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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Smartphones are an inevitability, but how we use them is not predetermined. Phones keep us on track, help us connect with others and enable us to learn about the world around us, but they’re also incredibly addictive. We can teach our children to unlock the good in smartphones without getting sucked into the bad by building a thoughtful experience and changing the business model to not profit on monetizing child attention.

    We believe that healthy technology consumption, much like food consumption, is best taught early. Pinwheel is the ideal first smartphone for elementary age kids because it fosters curiosity while building good phone habits from the start and providing a sense of relief for caregivers in the process.

    Pinwheel is the first smartphone & operating system purpose-built to foster healthy life-long tech habits in kids. It's 100% tool and 0% toy, but still has things kids love. 

    Pinwheel was developed by therapists, technologists, and parents on a mission to promote social and emotional health in a world saturated by technology that tends to do the opposite.

    Other options simply “dumb down” adult smartphones to make them "safe" (but not beneficial) for kids.

    Pinwheel is intended as an introductory mobile experience for kids 6-15. It grows with the child, giving them what they need as tech tools appropriate to the stage—but never crossing the line from tool into toy.

    No, it really isn't. It's just not a minimalist phone, because it's a kid phone built around a partnership between child and parent.

    1. You can't order pizza, call the pharmacy, get a system notification text, or get a call from a job offer, unless they're already on the safelist.

    2. Adding an app to a Pinwheel phone isn't a piece of cake. Each one requires lots of qualification, upload, and testing. We've found adults want most of Pinwheel apps and then a couple obscure banking apps, for example, and they often don't quite work on Pinwheel and really cost our efforts that are focused on kids instead.

    We salute you, and recommend the light phone!

    Check out our pricing page:

    Mission-driven therapists, technologists and parents. Find out more about our team here.

    Product Questions

    Pinwheel is built to change modes throughout the day, to match with a child’s natural daily rhythm.

    Think Morning Mode, School Mode, Night Mode, Free Play Mode, and any other mode you want!

    A mode sets which apps are available, who from the safelist may be contacted, and what tasks are required.

    An operating system is the platform that powers your phone. Most adult phones use either iOS by Apple or Android by Google as their operating system. Neither of these was designed for kids.

    Pinwheel is a fork of the pure open-source Android project, below the level where all the Google stuff was added. That means Pinwheel is compatible out-of-the-box with most software out there already developed for Android. Our curation team is hand-selecting only the best software partners that agree with our philosophy to add their existing software to our ecosystem.

    No. Pinwheel includes connected discovery software so that your child can discover and satiate their endless curiosity (think encyclopedia). However, it does not include a traditional internet browser. 

    No. Our certified child therapist advisors have reiterated the dangers of social media and the many issues arising from its use amongst our youth. Our tools make it easy for kids to communicate with their parent-approved network of contacts in authentic ways. 

    A smartphone is a special piece of technology. It's like our appendage. It's a piece of us. As such, it should be carefully considered. Pinwheel doesn't have these things at all on the platform. They just aren't available.

    It's not that gaming and shows are all terrible (we like Star Wars as much as anyone!), it's that their overuse can keep us from achieving our goals and from connecting authentically with others. Let's teach our kids to use their smartphone as a tool, not as a numbing device. Let them access appropriate video content or fun gaming with friends or family at your discretion on other platforms, but let's keep their smartphone habits clean.

    We recommend beating the original Legend of Zelda on a retro gaming device together with your kids across several Saturday nights... trust us, it's a fun bonding experience :) 

    Your child cannot break into the open internet just because you forgot some silly setting, or an app updated and your control software didn’t, or they figured out your password to the device.

    If they got your password to the device, the most they could do is cancel their to dos and allow more healthy apps! No worries. :)


    Yes, Pinwheel works on the Verizon network with the Slim model, not the Rugged model. In checkout you'll have to pay a little more because manufacturing a Verizon-compatible phone costs more!

    You can get a plan with ATT, T-Mobile, Verizon, and their derivative discount providers. Here's our ever-increasing list:

    Pinwheel is just as safe on any carrier, including our plan, because Pinwheel software runs at the operating system level. All that a carrier is providing is your number, location, a SIM, and a connection for messages and calls, but Pinwheel controls all access and use of the apps that do those things!