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5 Ways to Stay Safe on Halloween with Life360

It’s almost our favorite holiday of the year: Halloween! From costumes to candy and pumpkin spiced lattes to spooky decorations, we pull out all the stops at Life360 for Halloween.

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We know how fun this time of year can be, but we also know the worries that come from letting your family have their freedom to trick or treat, party, and gorge on candy.

To give you peace of mind this October, we’ve put together five ways to stay safe on Halloween using Life360.



1. Map A Trick-or-Treat Zone

Map a trick-or- treat route with the family. Create a Place Alert for this area so you will get a notification if your children step outside of it into unknown territory. To set up your trick-or-treat Place:

  1. From the menu, hit ‘Places’
  2. In the Places screen, hit ‘Add’ in the top right corner
  3. Name your Place ‘Trick-or-Treat Zone’
  4. Enter an address or move the map below to the desired zone
  5. Slide the bar at the bottom to make the area smaller or larger, depending on your family’s route
  6. Save the place!
  7. On the next screen, make sure you turn on notifications for this Place



2. A Circle for Teen Halloween Groups


Help your teen create a private Circle in Life360 to connect them with their group of friends. It’s always best to stay together, but if someone gets separated they can easily see everyone’s location on the Life360 map to find them. To create a new Circle:

  1. On your teen’s phone, have them click on the Circle name at the top and scroll to the bottom of the drop-down menu
  2. Click ‘Create a New Circle’
  3. Click ‘Create a Custom Circle’ (ios)
  4. Name the Circle something fun, and save!
  5. Click ‘Invite New Members’ at the bottom and have them share the code with their friends
  6. Their friends follow step 1 and click ‘Enter an Invite Code’
  7. They can follow each other and message each other privately throughout the night!




3. Halloween Party Arrival Alerts


Know your children have arrived safely to a party with Life360’s new Driving Behavior. Driving events, like top speed, are listed in the app whether it is your teen driving or they are riding with a friend. To view Driving Behavior:

  1. From the map, click on a Circle member’s picture
  2. Click on a ‘Drive’ to view details
  3. You can see the time, location and distance of the drive, as well as the Top Speed reached during the drive



4. Create a Neighborhood Circle


Keep on top of neighborhood safety with your neighbors, or with the parents of your childrens’ friends. Create a new Circle, and you can easily communicate privately in the app about location and safety.

  1. Just follow the steps from #2!





5. Check Battery Levels


Make sure your teen leaves home with a fully charged mobile phone! Life360 shows battery levels on Circle members, so nudge your family to charge up when they’re running low on juice. Being available in case of emergency is important. To view a Circle member’s battery level:

  1. From the map, look to the right of a Circle member’s name for their battery percentage


Follow these steps to have a safe and boo-tiful Halloween and to get peace of mind while your family has fun! Happy Haunting!

Children in halloween costumes show funny faces



Don’t have Life360? Download it now:


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How to Help Your Teen Become a Safe Driver

In honor of this week’s Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs from October 16 through the 22nd, we’ve listed 5 tips on how to help your teen become a safe driver.

Of all the issues related to raising a teen, one of the top worries is about them driving on their own. Understandably so, with unfortunate facts and statistics around teen driving.

According to the CDC, in 2013, six teens aged 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. 15-24 year-olds represent only 14% of the U.S. population, but they account for 30% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries. And in particular, male teens accounted for $19 billion of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries while females accounted for $7 billion. Also, the crash rate for 16-year-olds is 3.7 times higher than drivers of all ages, according to California DMV.

The information around teen driving is scary, but there are preventative measures parents can put in place to help their children become safer drivers, lowering their risks of becoming an unfortunate statistic.

teen driver, teen driver safety week, family locator, crash detection

Photo by: Sam VarnHagen/Ford Motor Co.

Our newest feature, Life360 Driver Protect, allows families to have a conversation about driving habits with actionable data.

Under a user’s Profile is a Safe Drive Review. This summary provides insights around what a driver does during their route. Events monitored are top speed, instances of rapid acceleration, hard braking and cell phone usage – all listed at the time and exact location of occurrence.

teen driving safety, family locator

Sit down with your family members and recap what is happening during drives. By recognizing these unsafe habits, you can help lower the amount of unsafe Events, and therefore lower the possibility of an unsafe drive.


Here are 5 ways to help get your teen interested and comfortable about teen driving safety by using Life360 Driver Protect:



family locator for crash detection and teen driving

  1. Enable Drive Detection in the Life360 app on your phone and on your teen’s phone. By allowing your teen to see your drives as well as their own, you will show your confidence in using this tool for positive feedback, rather than as a tool which goes behind their back.
  2. Schedule 30 minutes each evening to go over your teen’s driving Events. Talk through how Events such as rapid braking and acceleration can be avoided by focusing on the road and driving at  safer speeds.
  3. Provide positive feedback when the number of driving Events decrease. A new driver is inexperienced and will make mistakes, but focusing on improvement will encourage them rather than lower their confidence.
  4. Gamify the experience, like rewarding good behavior with prizes like gas and gift cards.
  5. Reiterate the importance of safe driving. Use statistics in a constructive manner, rather than in a fearful way, to help them understand the effects of habits like texting while driving, driving at night, or driving while impaired.


In addition to helping your teen become safer on the road, it’s also important to educate them on what to do in case of emergency. Simple things like fender benders, flat tires, and driving in severe weather can be scary to anyone, especially to someone who’s new on the road.

Life360 Driver Protect also features Extended Roadside Assistance. We provide 24/7 assistance if you or your family requires a tow, needs advice on what to do in a minor accident, or wants to locate a nearby hotel or hospital. Call us by just tapping a button in the Life360 app.

Raising a teen can be hard, and teaching them to drive can be even harder. Life360 Driver Protect is here to help make that process easier, and to help your whole family become better, safer drivers.


Don’t have Life360? Download it now:

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Life360 Driver Protect User Guide

Welcome to Life360 Driver Protect! Providing driving peace of mind for the whole family

You can’t always be on the road with your family, but we can. Below are tutorials and tips on how to setup your account and how to take advantage of all the features of your subscription.

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Safe Drive Reviews

Safe Drive Reviews allow you to see Events during drives including top speed, instances of rapid acceleration and hard braking, and distracted driving from cell phone usage.

Follow these steps to turn on Safe Drive Reviews for your Circle Members:

Step 1: Enable Drive Detection for yourself

  • Launch Life360
  • Tap Settings in the menu
  • Tap Driving Analysis
  • Drag the button right until it turns green

Step 2: Enable Drive Detection for your Circle members

  • Follow Step 1 above on each Circle member’s phone
  • Each of their buttons must be green on their phones in order to be detected
  • If ‘Drive Detection Paused’ is listed, this Circle member has not enabled their Drive Detection

Step 3: Receive notifications after your Circle members’ drives

  • Tap Driving in the menu
  • Drag the button right until it turns green to turn on notifications for a Circle member
  • Drag the button left until it turns white to turn off notifications for a Circle member

Step 4: View Safe Drive Reviews

  • Tap on a Circle member to view their History
  • Drives are marked separately from trips, ex: “7 mi Drive”. Scroll through History to view 30 days of trips and drives
  • Click on a particular Drive to view its Safe Drive Review. Events will be clickable on the map and listed at the bottom. They are listed with time and location of each instance

Safe Drive Reviews include Events for each drive. Listed below is the meaning of each Event. These are tracked while the phone is in motion in a vehicle and is not dependent on the Circle member being the driver.


Phone Usage – Use of your phone 

Hard Braking – Sudden or strong braking

Rapid Acceleration – Increase in speed in a very short amount of time

Top Speed – The top speed reached during a drive

Driver Protect features are available for every member of a Circle. In order to see Safe Drive Reviews, enable Crash Detection, and use our Extended Roadside Assistance, the subscribed Circle must be selected.

Crash Detection

Accidents happen, and we’ll send help to you and your loved ones as quickly as possible. Life360’s proprietary system automatically detects a car accident based on the sensors of your phone. Tested over millions of miles, our smart algorithms can detect the difference between a car accident and dropping your phone on the ground. You can’t always be there, but we can.

How Crash Detection Works: howcrashdetectionworks

Driver Protect features are available for every member of a Circle. In order to see Safe Drive Reviews, enable Crash Detection, and use our Extended Roadside Assistance, the subscribed Circle must be selected.


Contact Us for Extended Roadside Assistance

Simply tap a button to reach us 24/7 for driving help.

Click “Call Driver Care Support” to be connected to our trained advisersLive Driver Support Graphic We help with

  • Towing
  • Flat tires
  • Lock outs
  • Jump starting a battery
  • Running out of gas

We are also available to help with turn-by-turn directions, advice on what to do in a minor accident and emergency situations like severe weather or power lines on the road. We’re just a tap away for your driving needs.

Not sure if you have Driver Protect? Click on your menu, and you will see your subscription information listed. premium menu

If you’d like to subscribe to Drive Protect, click on Premium and follow the next steps

Don’t have Life360? Download it now:

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Life360 Launches Driver Protect


Today we are very excited to launch Life360 Driver Protect – a new subscription service that provides peace of mind to families on the road. The service uses your smartphone to automatically detect if you are in a serious accident and immediately contacts emergency responders and your family members. The service also delivers Safe Drive Reviews to subscribers, providing them with actionable safety insights about their driving habits.

The idea of Driver Protect developed as a result of Life360 feedback; families are concerned when their teens are on the road. Teen driving statistics are astoundingly unfortunate. released facts stating 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age, and 56% of teens said they talk on the phone while driving. And according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.

Comprehensive driver safety services used to only be available via in-vehicle hardware diagnostic systems. But we knew we could offer a solution with software instead of hardware. Through a partnership with Zendrive, the leading safety analytics company, we can give access to driver safety features to anyone with a smart phone and internet connection. To date, Zendrive has collected and analyzed 1 billion miles of driving data giving it unrivaled visibility into driver behavior and modern transportation patterns.

Our technology works in any vehicle, so families are no longer tethered to one car. This service protects every member of the Family Circle in a single subscription, and the features travel with everyone on their smartphones, providing peace of mind to families when their loved ones are on the road.

Life360 Driver Protect features:

  • Automatic Crash Detection and Emergency Response: Life360 Driver Protect automatically detects when a family member is involved in a serious accident. Our  trained advisors will immediately contact the member and ask if emergency responders are needed. If so, they dispatch services and provide the exact accident location coordinates while staying on the phone with the member until help arrives. Life360 advisors also contact members of the Family Circle to share that their loved one has been in an accident and provide the accident location.


  • Safe Drive Review: Family members can opt to receive safety insights about each drive taken by a loved one in their Family Circle, whether that person is the driver or a passenger. Insights include trip information on a map that shows duration and route, reporting on top speed, and instances of rapid acceleration, hard braking and cell phone usage.


  • Extended Roadside Assistance: Help is just a tap away. Drivers can contact Life360 24 hours a day, seven days a week for roadside assistance if they get a flat tire, require a tow, need advice when in a minor accident, or other car issues.


The subscription also includes features from Life360 PLUS:

    • Unlimited Place Alerts: Subscribers can set up unlimited Place Alerts to get notified automatically when loved ones arrive or depart locations like school, work and home
    • 30 Days of Location History: Thirty days of location history for everyone in the Family Circle is available to easily look back in time at the family’s comings and goings
    • Same Day Email Support: Even the littlest question is a big concern to us. When you contact our support, we’ll give you priority service and respond within 24 hours
    • Crime Hotspots & Alerts: Stay informed about local crime, including details about the incident (e.g. theft, burglary, vandalism), location, and resolution. You’ll also be able to see if registered sex offenders live in your neighborhood

Through the Driver Protect product, and specifically the Safe Drive Reviews, we hope to create a family of better, safer drivers. We recently conducted a survey of our users, and 82% of parents with teenagers said they worry about their teen’s safety when driving without a parent. With detailed information around phone usage, rapid acceleration and hard braking, families can have more focused conversations to review specific driving habits they can improve.

The Life360 Driver Protect subscription is now available in the U.S. and covers all members of the Family Circle for $7.99 per month or $69.99 per year. This is less than half the price of existing, comprehensive driving safety services.


The safe way to go Pokémon GO hunting

Pokémon GO is a gaming phenomenon, and it has opened up huge possibilities for AR (augmented reality) type games. For those who may not have heard yet, Pokémon GO is revolutionizing gaming by drawing millions of new players into the great outdoors. The premise of the game is to physically find and collect all the virtual pocket monsters (Pokémon), and to “be the very best” by battling their Pokémon against each other to control “Gyms,” which are sought-after contested spaces. You can collect special items at various points of interest only by physically being there, within feet, of these markers (called PokeStops).


It’s a whole new experience, and many people young and old are found gathering in plazas, parks, churches and schools across the country into the late evening hours.

It’s great to see kids actually wanting to go outside and explore their cities. But while the game draws people outdoors, it can also have a negative effect on the awareness of one’s surroundings, especially when your eyes are glued to the screen. Police departments across the country have started issuing safety tips for playing the game.

As a software test engineer at Life360 and a Pokémon GO player, it has been heartening to see our app used by quite a few families and among groups of friends as a way to stay connected and aware of their surroundings.


Life360 provides families and friends with a way to privately see each other’s location, know if they need help, and see threats around them. It’s free for iPhone and Android.

There are a few ways to use Life360 in conjunction with Pokemon GO. Once you have created a Life360 account, create a Circle for your family and a separate Circle for your friends who are playing Pokémon GO. Make sure everyone you invite to your Circle downloads the app and accepts your invite so you can see each other’s locations.

Slack for iOS Upload (4)

When a member of your Circle goes out hunting, try these safety tips in the Life360 app:

1) Add a Place to the location your friend or family member is headed. This uses Life360’s geo-fencing technology, so you’ll get an automatic alert when they arrive or leave that area.

2) Ask them to Check In when they arrive at a location they plan to stay. Then you can view easily on the map where they are, or set up a Places alert for that location and get notified when they leave.

3) As they move to other locations (such as a PokeStop with a Lure — an area where multiple Pokémon appear for 30 minutes), you can request a Check In when they arrive.

4) Use in-app messaging to share updates instantly with everyone in your Circle. Plan a meeting point to start your Hunt, or notify others in your group when you spot a rare Pokémon so they can rush to your location.


5) Parents can also create a Place alert for their home, to make sure their kids aren’t sneaking out without permission to play and to be automatically notified if that happens.

Aside from the safety benefits of using Life360 as a companion app to Pokémon GO, there are some other awesome uses we’ve discovered:

  • Use Life360 for what Pokémon GO lacks: a map where you can zoom and pan to view your favorite PokeStops and Gyms.
  • Add a Place pin to where you’ve battled your way to the top of a Gym. You can go back there later if you need to reclaim it.
  • Tell your friends where they can find Charmander, Pikachu, or Bulbasaur by dropping a Place pin in that location. They only show up in some areas and are very rare in others.
  • Check In at your favorite PokeStops, so you know when your team gets there so you can go back to the same places next time.
  • View all the places you’ve been hunting by pulling up your location history in Life360. Sometime’s it’s hard to remember where that hotspot is where you caught your best Pokémon for the night.
  • Want to achieve extra-elite expert-trainer level? Pokémon GO has already announced that they will release a new trading feature. Make a list of Pokémon you want or Pokémon you have up for trading. That list is automatically shared with your team. If each trainer makes their own trading list, you will be ahead of the game once the trading feature is released!

What apps are you using with your family and friends to make Pokemon Go Hunting better and more fun?

Major Life360 Updates! (3) new ways for busy families to feel safe, coordinate schedules, and stay connected

We’ve combined the most requested features with industry-leading Life360 location and safety tech into our largest update ever:

  1. Quick tap on “?” to request check-in.
  2. Quick tap on “heart” to say “glad you made it”.
  3. View current battery life for each device in your circle.
  4.  Still free! (Take a look at the new Life360 premium features)






Real Life360

Our hearts with 9 injured in Mon derailment in Sunol, CA. Relieved that passengers were able to use location to alert 1st responders. The Life360 family wishes all involved in the accident a speedy recovery.




After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the idea for Life360 was born from the realization that technology could have assisted response efforts and also allowed parents to better protect their families. 

Mobile technology has transformed how we communicate with one another and millions of families, caretakers, and member circles depend on Life360 multiple times a day to coordinate schedules, provide real-time location & automated place alerts, and connect us with those most important to us.  


Piper Teams Up With Life360 To Bring You ‘Smart Arming’

smartarmingPiper users are always looking for smart and efficient ways to protect their families and we at Piper are constantly researching and implementing improvements to make the Piper home security system better. Over the past few months we have introduced a slew of new products — including water sensors and connected light bulbs available through our Marketplace — that allow families to customize their Piper systems exactly to their needs. But there was still one thing missing: how to extend that security beyond the home.

That’s why we’re really excited to announce that we’ve teamed up with Life360, the premier family networking app, to secure Piper users in and out of the home with what we’re calling “Smart Arming.” With Piper and Life360, knowing that your home is safe as people in your Life360 circle come and go is now simple and easy to do.

Piper and Life360’s “Smart Arming” technology will be seamless for users. Piper notifies users when their systems are unarmed and no family members are detected in their homes through Life360’s geofencing technology. Users then simply tap the notification on their mobile device’s lock or home screen to set Piper to “away” mode, automatically arming their security device without having to open any apps. It is as simple as a tap of a button; you know that your home and family is safe while you are away.

We are proud to be revolutionizing the connected home alongside Life360, and we hope that you enjoy Piper and its customizable features as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it for you!


By Jason Domangue – VP of Piper Marketing, Icontrol Networks


When It’s More than Just a Bad Mood

teens and mental healthMay is Mental Health month, so we invited Yolanda M. Gordon from Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness to post about her daughter’s story.

This is an important topic that we all need to pay attention to in our children and loved ones.

She was thirteen when she began to spiral and I did not recognize the signs.  Her moods were all over the place and at first as a mom, I thought that it was just her being dramatic.  She in fact is a teenage girl and learning to navigate the eighth grade, friends, and boys.  Teens are prone to mood swings, correct?  My daughter came home from school one afternoon and informed me that she wanted to kill herself.  My whole world shattered.  This once lovely beautiful child was now deciding that she wanted to destroy the life I carried for nine months.  The baby that I rocked to sleep at night no longer wanted to live.  It was shocking because she went to bed a normal child and woke up someone different.

According to NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 11% of teens have been diagnosed with a mood disorder, including my daughter.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals from age 10-24 and 90% of the individuals that commit suicide had an underlying mental illness.  As a parent, I wanted to believe that my daughter was not crying out for help, but was crying for attention.  She was looking for attention from me because her brother and sister, who are both on the Autism Spectrum, were getting all the attention that she was not.  She became a person I no longer recognized and I agonized over her waking up every morning and of what she would do if she did not go to sleep at night, to include sneaking out of the house.  I would pray that she would go to sleep at night so I could rest my brain, but I never fully rested because I worried about her and her actions, and how they could affect her future.

The tipping point for us was when my daughter cut her arm.  Cutting is a form of self harm and when I unwittingly scheduled an appointment for her with a pediatrician for a flair in her eczema, we found the cuts on her left arm, each had a meaning, and she ended up in a mental health emergency room for observation over night.  I felt powerless and I felt as thought I had fallen down the rabbit hole.  I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t help my daughter.  I couldn’t reach her and I felt as though I had failed as a parent.  Autism I knew, mental health I did not.

She began to get treatment after she left the mental health emergency room and saw a counselor once a week.  I missed the signs of what was going on with her the entire time.  She was angry at her father about our divorce, she was looking for a father in any boy that would pay her some attention, depressed, and did not know how to express how she was feeling and the only way she could let me know she was suffering was by saying that she wanted to kill herself.  In my suffering, instead of comforting her and trying to find a way to help her, I did what I knew to do, rationalize with her, which does not work.  Anything would set her off and she was a ticking time bomb until she was put on the right medication cocktail.

I missed the signs, but I hope that my story can help your child before he or she gets too far out of your reach.  The important thing is to recognize the signs:

  • If your child feels very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks (i.e. crying regularly, feeling fatigued, feeling unmotivated).
  • Trying to harm or kill oneself or makes plans to do so.
  • He or she is out of control, exhibits risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or to others.
  • If he or she is suddenly overwhelmed by fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort, or fast breathing.
  • When he or she is not eating, throwing up or uses laxatives to lose weight and they have a significant loss or gain of weight.
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
  • If they have repeated drug and alcohol use.
  • Drastic changes in behavior, personality, or sleeping habits (as in wakes up early and acts agitated).
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to failure in school.
  • Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends or going to classes.

Talk to your pediatrician, get a referral to a mental health professional, ensure that you work with the school about what you are seeing at home and keep the lines of communication open, and connect with other families that are experiencing the same struggle.  Do not go it alone.  Find a local NAMI support group if you do not personally know someone that is experiencing what you and your child are experiencing.  I would also suggest talking to a counselor as well.  While your child is getting help, you should to.  I felt guilty that my daughter was behaving the way she was, but when I started talking to a counselor, I began to understand that her condition was not my fault.  Being a teenager is difficult, adding mental illness into the mix makes it worse.  Listen to your child, listen to your gut, and recognize the signs before it’s too late.



Why I gave my son a cell phone at 10 years old

hand holding phoneWe are excited to have guest poster Lucinda Watrous, sharing why she and her husband decided that ten was the right age to give their son his first cell phone.

As we shared on our Age of Independence survey, only 13% of surveyed parents thought that 7-10 was the right age for a first phone (11-14 years old made up the majority, with a total of 64% of responses) Today, Lucinda is sharing why they chose this age to get their son his first phone.

My son, who is now 11, got his first cell phone on his 10th birthday. Lots of people told me it was too soon – but let me tell you why, and how well it’s worked for us, and hopefully, you’ll agree with me.


For a year, we had a house phone through our cable company. It was part of a bundle that included TV and Internet, too, for about $100 a month. At the end of that year, the price of the bundle went up to $130, $30 of which was the phone.

Nobody ever called the house. When it rang, it was either a telemarketer blatantly breaking the Do Not Call List rules, a bill collector for someone who used to have the number, or a wrong number. If the caller wanted us, they called either mine or my husband’s cell phone… and the boy used my phone number to give to friends, since I work from home.

After some thought and some budget analysis, I realized it was $20 cheaper a month to just get the boy a line on our cell phone plan. We knew that he’d eventually be staying home alone, albeit for short periods of time, and only during daylight hours, but we needed him to have a line of communication to us.

Lessons in Responsibility and Trust

At 10 years old, you’re finally double digits, and you’re begging Mom and Dad for some trust. For us, a $20 flip phone was the perfect way to allow him to show us how responsible and trustworthy he could be.

We set some ground rules:

    • Phone goes with you to school (allowed where we are) but stays in bookbag during school hours.
    • Phone stays with Mom and Dad at night, so we know you’re sleeping and not texting.
    • Every phone number dialed must be in the contacts, and must be approved by either Mom or Dad.
    • If you get a call from a number you do not know – do not answer it. Tell Mom and Dad as soon as possible. Do not check the voicemail from unknown numbers unless Mom or Dad is present and can tell you what to do.
    • You lose it or break it, you pay for another one yourself.
    • Mom or Dad can go through your phone any time without warning. If you clear your call logs or text messages, you must let us look through them first, then tell us you’re doing it, so we don’t accuse you of hiding something.
    • We will look through the call log on the phone bill and question you if we see something funky.
    • Break the rules, lose the phone. It’s not yours. It’s on loan.

Over the course of a year he followed all the rules. He lost the phone once because it fell out of a pocket on some new pants he’d never worn before. He came in from school immediately and told me what happened. I called his phone. The bus driver answered, and said he’d keep the phone safe. Thankfully, a student turned it in. Since it was the last day of school before Spring Break, his punishment was going without the phone until he went back to school.

The Smartphone Upgrade

Right before he turned 11, we changed carriers to save money. I wasn’t really ready for him to get a smartphone, but since we opted for a carrier where there were no free phones (everyone pays the same price for the phone regardless) it again, made financial sense (there aren’t really many “dumb” phones left out there) and gave him another chance to show responsibility and trust.

While his dad and I opted for the Galaxy S5, he said he wanted a Windows Phone (and he wasn’t getting a top-of-the-line smartphone anyway). I bought his phone outright, a refurb, for $50 – the cheapest phone available at the time.

We again, sat down and set some ground rules, but since the phone knows he’s under 13, and our carrier has tools, too, it’s been a little easier. Features like Cortana are not usable because of his age, through Microsoft. I’ve got Internet filters on his phone via our carrier, and there’s no way for him to bypass them.

In addition to the rules we already had in place:

  • We no longer keep the phone at night, but you use your phone’s alarm to wake yourself in the morning and get ready for school. Mom’s done being your alarm. (I have an alarm set, and if he doesn’t notify me he’s up at a certain time, I can go wake him, but I haven’t had to yet.)
  • No app downloads without prior approval.
  • No paid app downloads at all, unless you get prior approval and give me the money from your allowance.
  • No using data off Wi-Fi without permission.
  • You can lock your phone, but Mom or Dad must know the code to unlock it.

He’s had the smartphone for almost four months, and he’s followed every rule. It’s been great for all of us.

Do your kids have a cell phone? If not, what age will you give them one?