- Family and Parenting
Best Cell Phones for Kids
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.
Cell Phone Dangers for Kids - Parents Need to Be Aware
- Smart Money Article
7 ways to fight spam, young kids need be restricted from unknown callers; older kids need to know the rules of engagement.
- Bully Online Article
Parents should read this and talk to their kids.
- Cyber Bullying
Another good read for parents.
- Norton Symantec Article
Learning more about bullying and how to protect against it.
- Safe Kids
Learn more about how predators can target kids using cell phones.
- BellaOnline Article
More information about how children could be potentially exploited via cell phones.
- PC World Article
Ahh, finally something to help protect kids from potential predators.
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.
The service allows you to see real-time locations, speed, and headings of your children/family members or cars/vehicles, and receive email or SMS alerts when they move across the designated areas or exceeds speed limit.
Another free locating service. You only have to download to one phone and the people selected can monitor via their internet capable phone or computer. In fact, both speed and location can be tracked. Accuracy is very good; probably within 100 feet a
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 optionWhen 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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 offer this LG Optimus Logic for a great price. It has a 3.2" touchscreen, MP3 player, and 3 megapixel camera.