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A closer look at phones for kids

A closer look at phones for kids
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Clark Howard |
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As I go out and about, I’m asked continually about cellphones for kids.

One of the questions I get from parents most often is at what age should a kid have a cellphone? The answer is…I don’t know. There is no right age for every kid in every situation. You have to decide what’s right in your own household.

Whenever you decide, the most important thing is to have rules. As an example, our teenage daughter who has a cell phone can’t use it after 9 p.m. We believe in my house that it’s important to disengage from the digital world before bedtime.

Jannell Burley Hoffman is a mom with a blog that recently made headlines when she posted an iPhone contract for her 13-year-old son.

Among the provisions in the contract:

  • I will always know the password.
  • Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm.
  • It does not go to school with you.
  • Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. (Bonus article: Are Your Kids’ Pics Being Tracked?)

The more you set up the rules up front, the less headache you’ll have down the road.

Fortunately, there are affordable options where you as parent can put a phone in a kid’s hands and be able to limit what they’re doing on the phone.

Here’s a closer look at the best phones for kids

ScratchWireless. You buy for you a Motorola Photon Q for $269 — it’s a fancy smartphone with a 4.3 inch screen that runs Android 4.1 — and then the monthly service offers unlimited texting completely free. Calling can only be done when you’re on wifi. Same thing with web surfing or downloading. So basically, this allows a parent at no monthly cost to be able to stay in touch with a child by texting.

Kajeet. Monthly service is $14.99. This service offers complete parental controls and unlimited texting, but only 60 calling minutes. Data is very expensive, so this service is really just for staying in touch with texting.

Sprint. The major wireless carrier’s new WeGo plan offers location tracking and parental controls. It’s $10 a month and allows 1,000 minutes and 1,000 texts. This is a very good deal from Sprint.

There may be other choices, but these phones for kids are the 3 best that I’ve seen.