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Insights & Trends 6 min read

These parents refused to give their kids smartphones – until they found Gabb

A group of high school students using their cellphones

In a world where compulsive smartphone use is on the rise, how do parents choose between giving their children freedom and keeping them safe?

“I think Addi thought she needed a phone when she maybe turned eight or nine years old,” said Kim Rodela of Highland, Utah, talking about her daughter. “I’ve seen how kids have gotten addicted to phones. I basically wanted to hold it off for as long as possible.”

“My husband and I looked all over and we were like, ‘What phones are out there that just have text and calls?’”

Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives, offering unparalleled convenience and connectivity. However, alongside their benefits, there's a concerning trend emerging: the rise of digital addiction, particularly among younger generations.

According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, 95% of American teenagers have a smartphone, and nearly half of them say they use the internet “almost constantly” — roughly double the amount ten years ago.

For father-of-four Russ Bezzant, having his kids race dirt bikes felt a lot safer than having a smartphone, but his family needed a way to keep in contact. After his wife Missy’s idea of flip phones was promptly rejected by their eldest son and daughter - on the grounds that it was too hard to text on them - a friend told them about Gabb.

“I looked into it and I was impressed,” said Missy. “There was no group chat, no social media and no images that they could send or receive.”

Gabb Maps Kid Safe Navigation

Gabb Maps uses HERE SDK (Software Development Kit) to develop a customized in-app map and routing solution that removes age-inappropriate content and keeps kids' online safety in mind. 


Gabb is the first-ever US-wide cellular network that is dedicated to kid-safe technology. With a line-up of products that includes the Gabb Phone and the Gabb Watch, the Utah-based tech company has also developed a suite of child-friendly apps including Gabb Messenger, Gabb Music and now, Gabb Maps.

Joining forces with HERE, Gabb Maps uses HERE SDK to combine easy-to-use navigation with fresh and accurate data while removing content that makes many parents uncomfortable. This could be anything from user-generated content (such as explicit photo reviews), embedded web browsers that can act as a backdoor to the internet, location sharing and ads.

Deploying smart-filtering technology, Gabb Maps also blocks phone numbers, websites and store hours for all adult-only businesses, like liquor stores. For even more peace of mind, it doesn’t collect kids’ data (except in an anonymous format to improve the navigation function of the app. Kids’ data is never sold to third parties).

“The beautiful thing about the Gabb Phone is that it looks like a smartphone, it seems like it’s what everybody else is carrying around school, yet my son is not completely influenced by the toxic dangers of what a cell phone would typically bring,” said Orlando property management specialist and Gabb fan Zane Hansen.

His wife Fallon agrees: “I feel like at his age especially, they’re in junior high now, we need to be able to get in contact with them. But we don’t want to give them the phone because we don’t want them to be more interested in the screen.”

Digital dangers

A few staggering statistics from Gabb’s website that underline the importance of a balanced approach to smartphone use:

5 hours:

the average daily amount of time American children ages 8 – 12 spend watching or using screens.

1.2 years:

the average amount of time American teens between 13 – 18 will spend on social media.

1 in 3:

kids will become a victim of cyberbullying


“Kids' digital safety was the number one priority when rolling out Gabb Maps and we wanted to be sure to create a solution that was safe for kids and didn’t collect or share any of their personal data,” said Isaac Jacobson, SVP of Strategic Partnerships and Services at Gabb. “This unique offering gives kids the ability to use the location services everyone has come to expect on phones, without exposing them to any of the dangerous content from age-inappropriate businesses or users.”

Gabb Maps contains other useful features to help children navigate their surroundings including custom routing for pedestrians and cyclists that recognizes walkways, stairs, and ramps; traffic conditions with written directions so that teens can avoid things like construction, accidents, and busy roads; and an accurate GPS locator so kids don’t get lost.

Kids' digital safety was the number one priority when rolling out Gabb Maps

Isaac Jacobson

SVP of Strategic Partnerships and Services, Gabb

While Gabb’s kid-safe phones and watches are currently only available in the United States, the company plans on launching its suite of apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store soon, allowing parents in other countries to have more control over their children’s online access.

Shortly after buying the Gabb Phone for her daughter, Rodela ran for Highland City Council. “I’ve got four kids under the age of 11 – it was a crazy summer,” she admitted. “I would send Addi with her friends, with the other kids. I’d be out and we’d be knocking on doors and passing out flyers. I am so grateful to Gabb for coming up with this idea, just to keep Addi younger for a little bit longer.

“That’s how we were able to get through this summer of craziness. And you know, in the end, it worked – Addi helped win me my campaign.”

Louis Boroditsky

Louis Boroditsky

Managing Editor, HERE360

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