Just wait till her friends tells her iphones are cooler...just when you think you have her she will want an iPhone! Kids have a way of humbling their parents that is pretty cool! It's a great reminder that we may run things at work but they do not care...

Seniors too. I just got a 70-year old hooked on my Android tablet this weekend. It started with 250+ Solitaire Games, then Kindle Reader, then ability to voice search anything on web. He got hooked and we went to Costco to buy his own tablet today. I got him all setup.

That poor girl. Her face tells me, "My dad gave me an android phone because he doesn't love me. I want an iPhone soo bad, it's what my friends have. I use Vine and the Vine app on Android is crap. iOS 7 is coming out and looks incredible and even has extended parental controls and safeguards. But even then I'm sure he won't let me have one because he thinks I care about open source."

you are absolutely right about only one point-

she will think iOS7 looks incredible because it is designed for 7yr old girls.

Android is for everyone!! Android is for those who don't want someone else to make choices for them. Android is about freedom to choose how your device looks like, what your device does, what your device is all about! Android is freedom! Android is what you make it!!!

Oh that's so 2010.
Listen to kids nowadays. They do the Apple vs Android fanboy wars as well as anybody.

A Galaxy S4 is just as much of a status symbol nowadays as an iPhone.

That "HTC One S" Phil gave his daughter is by no means a bad phone. It's actually pretty cool and certainly better than the iPhone 3G she used to have. Though I chuckled a little after reading your comment, you are a tool.

Duddy.. You are in the wrong blog..go to I know I could be confusing..

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My girls initially had access to the Net in the form of iPod Touches when they were about 10. That was the tech of the time.

I didn't put blocks on anything. We had an experiment of Trust.
The simple rule was, and still is years later, ask me first and I'll probably say Yes to any paid download. I'm not fussed about spending the occasional 2 bucks.

And it has worked. I have a rough idea about what they are using their phones for (nowadays it's all assorted messaging apps) and they have been reasonably restrained on mobile internet usage. They understand the limits.

I guess it depends on the kids. I think it also matters to make them aware of the costs and limits and give gentle warnings "Don't watch YouTube when you're not on wifi, okay?"

Getting a phone for 7 year old, probably android as well. In Finland you're exception not having a smartphone at 1st grade. Uncapped data on any plan and fixed bills for kids so no YouTube-restrictions. In my view 7-year olds are really responsible with their phone use when told how and when to use their phones. As a parent I feel more easy knowing my kids can phone home at any time or vice versa. Giving freedom with responsibility, as gregmcph pointed, is the way to go.

Kids that age shouldn't have phones.

If its just for games and stuff using kytephone then fair enough but she will figure out how to see stuff onlone she shouldn't

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but he is leaving this as a wifi only device right? Not sure why everyone is throwing a fit over the phone aspect. I gave my 10 year old my zoom and my 7 year old hijacked my Nexsus 7 for a few weeks. I'm really not worried about either of them abusing the internet. Neither do social media, both think the opposite sex is yucky, both tell on each other if one of them uses the terrible 4 letter word 'dumb', and both get grossed out over the smallest sight of blood. Not really worried about them abusing the internet at their age. It's not like he's talking about running out and buyin a brand new HTC One or Galaxy S4 for her. Relax people and stop being so judgemental. Some parents just feel like they have a license to tell everyone else how to parent. That entitilement drives me crazy.

When I was 7 there were no cellphones, PC's, Video games... We had rotary home phones and black and white TV's. My how things have changed.

I gave my 7 & 5 year olds tablets for Christmas last year. (We're talking sub-$100 craplets running ICS.) Loaded them up with Kid's Place, and locked them in airplane mode so no internet access at all. Then loaded them up with kids games, and let them have at them. There's no worries about them getting online as they are running as offline only (though a few of the games have stopped working due to a lack of internet access). And well my 3 year old keeps asking me or my wife to borrow our Android phones. So when I upgraded, I loaded Kid's Place on it, and locked it down from any online access as well. Kept the games on there age appropriate (plus Angry Birds, cause he's gotta have his Angry Birds), and now he doesn't need to borrow ours anymore.

As long as you take measures to prevent them from doing anything they want on there, and monitoring their usage so they're not on it all day, then I don't see the problem.

This is what I call "great parenting". Don't poison your kids with Apples from the Cupertino tree: show them the wondrous possibilities that Android has to offer!

I guess I'm lucky because Falcon is still working for me. I'm gonna stock with it till I can't.

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I got my daughter an 8GB Nexus7 for her 5th birthday and my son a 16GB N7 for his 7th birthday last year. they had Leapster "tablets" before that, but they love their Nexus7s. I use applock to pin protect play store, chrome, youtube and some other features and it works pretty well to keep them away from the wrong parts. I added my google account to both tablets so they have access to all the movies we have on the Googletv (though I can remove R movies from showing up on their device which is nice) and created them playlists for Google All Access Music so they are pretty much set.

Had a similar experience, when my son was 11 he had an iPhone 4s. I told my wife & son who both had iPhones they had to choose another phone because I was no longer supporting Apple(for my personal views on the company). My son was upset because he "loved" his iPhone and mentioned all his friends had one. Well when I replaced his iPhone with a S3 he quickly forgot about the iPhone and loved his new phone. Wife could care less about what phone she had.

Although IMO, the iPhone is a better choice for a child as IOS has built in restrictions that can disable certain functions/apps.

My 10 and 7 yr olds have Nook Colors Running Cyanogen on my Google account. The Nook has no camera and Perfect App Lock keeps them out of areas they are not suppose to be messing with and offline even though they are online. Cyanogen allows me to lock down the home screen and make the menu button disappear. A cheap safe alternative until they get a little older.

I'm happy that more and more adults are giving kids technology, this is exactly how we get our kids to be interested, by giving them these tools early on. I'm even more happy that you switched her to Android over iOS because I believe starting off with something easier, like iOS, is just a waste of brain power, and now a days I'm starting to see iOS become much harder to use than Android for certain tasks. The OS that you give your kid doesn't really matter, the fact of the matter is that you give your kid a device, something they are used to seeing. I wish I could smack all these people who say "I only got my phone when I was 50 years old, I only had 10 minutes of "peak" calling, and 2 text messages, oh and don't even get me started on email, I could only look at 2 emails but it would have costed me $10 to send a reply back! You don't need a phone until you are my age!" It's these idiots out there that think "Just because I don't know how to use this doesn't mean he/she should be able to." My Dad tries using new phones and tablets but he just gets bored and then he gets frustrated because he doesn't understand something. My mother hates phones because she thinks "They are not good for education, they are useless, they allow you to cheat." I got my first phone when I was in grade 11, (this past February actually, a Nexus 4) before that I had phones available to me to use but I never really was allowed to call or text or use data, it was just in case of emergencies, so each month Fido would take $10 and it would keep adding up as a balance, when my parents found out the balance when I went to buy my N4, they said, "Wow Dev, look, you never even use your old phone, why do you need a new one?" The thing is, it was completely their fault for not allowing me to do anything with it and putting it on a prepaid plan where there'd be restrictions. Parents these days are just deaf, dumb, and blind. They don't understand something and assume their kids won't either. They're holding us back from doing great things because they have their own agenda. They'd rather a kid have a good steady job that pays $50,000 a year than build a great company that brings in $50,000,000 a year. It is this mentality of being "just normal" that these parents have that stops every single one of us kids from being those "1 in a million" people who become successful like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. They even have the nerve to say you won't become successful without straight A's. Even after many stories have been done by many companies, there was this one by Macleans that said "C students run the world" (Google it if you would like.) it explains how the C students had the drive to strive for something greater than become an accountant making a consistent salary, or a lawyer making the same salary. It says they are the ones who create companies and corporations that do well because they are the right minded thinkers, not the left minded that our parents and schools brainwash us to become. Warren Buffet said "Wall Street is the only place on Earth that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from people who take the Subway." I see this as if you're giving advice to someone who rides a Rolls Royce to see you then you could use your own advice and become one of those people who ride in a Rolls Royce, but most of the time, it's always a damn family member who holds you back. When I was in the third grade I bought a set of Pokemon Cards for $35. It contained 150 trading cards. I went to school the next day and my friend decided to offer me $50 for only 75 of those cards. So me being the mesmerized little kid I was after seeing the shiny $50 red bill (Canadian) I gladly accepted. I brought the bill home and my mother yelled at me, took it back to my teacher the next day and gave it to her. In the end I lost 75 pokemon cards, and the $50. My first $50 I ever made on my own. Sorry for jumping all over the place but in essence, give your children the technology they desire because then they will desire more out of it, and thats how they'll become successful. Unless you're fine with $50,000 a year and vacationing every couple of years, barely paying the internet bill, then by all means go for it and hold them back of the success they deserve. - Coming from a 17 year old kid.

My 7 year old has my old Sony Xperia and he loves it. Mainly for gaming, his friends thinks he's the coolest on the block. Truth be told he has to earn play time on that device so he's doing lots of things without me telling him to do so just so he can get 30-40 minutes of mindcraft.

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How about buy the kid a freakin ball to play with OUTSIDE instead of another screen for the kids to stare at all damn day

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