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By Brooke Shannon

This post originally appeared on Wait Until 8th and is re-published with permission. Wait Until 8th empowers parents to delay giving children smartphones until at least 8th grade. Currently the average age a child receives a smartphone is 10 years old despite the many distractions and dangers that comes with this technology. Join more than 23,000 parents by signing the pledge today.

The iPhone is at the top of most children’s wish list. Some kids refuse to put anything else on it declaring, “all I want for Christmas is an iPhone.”

Nostalgia is heavy for lists overflowing with requests for Barbies, Batman figures, Legos and Hot Wheels. When did our kids stop being kids and start asking for gadgets designed for adults? And how can we be the Christmas hero but hold the line on granting the smartphone wish?

Strategy one: Pitch alternative communication devices. 

There are more ways to get in touch than the latest iPhone. Consider one of these tech-wise options to keep the iPhone at bay.

Relay by Republic Wireless 

Relay is a screen-free, push-to-talk phone that works with 4G LTE and WiFi. It combines instant, nationwide communication with GPS tracking and geofencing. Parents control who can contact children and what features they use. The Relay device is available at Target and Amazon for a little under $50 per device normally and right now on sale for $24.99.

Gizmo Watch 

The Gizmo Watch provides two-way voice calling and messaging with up to 10 trusted contacts of your choice. Parents can check the location of the Gizmo Watch from their own smartphone and even set GPS boundaries and receive automated alerts when a child exceeds them. The waterproof watch also includes a fitness tracker and a to-do list to manage chores and homework. Prices vary. Check out Verizon Wireless and Best Buy to purchase.

The Jitterbug Flip

The Jitterbug is an old-school flip phone with no access to the internet. No apps can be downloaded either. The phone is durable with a long-lasting battery life. Kids can call, text and take pictures on it.

Light Phone 2

The Light Phone 2 is exactly what parents have been looking for in a phone for their kids.  With its chic design, it has a “cool factor” beyond any basic phone without all the garbage that comes with a sleek smartphone.   The Light Phone 2 will never have feeds, social media, advertisements, news or email. The phone simply includes calling, texting, music, an alarm clock, and a calendar.

The only bummer is that the next availability for pre-orders is March 15th, 2020, as they’ve sold out of their current batch of phones. Wrap up an IOU and promise your kids they will enjoy their Light Phone 2 around spring break.

Z1 Gabb Phone 

Gabb Wireless is new to town and they are on a mission to protect children, connect families and encourage life outside the screen. They’ve designed the Z1 Gabb phone without the internet or an app store. Kids can call, text and have access to a basic suite of essentials limited to a calculator, calendar and alarm. There are no games or social media. The phone does have a camera but kids can’t receive or send text messages with pictures in the message. Group text messages also are not allowed. The phone is $99 and the monthly service plan is 19.99.

Strategy 2: Ditch the gadgets and make the Christmas wish list device free

Are you convinced your child can make it another Christmas without any gadgets? Your best play here is to get creative and encourage some outside-the-box Christmas wishes.

Go for Experiences! 

The best gifts are often ones involving rich experiences. Thrill your crew with indoor skydiving from iFLY or challenge them with a Lockout Escape room adventure. Research what bands are coming to town in 2020, and take your teen and a friend to see their favorite group. Is your kid a foodie? Compile an assortment of gift cards to the hottest new restaurants or buy some gourmet cooking lessons to do together. See below for Sarasota specific recommendations

Bring on adventure! 

From white water rafting to skiing to rock climbing, most kids love a good adventure. Talk with your kid to see what would be fun to do together or with a group of friends as a Christmas gift. Push your kiddo outside of the comfort zone to try something new such a mountain biking, scuba diving or stand up paddle boarding.

Make their room special! 

From a yoga swing or a hanging chair to a cinema light box, there are lots of special gifts to update your child’s bedroom. Spruce up their space with a large knot pillow, bean bag, geo moon light sculpture ,diffuser or a cool pouf.

Encourage creativity! 

Musical instruments, building manipulatives, and even the dreaded slime kit can all bring creativity to our kids’ day. Consider these gifts to encourage creativity and keep screen time in check: ukulele, digital piano, electronic drum set, glow-in-the-dark magna tiles, magformers, magnetic building block construction set, Zendoodle’s detailed coloring book for older kids and the ultimate slime kit. Another great idea is a subscription to KiwiCo. They deliver monthly hands-on science and art projects for kids up to 16.

Get them moving!

We love gifts that keep our kids active. If you can swing a splurge, adding a Gaga Ball Pit to your backyard is a game changer for outside play. Other active items to wrap up under the tree include a skateboard, scooter or Pogo stick.

Game on! 

There are some terrific board games to play with the family or friends. Challenge young minds with Set or Jokers. If you have a video gamer in the house, check out the Monopoly Fornite Board Game (ages 13 & up). Mexican Train and CodeNames are both great crowd pleasers and fun to play in big groups.

Keep up with the trends!  

From Hydro Flasks to jade rollers to bubble tea, don’t forget the trendy must haves! Flashback to the 90s with a fanny pack  or combat boots to score points with your tween. Stuff their stockings with favorite brands such Glossier makeup, Under Armour or Starbucks.

Stay strong, parents! You can avoid the iPhone under the Christmas tree and instead give your kids another year filled with experience, creativity, adventure and play!

For those local to Sarasota, there are many incredible organizations that can provide nourishing experiences for your children or family: Prospect Riding Center provides hands-on”Whole Horse Education” for all ages in their recreational riding program, Suncoast Science Center provides students memberships and classes designed to foster exploration of incredible scientific tools and encourage tinkering. 

We are incredibly lucky to have such a rich network of non-profits in the area that promote nature and sustainability. Mote Marine Aquarium, The Children’s Garden, Crowley Museum and Nature Center, and Bishop Museum all offer family memberships to enjoy all year long!  

Give the gift of adventure at Tree Umph, Pirates of Cortez, or Mangrove tunnel kayak tours.

For our community specifically, we highly encourage gifts that help support your child’s nature exploration and experience!  Things like binoculars, camping gear, such as chairs, sleeping bags, or dinnerware, Florida specific nature guides are all supportive to your budding naturalist’s practices all year long!

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By Brooke Shannon This post originally appeared on Wait Until 8th and is re-published with permission. Wait Until 8th empowers...

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