Buddy Bear Phone
26th October 2005
handset in our forum
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.
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
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this handset in our forums