Hearty phone compatible with Dexcom G6
May 29, 2023 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I need a phone for my 10 year old that is compatible with Dexcom g6 (app for BG monitoring for type 1 diabetes), with other needs inside.

I truly only want recommendations for a phone and not ideas on how to incentivize my child taking better care of their phone.

My 10 year old has type 1 diabetes and a major part of how we manage it especially at school is through the whole Dexcom family of products. They have the Dexcom G6 app, which reads their blood sugar via a sensor on their body on their phone, and shares it with my phone (and the school nurse's) via a different app. The Dexcom G6 app is the non-negotiable here, and this is the list of compatible phones. It's possible they'll use the G7 at some point as well but for the foreseeable future, but I feel like that's at least a year off (due to FDA and insurance issues).

The other things we need in a phone are:
--Robustness. They've gone through a huge number of phones since their diagnosis. Mostly cracked screens (yes, we have an Otterbox and other hardcore cases) and most recently dropped in water. If the answer to this is that we just need to budget an additional couple hundred dollars to buying new phones several times a year, so be it; we'll treat it like a medical expense, but I feel like there's got to be a better phone than what we're using.
--Probably related to the first point, we need to be able to lock it down, with few apps being available to them. We've been using Pixel products for the last two years or so and for reasons not really worth getting into, the parent controls on these products are a mess, and hard for us (their parents) to manage. It's either total lockdown (in which case getting the Dexcom g6 app on the phone is impossible) or a freeforall. I suspect there is a lot of touching and getting out the phone constantly, which increases likelihood of it being dropped or broken. Yes, yes, we've tried to impart the importance of thinking of this phone as a medical device.
--I know that iphones have good parental controls although neither me nor their dad have iphone, which added a lot of extra steps to managing them. Kid's first phone was an iphone but there were slightly annoying issues due to not being an iphone family, which is why we moved to Android but would make this work again if we needed to.
--The phone also needs to communicate with a Garmin smart watch. We got this a few months ago to hopefully limit the amount of messing with the phone during the school day--they could just read their blood sugar on their wrist. We also need the phone to be able to receive texts and calls.

To recap, from this list, what is the best option for a 10 year old who probably has ADHD, drops and breaks things constantly, and is a whiz at somehow using it to watch Twitch steamers despite me being pretty sure I disabled that.
posted by Ideal Impulse to Technology (4 answers total)
Slightly oblique suggestion from a school nurse: every elementary school child who is successful at keeping phone and Dexcom body device together in the schools I staff has either a cross-body or waist-encircling pouch for the phone, which they wear constantly. Some parents attach a short leash to the phone case and the pouch, which could help with some hazards, like dropping it in a toilet. From my perspective, of course, if the phone is lost, left at home or broken the kid graduates to a finger stick in my office - they still get appropriate care.

Can Dexcom help with the lockdown/app access issue? Surely this is a common and frustrating problem for parents of kids your child's age.
posted by citygirl at 11:15 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

If the answer to this is that we just need to budget an additional couple hundred dollars to buying new phones several times a year, so be it; we'll treat it like a medical expense, but I feel like there's got to be a better phone than what we're using.

I am the parent of a child with ADHD and T1D who is also hard on phones.

Touching anything Apple has sold in the last twenty years always leaves me feeling like scrubbing my hands with carbolic soap. In particular, I loathe and detest iOS and its accompanying swarm of dongles to an extent that frankly makes me sound unhinged if somebody gets me started. And yet, at our house we just kept on buying refurb iPhones and Apple Watches, paying to get their screens repaired and upgrading them as they died, until she turned 18. She buys her own refurb Apple devices now.

Living with type 1 plus ADHD is just absurdly hard and I think the best medtech you can get is whatever they don't hate to begin with. The Dexcom app is such a brutal fucking nag, and the G6 sensor and transmitter such relentless encumbrances, that they they're going to be driven to hating all their tech eventually so it's important that they have some degree of attachment to at least some of it beforehand.

And although it makes me incredibly sad to see just how much social credit kids gain from being able to flash Apple's overpriced shit around at school instead of the less prestigious Android alternatives, the fact remains that they do. Apple makes The Good Stuff in the eyes of most kids I know. I mean it's obviously not the good stuff, just a slick casing over poor engineering, but peer group credit is about image, not reason, and Apple's kid-manipulative marketing has been viciously effective.

I still don't want an iPhone anywhere near me, though; ms flabdablet and I both run Dexcom Follow on cheap and cheerful Android phones (each of us has an Umidigi A7S bought for AU$100 each on eBay and they've been fine.)

Closest we ever got to doing the parental controls thing was setting up a separate SSID on the house wifi for kids' phones and having the wireless access point enable that on a schedule, and buying cheap phone plans with data allowances that streaming video would burn through quickly. We stopped doing that when she was fourteen, and if I had my time over again I wouldn't have bothered with any of it because all it really achieved was making it harder to build the kind of trusting, non-adversarial, collaborative relationship that we now have.

To my way of thinking, us ending up as the people kiddo wants to come to first when life throws the tricky shit their way far outweighs the downsides of excessive screen time. We've got there by talking stuff through instead of laying down the law, having found that laying down the law just puts up walls that need a lot of extra work to take down again.

That said, I understand from other parents who do use these things that the iOS ones work better than Android's and if I understand correctly the setup can be done on the phone itself so you don't have to sink your entire house into the Apple tarpit.
posted by flabdablet at 11:43 AM on May 29

I'm surprised that the Pixel phone parental controls are bad, my kid of a similar age has a Samsung Android phone and I've found the Google parental controls to be pretty good. When I was setting the phone up originally I was able to block installation of new apps without my permission, block certain default apps from being used at all, etc. In any case, I've had Samsung phones for a while and I've found them reasonably robust with a half-decent case. They're also waterproof.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:25 PM on May 29

>Some parents attach a short leash to the phone case and the pouch, which could help with some hazards, like dropping it in a toilet.

I can't comment on the phone model or locking down the phone software, but adding one of those retractable lassos and hooking it to a backpack or fanny pack (which are popular nowadays) definitely helps reduce loss/breakage. Assuming your kid doesn't want to break the phone, and is just hapless. (source me - adult with ADHD with a different health monitor linked with phone who has dropped/lost so. many. phones.).
posted by bluefly at 10:21 AM on May 30

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