When I was the same age as my eldest child, I was walking home from school on my own and letting myself in the house with my own key. Afternoons were spent riding my bike, the only rule being that we had to be back before dinner. But times have changed and while I would very much like to give my kids more freedom and more independence, I still need to know they are safe. My eleven-year-old, ever the opportunist, suggested that I buy him a mobile phone so that he could walk home from school and “…just call if there’s a problem…”. Nice try. Although this new gadget may just be the thing that suits both parents and kids.
The Filip is a revolutionary communications and location device, designed specifically to keep children and parents in touch. It came about after Sten Kirkback lost his then three-year-old son Flip in a shopping mall in Norway for thirty nail-biting minutes. After that experience, Sten set out to create something to link parents and kids, while still allowing older children the freedom to explore.
The Filip combines the functionality of a mobile phone with a GPS location tracker. The device lets children call up to five preselected phone numbers with the touch of a button and receive incoming calls and text messages from pre-approved people. The restricted service removes common concerns associated with kids and mobile phones such as exposure to social media, unrestricted access to the internet and, of course, the cost of using a phone.
The Filip also incorporates a sophisticated GPS app that allows parents to see where their children are at all times. The app also allows parents to set ‘safety zones’ – designated geographical areas, for example the area between your home and school. A text message alert is sent to the parent’s smartphone if their child enters or leaves a designated safety zone. For example, I would be able to see if my son was walking straight home after school or if he detoured to an ‘out of zone’ park or the shops.
The designers of the device, Filip Technologies, are currently working with several global carriers to make the Filip available although it is expected this year. We will let you know as soon as it hits the Australian market.