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Buddy Bear Phone

 Buddy Bear Phone Available now
26th October 2005
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The Buddy Bear Phone is a simplified GSM handset aimed at children in the 3-10 years old range, or perhaps more accurately aimed at the parents of children of that age range.

Perhaps calling it a mobile phone is misleading - the Buddy Bear is more of a hybrid between a baby monitor and an ultra-simple cellphone. The Buddy Bear can only dial four pre-programmed numbers, or send a pre-programmed SMS message to four different recipients.

As you look at the phone, the left hand side of the bear's snout area is the on/off button, with a call/receive button to its right. The four paws to call different recipients, and there's a SOS button on either side of the bear's head. The speaker is just about the nose and between the eyes, with the Buddy Bear's microphone between the bottom feet. There are also connections for a USB cable, power connector and headset on the bottom of the bear. For added cuteness, LEDs flash in the bear's ears when it receives a call. There's no screen on the Buddy Bear which reduces cost and is one less thing to break.

 Buddy Bear Controls The Buddy Bear can be remotely controlled by parents who can block the phone with a PIN number if it is lost or stolen. It can also be turned into a remote baby monitor, so parents can listed to what is going on in their handset's vicinity without their child knowing. Parents can also remotely control the Buddy Bear's settings and will get an SMS if the handset gets a low battery.

Presumably parents will need to exercise some sort of moral judgement as to when it is appropriate to listen in on their child and the events going on around it. One could speculate that the Buddy Bear makes a pretty good evesdropping device in general, and it's possible this could be mis-used.

It's a dual band GSM phone, so this will work on European networks. There's a USB cable connector on the bottom of the Buddy Bear to allow for customisation, and it will also take a standard wired headset. The phone is either remotely programmed from another mobile handset or via the USB cable. Buddy Bear's distibutors also say that the handset has a very low SAR rating and is paint-free for added safety.

Is it a good idea to give phones to children of this age? Again, we think this is a judgement that parents should think about carefully after taking into account the varous research covering mobile phone emissions in the vicinity of young children. Also, the controls look a little complex to use from our perspective, but then children can usually pick these things up carefully.

The Buddy Bear is disributed by DealMakers BV of the Netherlands for around 130. Dutch mobile provider Scarlet has already agreed to distribute the device.

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