View Full Version : Which phones for kids??

Joe Tonich
11-01-2006, 6:31 PM
It has finally gotten to be time for the boys (11 & 13) to need a way to get hold of Mom or me. Between sports, music lessons, school.....there is something going on or a ride needed or .......

I'm looking for a cheap phone...like one I won't be too mad when they lose it....that works with the pre-paid cards. Just so they can get in touch with us in emergencies or if plans need to be changed.....

Any info would definitely be appreciated.


Mark Rios
11-01-2006, 7:27 PM
This is from Consumer Reports. It has an option to email it to a friend but it's not working for some reason. BTW, I am a paying member/contributor to CR.org.

Straight talk on cell phones for children

HI, MOM Cell phones with parental controls, such as the Firefly, may seem like a fine idea, but some groups are concerned about privacy and safety.
Now that more than one-third of 11- to 14-year-olds have their own cell phones, marketers are targeting younger kids with phones that lack a keypad but have speed-dial buttons for parents and 911. Parents preset who their child can call and who can call in (kids scroll through names on a screen), and they control costs through prepaid, or pay-as-you-go, plans.

Companies say that the phones help parents keep tabs on kids, but some child advocates object. In July 2005, Commercial Alert, a nonprofit consumer group, led 30 health, education, and privacy advocates in asking Congress to regulate how cell phones are marketed to kids. Gary Ruskin, the group’s executive director, cites concerns about kids’ safety and privacy as the phones become more advanced, including, perhaps, access to external content.

To help you decide if a kids’ phone is right for your family, we tested the Firefly, which is sold at www.fireflymobile.com , Target, Wal-Mart, Limited Too, and Toys “R” Us, and through Cingular and smaller carriers. The results:

• Voice quality was about as good as with an average cell phone but worse than usual in some noisy situations.

• The battery permitted more than seven hours of talk between charges.

• To activate the phone, parents just call 800-Firefly (800-347-3359). But entering the approved phone numbers is tedious.

• Features include flashing lights, sounds, and animation. But the Firefly lacks a key lock to prevent unintended outgoing calls.

We tried to test the LeapFrog TicTalk, another kids’ phone. It comes with five educational games, and it lets children receive and reply to text messages from their parents. But we found bugs in this new system: We were unable to activate the two TicTalks we bought.

If you’re thinking about buying any kids’ cell phone, consider:

Age. Kids need to be mature enough to use the phone responsibly.

Cost. The Firefly sells for about $100, including a travel charger. Cingular and regional carriers have various contract-billing plans, which may offer a discount on the phone cost. But we recommend that you go with a prepaid plan. They are available directly from Firefly Mobile or participating retailers. The prepaid plans come with 30 minutes of airtime. You buy additional time from Firefly Mobile or Target in blocks of 25 cents a minute, which expire after 90 days. Don’t buy more than the child is likely to use.

Health concerns. Studies looking for a link between cell phones held close to the head and tumors are inconclusive, but if a link is found, kids could be especially vulnerable. Have them use a headset.

Other options. Consider a regular cell phone with prepaid minutes and without expensive features.

I tried out the cell phone thing with my son before getting him on my plan (this was a few years ago) and I used Virgin Mobile. At the time (it still may be) it had the cheapest pre-paid minutes and we could get them at a lot of places. I think the time limit on the minutes was a year so that wasn't a problem. The phones were as low as $20 ($19.99). I got it at Target. You might want to look there in your search. You can get most, if not all, of the (pre-paid) carriers that you would find at a phone store at places like Target. I'm sure there are others department/variety stores (Walmart?) that carry them as well. The dedicated phone stores were all more expensive than buying from Target, et al.


Mike Tempel
11-01-2006, 7:55 PM
I don't know exactly which model phone to tell you to buy but I will pass on some advice that I was given when I bought my 10 year old daughter her cell phone. I was told to go ahead and get the text messaging service - even though your kids may not use it as much as you think they will and you will get charged even if they receive text messages from their friends. Also, I got her a camera phone. Sounds nuts I know but if she is somewhere with her friends and I call her I can ask her to take a picture of where she is and who she is with and send it to me right then. That way I know she is where she is supposed to be at least. Maybe some kids that I don't want her around don't end up in the picture but at least I know that she is where I was told she was. I followed this advice and although I spend more a month than I would like I have the comfort of knowing that I can get in touch with her and vice versa at any time. I wish you well - kids grow up so fast and it is hard to let them go but they can have their freedom and you can have your peace of mind at the same time.

Joe Tonich
11-01-2006, 7:57 PM
Thanks Mark...

I saw a lady buying one of those pre-payed phone cards and asked her about it...me being cell phone stupid. All I know about em is I pay cingular monthly and I can call anywhere. I looked into having more lines put in but I can't afford 4 cell lines, if ya know what I mean. The pre-payed is what I'm lookin for, and the boys know, if they don't follow the rules it will be gone and they'll have to go with us everywhere. What teenager want's THAT????

Mike Sheppard
11-02-2006, 8:12 AM
We use Tracfone http://www.tracfone.com/home_page.jsp it is prepayed from their web site. They have have several phones and deals, as we don't use it much we have the one year deal. We add time to it as needed from the site. We tryed Verizon, AT&T and one other I can't recall and they would not work from where cabin in northen Michigan is.

P.S. I do not work for them.

Al Willits
11-02-2006, 8:50 AM
Don't have kids, but threw the question out to a couple of co workers and to a person, they say to go with prepaid minutes, run out of minutes, no phone.

I was told, you'd be supprised at the phone bills a teenager can rack up. :)


Phyllis Meyer
11-02-2006, 10:36 AM
Getting the girls the cell phones was the best thing we did! We too set limits and explained if they went over they pay...we have one phone through Alltell & one with Cellcom (long story). We looked into the pre-pay ones and still this comes out cheaper!

The text messaging is what they use the most. They pay for that! It's like $5-6 extra per month. Good luck, but it is worth it no matter which way you go. The peace of mind and it worked so nice to be able to tell them wherever you go and you don't want to be there...just call!:)



Joe Pelonio
11-02-2006, 11:39 AM
We had T-Mobile which was the least expensive, and each additional line was just $9.95/month with free phones (we had 4). We gave the kids the phones for Christmas and told them we'd pay for 6 months, after that they had to pay us for the monthly charges. Of course they were a little older than yours at the time, 13 & 15. We eventually changed to Verizon because of coverage area issues but the kids are paying their part regularly.

Greg Narozniak
11-02-2006, 1:28 PM
This is the best thing I have seen in a long time.


It limites the numbers called and you can also enable a GPS tracking feature so You can find out where the child is. very very cool feature sadly, needed in today's world.

Cliff Rohrabacher
11-02-2006, 5:26 PM
the one they have to pay for themselves.