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Do Kids NEED Cell Phones?

By Cyndra Neal

This is a question that many parents find themselves wondering about, often when their children are as young as eight or nine years old. Kids are asking for technological gadgets at increasingly early ages, claiming that they need things like cell phones, video games, iPods, and laptop computers.

But do your kids really need these things? Essentially, this type of question is one that parents must address on an individual basis. Your particular family circumstances should be the primary guiding force in determining whether your young child needs a cell phone.

The first thing that you should take into consideration is how often your child is away from you or your spouse. If you have an eight year old who is never away from you except to go to school, then the odds are pretty good that he or she does not have any real need for a cell phone. On the other hand, if your child spends a good deal of time away from you (with friends, relatives, or at school sponsored events), then you might want to consider purchasing some type of cell phone for emergency situations.

The key to maintaining control over your child’s cell phone usage is to make sure that you impose restrictions on phone usage so that your kids do not have carte blanche to do whatever they want.

Choosing a Cell Phone for Kids

This seems to be one of the biggest dilemmas that parents face, even if they have decided that their child needs a cell phone. Depending on your child’s age, he or she may not really need a “standard” cell phone that you would get from a major cell phone provider.

For younger kids, there are some great starter phones that you can purchase that will kind of ease them into cell phone responsibility without putting an enormous strain on your budget. For example, the Firefly Phone is a popular choice that allows parents to pay as they go or opt for monthly plans to accommodate their childs needs.

The Firefly Phone comes with parental controls, which should be an absolute must for any parent who is considering purchasing a cell phone for a child under the age of about 14. In addition, Firefly Phones start at about $49, with plans starting at about $10, making it a relatively affordable option for parents who feel the need to buy their young children cell phones.

Another option is Kajeet, which claims to be the safest cell phone service for kids. They offer parental controls, a GPS locator, no annual contracts, and no fees for early termination of services. These are just some examples of parental controled phones for kids.

Security, Convenience, or too much Independence?

The bottom line is that cell phones are expensive. They are not toys, and they should not be handed out to children before giving the matter some serious consideration. If giving your child a cell phone will give you greater peace of mind, or if it will allow you to stay in touch with your child when he or she is away from you, then there is certainly nothing wrong with giving your child this tool.

If you’re simply tired of being nagged by a child who wants to fit in with “everybody else”, then you might want to think twice about whether giving your child a cell phone would really be a wise idea. In most cases, children are not really away from their parents enough before they learn to drive to warrant having a cell phone.

12 Responses to “Do Kids NEED Cell Phones?”

  • cant say:

    Kids should have phones but only because if they are walking home from the buss stop or from school the could fall and hurt themselves or they could get lost there are so many posiblities that could happen if i were you guys i wouldn’t take any chances

    • No way:

      How many years have kids been walking to and from school and not needed a phone to make it there and back? It’s ridiculous how patents replace good parenting with technology teach your hold how to be safe and there is no need for the phone

  • Jim:

    You know kids don’t really need cell phones. Just like adults don’t really either. People survived up until 20 years ago without them so we can too. But they are ultra convenient. I say if your child is mature enough to know the extreme costs and you can get a cost effect pay as you go deal then it’s ok to get your child cell phone. For cost reasons I prefer my young ones get their gadget fill by using an ipod instead of a iphone. As long as they are on WiFi, they can use apps to make calls to land lines for free.

  • Great content! The author has addressed one of the questions that really confuse the parents nowadays. Another ideal cell phone for children these days is the Just5 Easyphone. Aside from its basic features, this is also equipped with an emergency response system. This feature is very important to truly enhance the safety of children. I like the idea that calling for an immediate help in times of crisis will just be a fingertip away with this phone.

  • Yna:

    A simple cell phone with practical features is the best cell phone for children, indeed. I would also like to add in the options that were cited in this article the Just5 Easyphone. I really like this phone for children as this doesn’t only offer simple features but as well as an emergency response system, which can really be useful in securing the safety of children.

  • Raine:

    Kids having cell phone is a good thing as long as parents teach them the responsibility that comes along with owning a cell phone. In my case, my nephews lucked out getting their cell phones before their teens on our recent trip to Disney. Going in, we know that they’d like diffent rides and would most likely drive us nuts waiting in line for the ones they have no interest in, so we bought the cheapest prepaid phones we could find for each. It ended up working out qutie well and we gave them the phones after the trip and would buy additinal airtimes for them for good grades/behaviors and things of the like 🙂 What a great starter phone for kids…this way there’s no issue with phone bill surprises at month end and we can use the min. cards as incentives 🙂

  • Nubia:

    Kids having cell phones are quite common these days. I completely agree with this article that the age truly depends on an individual basis. My personal perference is TracFone. As a strater phone for kids, it’s great. #1 It’s prepaid so you are in control of the spending and minutes and there’s no longterm commitment. #2 The price is right…affordable for almost any budget. Many phones options less than $20 and service about $10 or less montlhly. #3 Reliable service/clear reception. It may not have the bells and whistles of the truly kids designed cell phones (parental control, limited numbers of dialing, emergency buttons) but for the price, it’s totally worth the investment.

  • Juliette:

    I think it’s inevitable at this point. Everyone has phones so putting it off just creates additional conflict with kids. The best thing to do is use the cell phone as a learning tool for kids. I get my daughter a NET10 prepaid phone when she turned 12 as a welcome to middle school gift. But I also told her that she was responsible for managing her minutes and helping me pay her monthly bill with chores. I only pay $15 a month so it’s no big whole in my pocket. She gets 150 minutes a month, which goes a long way since NET10 costs 10 cents a minute and 3 cents a text. She really, really manages the phone well and so far she’s doing a great job budgeting. So, if you can’t bet them, join them, just be smart about it!

  • R-L-A-George:

    I agree with everything and this is better than what I wrote http://www.r-l-a-george.blogspot.com in fact my blog might of insulted some people, but I was trying to make a point. I’m 21 and I never really felt like I wanted a cellphone, but I needed one because I felt embarrased to go, to customer service desk at walmart to call my parents when I lost track of them and using the phone at the library made me feel germaphobic and I find texting handy when the person can’t talk over the phone at the moment. I didn’t get a phone til’ I was 18 and I’m not ashamed, I spent part of my life in the 90s with frugal parents that are not as frugal, but I never asked for money because I was aware of my family’s financial stand at a young age. Even though the one toy I dreamed of getting when I was young was a Nintedo Gameboy and than it evolved into wanting a Gamboy Advance SP, but I didn’t get those ever. One day I didn’t expect it but I ended up with a DS lite then a DSi and now I have DSi XL. Funny how life works, if you wait patiently sometimes you will get it.

  • Henry:

    I choose to go with net10 for my kids for a couple reasons. First i know the service is great and i will be able to contact my kids if i need to. Secondly since its prepaid i have a lot of control over there minutes. And thirdly cause its cheap, only 15 bucks a month for service and a flat 10 cents per minute. So it works well cause i dont want them using it to much, its more for emergencies and what not so it works perfectly.

  • Ferni:

    I bought both of my kids a cell phone when they got into middle school because I believe that is the time that they may encounter situations in which they need to call home right away. That is also the time where they start going to their friends birthday parties, etc. I bought them each a prepaid cell phone on the TracFone Straight Talk plan at WalMart. I pay $30 a month for 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts, and 30MB of data. They can’t go over their minutes and there are no activation or cancellation fees. Plus, they both got cool camera phones. Keeping them connected is the best way to keep me at ease.

  • Great article!! It absolutely is a decision based on your individual families needs! I came to that conclusion when my daughter became active in sports – it made it so much easier to communicate about rides and changes in practice times. At the time I was introduced to kajeet and actually became part of the Mom Sales Team I was so impressed with the service. Our monthly bill is $14.99 – she has 60 voice minutes which is the perfect amount to keep in touch with me and unlimited text messaging – which so far she is just beginning to use. As part of the sales team I can offer anyone 15% off any phone kajeet sells by going to http://www.kajeet.com/michele

    Check out the new Family Plans – $60 a month for 3 phones!!

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