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  • The MG: Smartphone for Little Ones
Technology Articles > Cell Phones > Others > The MG: Smartphone for Little Ones

Admit it: you are one of those parents who, to save your sanity and the sanity of those around you, hands over your smartphone to your child in line at the grocery store. It's amazing how the high-tech gadget puts an end to candy grabbing and incessant whining, but kids touching your smartphone adds up to nicks, scratches, and greasy smudge marks all over the screen.

PlayMG has developed a device just for young kids who beg to play Angry Birds and other Android games on a constant basis, who usually are just too young to own their very own phone. Parents can reclaim their device, and assure that it remains damage and fingerprint free.

How Does It Work?

The MG is a 4-inch oval-shaped handheld device with a 1GHz Cortex A5 processor, 4GB of internal storage which is expandable to 32GB using a MicroSD, and 1GB DDR3 RAM. It has a WiFi radio and your standard smartphone sensors such as a compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer. This is all your child needs to play games to their heart's content.

PlayMG spoke to numerous children who use a Nintendo 3DS but wish for a phone just like their parents before creating the MG. It is super simple, and designed with these kids in mind. It cannot make calls, nor does it have a camera, and the only buttons it features control the volume and power.

App Purchasing Peace of Mind

The MG will have preinstalled games such as NBA Jam and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, giving the kids options right out of the box. If they must have Angry Birds, they can head to the Google Play store and download it with their parents' money. If that sounds a bit scary, don't worry: PlayMG has you covered. They created a family collaboration app that works with a service such as BillMyParents, in which the parent can place a set amount of money – an allowance, if you will – that the kids can spend. It's not MG's exclusive service, but they did create the in-app management system.

The MG's home screen features a widget the child can access to view their account balance, and the parents receive notifications each time the child makes a purchase, making it easy to monitor what they are buying and playing. If an inappropriate app is downloaded, the parent has the power to lock down his or her account via text message. This app also shows parents how much time is being spent on the deice, which games are played, and more. This allows the child to feel as if their parents trust them, while the parent can verify from the sidelines that the child is following the rules and making good decisions.

In Engadget testing, they determined it was simple to view usage information and account balance. They liked the metagame included called MG Origins, where the children select a robot avatar and complete a series of missions, which teaches them how to properly use the device and how to navigate in the Google Play store. The company plans to introduce games in the future that use this same avatar.

Price and Availability

The MG should be available this holiday season for the price tag of $170, but if you head to Kickstarter, you can pre-order one for $99. For those parents who are sick of handing over their phone so their child can play Angry Birds only to find out they've opened up the internet or made a pricey in-app purchase without their authorization, this is the perfect solution.