Previously I mentioned that my wife and I regretted getting smart devices for our kids.  It is great to be able to get in touch with the kids when they are at some event or a friends house but does it need to be a smartphone with unlimited apps to monitor? Smartphones can be good, but they can also open a world of chat fights, cyberbullying, and drama, drama, drama! Did I mention drama!

We decided the answer for us was no smartphones. We opted for an old-style flip phone instead.  One advantage is that the battery lasts for several days, but yea, the kids aren’t going to be too excited about that.  As for phone services, there are lots of options out there, but a few years ago I discovered a company called Ting ($25 Discount Link).  

Ting does have some nice things going for them.  First, there is no contract so you can start and stop the service whenever you want.  Second, you only pay for what you use.  So as of this writing, it costs $6 a month to have a phone on the plan and you pay for talk minutes, text messages, and data based on how much you use.  

The third thing I like about Ting is the control you have over minutes, texts, and data.  So we set up a flip phone for calls and nothing else.   On the Ting website, I disabled texting and data usage and I set alerts on talk minutes to keep that from getting out of hand.  When the phone gets to 400 minutes I get a warning and just before 500 minutes, I have a rule that automatically shuts off talk minutes.  Just like that, I can turn services on and off for this phone whenever I want from the Ting website.  I can also see who called and when and how long they talked.  Another great thing is that I pay less than $20 a month for this service.  Below is an example of a usage rule on the Ting webpage.

An Example of Ting alert being used to suspend voice after 480 minutes.

Of course, you don’t have to get a flip phone. Ting has lots of options for phones you can choose from and you may be able to use one of your existing mobile phones with the Ting plan. You can call them at 1-855-999-7266 or do an online chat from their website. They were very helpful when I contacted them with questions.

Ting may not be for you if you plan on having very heavy usage. Since it is not an unlimited plan you do pay for all your phone minutes, texts, and data. Ting has a nice little tool that will give you a esimate on monthly cost based your own usage information. Check out the tool here.

I know there are hundreds of options out there.  Perhaps you have something just as good or even better.  If you do give me the details in the comments and I will post it.

This option of using a simple phone with limited options has simplified our lives, but if it is not for you no problem.  We will be looking at other options as we continue to explore screen management in our following posts.

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