Buying Guide to Cell Phones, GPS Phones and More for Kids

Everyone has cell phones these days. Is it time your kids had one too? Only you can deicde that, based on your family’s communication needs and budget. There are some interesting options out there. Some cell phones for kids allows complete parental control, others are designed for easy use by tweens, and some others are merely glorified toys (which may be right for your child).

Comparing Cell Phones

Determining which of these factors is most important to you in a cell phone will help you decide which cell phone to buy for your tween.

Add On? The biggest decision you will have to make when buying a cell phone for kids is whether you should just add a phone to your current plan, or migrate to a family-oriented provider. It may depend on your current phone contract, if your cell phone is tied to business expenses, and on the difference in cost to your family. The controls on some family cell phone providers may help save money for families whose usage is out of control.

Battery Life With any cell phone, especially a cell phone for kids, battery life is important. Be sure the cell phone battery which comes standard with the cell phone has a long enough battery life to suit your needs. What is the standby time? And features you may not want in a cell phone for kids: Is the battery easily removed?

Beyond Voice If the cell phone for kids you are considering has Internet capabilities, you may want to consider the necessity of that feature. Time spent accessing Internet pages, sending e-mail and instant messaging will eat up valuable minutes. Most of these activities can be done at home, at school or at the library.

Cost The cost of a cell phone for kids is in the same ballpark as other cell phones. Consider visiting Wirefly to find cell phone deals and plans on all major carriers. Often when buying phones through Wirefly, you will receive extra accessories and better prices than going through the providers directly.

Durability Cell phones for kids should be made to move from pocket to backpack, to being dropped on the ground, back to pocket…and still function. Easily scratched or shiny materials are not suitable for cell phones for kids.

GPS should come standard on any cell phone for kids. It allows parents to monitor kids, or locate a lost phone.

Kid Appeal When buying a cell phone for kids, consider if you’d like the phone to look like yours, or to appeal to your child. If you’d rather have a phone that looks more like a phone than a toy, keep that in mind when purchasing a cell phone for kids.

Safety Features A cell phone for kids should have an easy way to contact mom, dad, or other guardians quickly and easily. Speed dial numbers on cell phones for kids are also convenient. A cell phone with a direct link to 911 is useful for kids who understand the meaning of an “emergency.” Some cell phones for kids allow parents to control which numbers may be dialed and restricting other numbers.

Features to Skip on Your Tween’s Phone

Buying a cell phone for your tween should be as fun and effortless as the phone itself. Kids do not need a lot of technology and features on their phones. Since some schools are beginning to ban cell phones with cameras for privacy reasons, it is best to buy a cell phone for your tween that does not have an added camera.

Other extras that you may want to avoid on your tween’s first cell phone are Internet access and a music player. Having Internet access for you tween’s cell phone would be like giving your child your credit card and dropping them off a the mall for a day. Most tweens can wait until they are home, at school or at the library to surf and download, otherwise your tween’s cell phone minutes will soon dwindle.

If your tween really wants a portable music player, it’s best to buy them one separately from their cell phone. If a tween’s cell phone has music playing capabilities, the battery will be worn down before mom or dad can make their first call.

Before You Buy

If you feel you and your tween could benefit from a cell phone, and that it won’t be misused, it may be time to purchase one. There are some important ground rules to set with kids before handing over a new phone. Because most public schools have strict policies for cell phone use at school it is important to follow some basic guidelines, in addition to any specific rules of their school. Although some guidelines may seem obvious, it is important to spell them out for children and pre-teens receiving a cell phone.

1. Do not use your cell phone during class, even if it is “just to text.”
2. Cell phone use should be limited to lunch, recess and for after school.
3. Set a monthly limit of minutes unless there is one build in.
4. Practice respect and good cell phone etiquette.

The Phones

Disney Mobile

Disney Mobile, which launched in June of 2006, has created a wireless service and cell phones specifically designed for families, not just for parents and not just for kids. In coming up with cell phones for families, Disney Mobile has listened to what parents today want and need in a family cell phone plan. Parents will be able to manage their family cell phone plan online through Disney Mobile. With Disney Mobile comes Family Center features, which allow parents to:

1. Locate kids’ cell phones GPS capabilities.
2. Set a “spending allowance” for kids’ cell phones which tracks usage for voice minutes, text messaging, picture messaging and downloading, as well as an alert-system letting kids know when they have reached their allowance.
3. Manage communication on kids’ cell phones with always-on numbers and restricted numbers.
4. Prioritize important family messages.
5. Determine the hours of the day and days of the week when kids can use their cell phones.

: Disney Mobile is the best choice for a family plan for families who currently do not have a family cell phone plan or whose family plan is soon expiring. This plan als works for parents who have Internet access during the day for messaging their kid’s cell phone.

Firefly Mobile Cell Phone for Kids

Firefly Mobile has really cute cell phones for kids. The Firefly phone for kids was designed to address the needs of pre-teenage kids and their parents. Firefly phones are kid-sized and colorful. They have just five keys, lots of light, sound and animation. Who wouldn’t want one of those? The Firefly Phone for kids, which costs $99, comes with intentional limits.

1.The Firefly phone for kids is a voice-only phone. The phone does have caller ID and optional call screening.
2. It’s small and rounded design is geared to fit directly into the hands of kids aged eight to 12 years old. How small? It is about the size of a small pocket calculator.
3. The Firefly phone for kids is easy to use. There are only just five keys instead of a regular dial pad on this kids’ cell phone. Parents use a pin to program up to 22 outgoing numbers into the phone. The Firefly phone for kids has two icon indicated speed-dial keys for Mom and Dad.
4. The Firefly also has a 911 button for emergency calls with and accidental call prevention feature.
5. During use, this cell phone for kids lights up like a firefly.
6. Firefly cell phone for kids comes 12 ring tones, seven screen colors, five animations, a battery charger and a hook for a backpack clip.

Suitable for: A holiday or birthday present, as the Firefly is one of the higher-priced cell phones for kids. Best for younger children who will enjoy the fun features of the Firefly.

TicTalk

TicTalk is an easy-to-use which enables parental control of all functions and features via the TicTalk web page. Features of TickTalk include:
1. Total parental control: parents control who can call the cell phone, who the kids can call, and when the phone can be used.
2. Rewards – Kids can earn extras minutes for playing LeapFrogÃ?® learning games on their TicTalk.
3. This cell phone is ready for use with the TicTalk pre-paid service plan.
4. Battery power: talk time is eight hours, game-play time is 18 hours or there are 100 house of idle standby time.

Suitable for: Younger kids, not so much for tweens; one of the more durable options.
Verizon’s Migo Cell Phone for Kids

Comparable to the Firefly cell phone for kids is Verizon’s Migo. Taking a page out of Firefly Mobile’s book, the Migo even looks a little like the Firefly cell phone for kids. The Verizon Migo kid’s cell phone also comes with Chaperone, which can locate your child’s Migo through your handset or PC.

1. The Verizon Migo has a cute, kid-friendly compact design which will fit comfortably into a small hand.
2. The cell phone for kids is easy to use with a simplified keypad and interface.
3. Parents may program four buttons on their tween’s cell phone.
4. The Verizon Migo kid’s phone comes with a dedicated emergency key.

Suitable for: Families who currently have Verizon or will be switching to Verizon. With everyone’s phone on one plan, parents can track costs easier. Kids will like the phone and parents will like the convenience of one bill.

Whereify

The Wherifone is a GPS cell phone for children and seniors. The phone is slim, small and lightweight and according to Whereify, it is the smallest GPS cell phone. The phone, like the Firefly and Migo is a tiny handset without a regular keypad found on traditional cell phones. Instead, there are a limited number of programmed keys. Wherify phones should be available as of October 1, 2006.

1. The Wherifone has an SOS’ button in of case emergency.
2. There are five programmable buttons for one-touch dialing.
3. Wherifone has a push button location services
4. Wherifone colors include silver, pink, black, purple and blue.

Suitable for: Parents who need to know where their kids or family members are at all times.

Consider use, practicality, cost, coverage area and child’s maturity level before purchasing a kid’s cell phone.

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