Phone & Filter

Dear ScreenStrong Families,

At our seminars, parents regularly ask me if there is a non-data phone we recommend for kids. While we believe your child will be just fine without a phone to function in their everyday life (at least till about 15!), we understand that many parents desire a good alternative to a smartphone. A good alternative in our book does not have internet access. At all.

Over the years, we have researched many options and still stand by our recommendation for a Gabb phone through the end of high school. We also recommend Canopy as the best filter for all your devices—phones, tablets, laptops, Chromebooks, etc.

A phone that your child will want to use LESS, not more. 

We know there are other phone options oriented to kids that have more apps and claim to have the phone that “grows with your child,’’ but that is not the goal of ScreenStrong. We want a phone that is only a tool and not a toy for a child or teen. Your child does not need to develop phone habits when young by accessing games, stores, or even reminder apps to brush their teeth and walk the dog. We believe that no child needs an app for those things, they need to use their brains instead.

So the Gabb basic phone or the voice/text-only flip phone at Verizon will work fine for the occasional text to Mom when baseball gets canceled. These phones avoid the most significant problems—unlimited internet and social media access—that research shows can open the door to addictive screen habits and poor emotional health. We also don’t recommend that any child needs the media sharing function—sending and receiving photos or participating in group texts—even for the Gabb phone. Just choose the basic plan at checkout.

What about a filter? Our first choice is a filter that stops images and videos BEFORE your child sees them. Many parental control companies send you reports of what your child has seen. That isn’t good enough for us. Our goal is to eliminate the unwanted content at the start. That is why we love Canopy. It uses AI to block the images BEFORE your child sees them if you have Canopy on your devices. That is a win!

What about stripping down an old smartphone? We know it is hard to resist, but we do not recommend trying to strip down an old smartphone, especially an iPhone. Apple products, universally, are the most difficult to lock down, install parental controls, or filter. Parents think this works, but it usually only works for a short time. Our experience working in this space for nearly ten years reinforces this recommendation. 

This option will work for a very short time. The temptation is too great; your child will find workarounds. You can google them, too. It is best not to have the option. Most screen problems we encounter with parents are with families who have tried this. Trust us. 

A solution that goes past 18. Read the fine print of the company you are researching. Many of the popular companies are only available for kids under 18. Since the need for guardrails does not stop at 18, we recommend a filtering service that will last past 18. Canopy is one of the best solutions we have found. It blocks unwanted images before they arrive on your device and it does not collect your data, so it is perfect for teens and adults alike. 

This is why we love Canopy. 

Good news! We have your back!

Use our promo code STRONG to get a discount on your Gabb phone and Canopy service. Every purchase using our promo code will support our education programs and empower all parents to develop a healthy digital lifestyle for their children.

If you have any questions about our endorsement of these products, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Melanie Hempe

Founder of ScreenStrong

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