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Best Cell Phones for Kids

Updated on August 21, 2014

Thinking about A Kids Cell Phone?

There are hundreds of millions of cell phones in the US. The vast majority of us own one; allowing us to stay in contact, providing a sense of security and immediacy, and giving us really cool features like watching TV, video, sharing pictures, enjoying music, accessing the internet, and much more.

Kids too are attracted to these small, useful, yet entertaining gadgets.

However, before a parent jumps in to buy a kids cell phone there are a few things they should consider.

Why Consider Cell Phones for Kids?

The right cell phone and the right cell phone plan does offer additional security for your child.

Here are a few examples:

Cell phones provide easy 911 access. Cell phones can provide quick communication between parents and their children. Some kids cell phones and plans provide a GPS locator function to help parents keep track of their children. Many kids just really, really want one and at some point you may decide to give in.

What Are The Disadvantages and Dangers of Cell Phones for Kids?

There are a number of concerns parents may have about giving a cell phone to kids.

Kids aren't likely to track their talk time. Exceeding the plan limits and ending up with an exorbitant bill isn't uncommon. Going beyond texting limits is particularly problematic with older kids. Providing a child with a cell phone that has video/photo capabilities and web access can expose them to content that parents might otherwise restrict. Spyware, predators, bullies, and spammers. Younger children, and less savvy kids may not be aware of such dangers. Kids need to be taught about communicating/interacting appropriately online and on their cell phone. "Don't talk to strangers" is still a valid rule.

Finding the Best Cell Phone for Kids, Kids Cell Phone Plans, and Protection

First, before you panic, realize:

Cell phones designed for the youngest children often accept calls only from a list programmed in by the parents and restrict who a child may call. This is the best defense against predators, spam, and bullies. Cell phones designed for the youngest kids generally are not video capable or web enabled eliminating the risk of exposure to inappropriate content. Some kids cell phone plans allow parents to place limits on talk time, downloads, purchases and text messaging; for instance AT&T's Smart Controls and T-Mobile's Family Allowances. Many providers also assist in blocking messages, e-mails and so forth. You can see an example of this with T-Mobile or even Verizon. Kajeet offers plans that allow time restrictions to be set up; when the phone can and can't be used for calling and texting, as well as restrictions as to who can and can't call or text the phone. The Kajeet phones offer kids the games, ringtones, and other features they want but require no long term contract. The various cellular providers offer prepaid cell plans which allow parents to put a limit on talk/texting time. In addition, there are prepaid providers such as TracFone, NET10, MetroPCS, and Cricket Communications which help control spending and offer basic/affordable phones.Prepaid phones are often good for older kids/teenagers who can have fewer restrictions but need limits on spending. Increasingly there is software available that can help parents monitor cell phone activity if necessary.Parents need to: Learn about the risks; there are links provided below to assist. Provide young children with an appropriate kids cell phone to minimize exposure to any threats. You can see our suggestions on this page.Consider the parental controls available with any cell phone plan/service that is selected. See AT&T Smart Limits, Alltel Axcess Web Parental Controls, Axcess Family Finder, Sprint Family Locator and Sprint Parental Control

services as examples. All cellular providers offer parental controls of some type.

Consider purchasing additional software as needed for added security.

What Software Can Help Parents Protect Kids with Cell Phones?

RADAR, is one example. It is a product made available by mymobilewatchdog.com. This software allows parents to develop an approved contact list, monitor calls, emails, text and instant messages, and even alerts parents to suspicious activity. As an example, RADAR can alert adults to spyware that might be tracking an unsuspecting user.

"Mobile Guardian" offered by Boston Communications Group (bcgi.net) is another option. It provides parents with the ability to restrict when and who kids can call, times they can call, and the amount of time they can talk. It is also possible for parents to block certain numbers and view a history of calls.

TextGuard has a downloadable program to allow parents to monitor and block messages. It offers a free 60 day trial for Windows Mobile and Blackberry phones.

In some instances it can be wise to implement some of the same safeguards used on the home PC or laptop of tweens and teens on their cell phone. Content filtering software can also be found online. NetNanny is one example.

Concerns about teens who tend to text or call from their cell phone while driving are common. There are products which are coming to the market which may put parents minds at ease. One such product is Keys2SafeDriving which is a Bluetooth device that prevents teens from texting or calling while driving. Passengers in the vehicle can still use a phone and 911 and other designated numbers can still be accessed. Learn more about it on this page.

GPS Locating Services

There are also online services that allow you to download an application to your phone and give permission to allow specific individuals to track your whereabouts. Parents can use this to track children if they wish.

Apps to Monitor Kids Cell Phone USe

Choosing the Right Cell Phone for Kids

With all of this in mind, now comes the time to choose the phone you want. The right phone is the one that offers the features you feel are important and yet provides the limits that you as a responsible adult want for safety and budget reasons. As a parent you know your kid the best, and have to choose based on their level of maturity. Consider some of what has been discussed above; here are a few reminders:

Phones without web access, cameras, and so forth are often top choice for the youngest kids. Some may offer games, many offer GPS, and some allow calling only to select individuals. Kajeet phones are am examples but KytePhone is another option

When parents want to allow their kids access to the internet, more calling or messaging options, or entertainment features like MP3 players, cameras, and so forth, they can find some models available that still allow them to cap spending. Certainly, prepaid options are one choice that works well for many families with teenagers, but most carriers do offer some features along these lines. Prepaid phones from Tracfone, Net10 and others range from basic phones to mid-range smartphones and may meet the need.

While some restrictions are important for most teens, others are more mature and tech savvy, this needs to be assessed when making your phone and plan choice. Certainly too it's important to consider how a teen will use the phone. Text messaging may be of primary importance so a good keyboard, predictive text and so forth might be prized. For other kids the entertainment functions may be more important. As kids become more involved in social media, easy updates to those sites might be of critical importance. Good choices are mostly about safety, security, and capping spending, but personal preferences count too once a kid has demonstrated maturity. Choosing the right plan is as critical as choosing the right phone. The right plan can provide spending caps and the right service can provide parental controls as needed. If more controls are needed, there may be software available to provide either the monitoring or restrictions you want.

Best Cell Phones for the Youngest Kids

  1. The Firefly GlowPhone is a cell phone designed for kids 5-8. It's small to fit into your child's hand, has flashing lights and 12 pre-loaded ringtones and is so easy to use. Parents can pre-program fast dial keys, plus configure up to 20 numbers, and set incoming call screening - all using PIN control for peace of mind.
  2. The Nokia 100 is another option. Not much in the way of parental controls but there is no internet access and it has a flashlight and FM radio. It provides voice and SMS messaging. It might be appropriate for some school age children and is less likely to be rejected due to looking too childish.
  3. Kids Just5 phone. The Just5 phone is a simple calling device with large buttons. It also targets the elderly population but it's not flashy and glittery like some past children's phones. You can see one below. You can sign up with AT&T or T-Mobile and make use of any necessary parental controls desired.
  4. Verizon offers a kid specific phone, LG Migo. It has 4 parent programmable buttons, an emergency button, caller ID and more. It's brightly colored and designed to fit in the hand of younger kids. You can see it below also.
  5. As kids get a bit older more features are desired, especially for entertainment as well as more of a smartphone look. Kajeet is the perfect answer. They offer a variety of phones from which to choose along with their Smart Blocker Technology and other parental controls for safety. See some of their offerings below.

Kajeet Phones

Kajeet offers many phones, here is one options.

Best Cell Phones for Kids Who Are a Bit Older

Prepaid cell phones put a cap on usage and bills and are often a great choice for teens. They offer basic phones as well as some entry level smartphones with plenty of good texting options and entertainment features for kids that are more mature and tech savvy. Below you will see some offerings from prepaid providers but remember pretty much every cellular provider offers prepaid phones.

Boost Mobile

This affordable phone is a Samsung Galaxy Rush offered by Boost Mobile. It features a 3.5" touch screen, 3 megapixel camera, video camera, and 1.3" front facing camera.

Tracfone

This LG 840G is an affordable option available through Tracfone. It has a video camera, 2 megapixel camera, MP3 player, and 3.2" touchscreen. Users get triple minutes for life.

Virgin Mobile

If your kid needs something a bit more powerful and faster, this Samsung Galaxy SIII might be right. A bit more expensive but it offers an 8 megapixel camera and 2 megapixel front facing camera. It features a 4.8" touch screen. It is offered through Virgin Mobile.

Net10

Net10 offer this LG Optimus Logic for a great price. It has a 3.2" touchscreen, MP3 player, and 3 megapixel camera.

Photo Credits

Introduction: joshua.

Why Consider Cell Phones for Children: Milica Sekulic.

What are the Disadvantages and Dangers of Cell Phones for Kids: pictureperfectpose.

Finding the Best Cell Phone for Kids: Jeff Belmonte.

What Software Can Help Parents Protect Kids with Cell Phones: Miala.

Best Cell Phones for Kids: Was This Page Helpful? Let Us Know!

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    • spencerharry80 lm profile image

      spencerharry80 lm 4 years ago

      The list of smart phones is amazing & the lens is beautifully made.... Thanks dear

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      dang i wish i had a iphone! im 11 :(

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

      OUTFOXprevention1 4 years ago

      Cell phones are needed more and more for mobile kids. Thank you for the lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      iPhone totally

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      great lens :)

    • spids1 profile image

      spids1 4 years ago

      Great lens very well written.

    • profile image

      Hannah Writes 4 years ago

      My twins will,get a phone when they go to middle school in two years. I wonder what technological advances there will be!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Excellent overiew.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Buy an iPhone and limit everything

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I got my 10 year old the lg ally and she loves it. I got it for her when I had been 38 weeks pregnant and it wasn't a lot of stress for me or my baby

    • profile image

      SallyForth 5 years ago

      I really like the Migo for little kids. I'm thinking about getting my niece one for her birthday (with her parents' permission, of course).

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My team and I are working on a new kind of service - an app that takes over any Android phone and turns it into a kid-friendly smartphone with GPS location and full parental control from the web.

      If you've been thinking of giving your child a phone but are hesitating and think you'd like to have some control over how your child uses their phone, our service might be right for you.

      If you're interested, please email me at jakeyenom@gmail.com and we'll get you set up in under 5 minutes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Both my teenage boys have prepaid tracfones and if they go over their limit they have to buy minutes themselves or go without, this teaches them responsibility and budgeting skills.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice post, really at present time internet trend growing day by day and all these technical gadgets like cellphone and i pods are used mostly by the kids and youth. internet Filter and other tools now become popular to reduce internet harmful effect and protect current generation from it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Take a random tween, age 8-12, place them in front of a rotary phone and observe at the blank stare of bewilderment. Yes, gone are the days of the landline, pushed aside by the next wave of technological advancement. Mobile phones are quick displacing landlines in many homes; accompanying this movement is the fact children regularly use and know how to use these cell phones. The mobility of cell phones means it is possible to be anywhere and have the necessity, or ought to I say the convenience, of a phone. free government cell phones

    • markettrol profile image

      markettrol 5 years ago

      yes....my neice has a six year old, and was thinking about a phone for him.....she is a working mom and I think a cell phone with security and parental locks is a good idea.

    • blazingzone lm profile image

      blazingzone lm 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the info on what phone to get for my kids. i should be able to relate one of the phones u mentioned to them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      We just bought the Virgin LG900G for our twin sons and I was really pleased with the price and the phone. I am not impressed that we can not shut off the internet access. I also prefer to lock their call list so that they can only call certain numbers and receive calls from their call list. You can't do that from this phone. We might be taking them back because I don't think they need that much freedom for their first phones.

      Just wanted to share that info in case it helps someone else choose a phone.

    • magento-templates profile image

      magento-templates 6 years ago

      thanks for useful info!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hey, Nice information. I was need a better cell phone for my 10 years old kids. Thanks for providing such a useful information.

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    • profile image

      Janiswedding 7 years ago

      Thanks a lot for all that info. I'm looking to getting my 16year old a phone, and seeing that I'm on a tracfone, I was going to get him something similar, maybe just cheaper. Now I'm quite happy with tracfone, prepaid, cost of phone, and especially the dmfl. But I see you make no mention of this option in your lens. Is there a reason for this. Am I on the wrong tack here going for a tf?

    • Draconius LM profile image

      Draconius LM 7 years ago

      Great Lens full of great information am lensrolling it to my Blackberry and other phone review lenses

    • profile image

      grantdelmark 7 years ago

      Nice job! Excellent information! I am a kid myself, and got a cell phone a couple of years ago. This is the way to start out! And you are right about kids accidentally over texting (I speak from experience)! Keep it up!

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 9 years ago

      Another informative lens! I like the security of knowing with a cell phone my teens can stay in contact with me when needed.

    • profile image

      enslavedbyfaeries 9 years ago

      Great lens with helpful information on sorting out the best options. Kajeet has worked out wonderfully for my daughter and I feel in complete control with the restrictions I have on her plan.

    • Barkely profile image

      Barkely 9 years ago

      Ohh, my son so wants a cell phone! You have some great info here. He's still not getting one for a couple more years, LOL.

    • profile image

      rockycha 9 years ago

      Great Topic! Excellent depth!