OwnFone, the designers of a range of accessible mobile handsets, have launched the ImageFone, a mobile that they themselves describe as a “dumb phone”, aimed at children for parents that wish to be able to contact their children at all times without opening them up to potentially harmful internet access and “sexting” practices.
Featuring no screen or number pad, the colourful chunky handset instead has pre-programmed call buttons assigned for different contacts, each identified by a photo-backed button on the handset’s front. Set-up online by a parent (with a case that can be customised to feature a child’s favourite photo, or even cartoon character), the handset allows for parent’s to dial in to the phone, while the child can only make outgoing calls to pre-set numbers, with no access to text messaging.
“It’s a fact that more parents than ever before are buying children under the age 11 a mobile phone,” said Tom Sunderland, Inventor and Founder of Ownfone.
“Unfortunately it’s also fact that these parents are exposing their children to the risks posed by the traditional handsets currently on the market.
“We launched ImageFone as a solution for parents – the handset is designed to allow them to keep in constant contact with their children whilst giving complete peace of mind. The ImageFone has our most basic functionality yet, providing a handset that is perfect for children as young as four as well as those with disabilities.”
The ImageFone starts from £55 and can be purchased at the OwnFone website on a 30 day rolling contract, as well as options for pay as you go and paid in advance bundles for 6 and 12 months.
There’s certainly a market for such a device, especially among primary school aged children. However, with mobile technology of ever growing importance both in educational terms and practical features offered (mapping apps, for instance), denying a child access to the full raft of mobile capabilities could prove just as damaging as them getting their hands on inappropriate materials.