Parents give their children cell phones for reassurance and added security. It also allows them to keep in touch with their kids when they’re not together. There are many models designed specifically for young children, from preschoolers to tweens, while other models are marketed to meet the needs of teens.
Parents can choose phones to track children’s whereabouts via GPS, monitor phone activity and block content. Finding the cell phone that’s right for your child depends on how old, tech-savvy and responsible they are. And, whether you want them to use the phone for emergencies only, communicating with friends and family or have the ability to surf the web.
Use the following list as a guide for choosing the best cell phone for your child. For your convenience the list is broken into categories according to age.
Dubbed the “Skrek phone”, the LG Migo is great for small hands and built for durability. It has four speed-dial buttons and an emergency button. It also has ten ringtones to choose from, caller ID and a speakerphone feature.
This bear-shaped phone available in blue and pink is the perfect emergency phone for young kids. It holds four programmable numbers and can send four pre-set SMS messages to those programmed numbers. It also has two SOS buttons.
This small phone is able to call four pre-programmed numbers and has an emergency button. It’s available in pink or blue with the ability to attach a lanyard, and GPS tracking capabilities.
This multi-colored phone is a third of the size of a regular mobile phone, making it easy for small hands to use. You can program up to five numbers to be called. It also has an emergency button and GPS tracking capabilities.
This cute little phone that glows and has a built-in flashlight is an excellent first phone. You can program up to 50 numbers but has dedicated “mom” and “dad” buttons for kids to easily contact their parents. It also comes with kid-friendly games, allows parents to monitor calls and has customizable ringtones.
This phone looks more like a stopwatch than a phone. It is excellent for kids who are old enough to know how to use a phone, but not responsible enough for a contract. It has a loop to be clipped to backpacks or a lanyard. Instead of buttons it has scrolling wheels to allow kids to scroll through the menus. It allows parents to program up to 10 restricted numbers and 12 unrestricted numbers. Parents can also control the amount of time and what time of day the phone can be used. It has an SOS button and GPS tracking capabilities.
This basic phone for young children allows five numbers to be programmed, has an SOS button and GPS tracking.
Filip is a watch and phone in one, available in four different colors. It allows parents to program up to five phone numbers, GPS tracking and one-way texting that allows you to send messages and reminders to your child.
This phone’s simple style, sturdy body and long battery life make it excellent for little ones. The speaking keypad has extra-large keys that are easy for chubby little fingers to press and confirms that the correct number was pressed. It has a built-in emergency button, once pressed emits a loud siren alarm, connects to a live person and contacts five pre-programmed numbers sending a text message that reads “Help me. I’m in an emergency.” Take a look at this video review for a more detailed overview.
This phone is larger than most cell phones. It has a large keypad, screen and a dial tone to make it more like a landline. It also features an SOS button, live operator and external speaker. You can choose between a simpler model with bare-bones features, and a new model that includes a camera, text messaging and Bluetooth support.
Tweens and Teens
This translucent small sapphire cell packs almost all the bells and whistles that smartphones for adults do. Expect your kid to drool over its built-in games, embedded camera, full-sized multicolor screen, and 1 killer feature that no other kiddie phone has – an “electro-luminescent morphing keypad” that automatically switches between game controller, MP3 or video controller, and number pad.
This kid-friendly phone allows parents to monitor and control phone use online. You can also add more memory, music and videos as needed.
The trendy touchscreen-keyboard hybrid makes navigating social media a breeze for your tweens and teens. It has all the features of an adult phone. Parents will love the added protection of Kajeet’s encrypted parental controls, complete with the authority to view and restrict your kid’s every download, voice mail, contact, call, text, photo, video and anything else they see using their Seek.
Kytephone is an app that allows parents to turn any android smartphone into a kid-friendly phone. You have complete control over the content your children are allowed to see, numbers they call or can accept and how long they can use each feature on the phone. You can program the phone to only be used during certain times of the day and set a limit on game play time. Once the app is installed it cannot be shut down by kids, even if they turn the phone off and take the battery out. Parents have 100% control over their children’s phone activities.
The Samsung Factor is a basic phone that offers simple functions, including calls, texts and a camera. The phone also has a speech-to-text feature. It’s an inexpensive phone with a pre-paid plan that is excellent for children learning the responsibility of owning a phone.
Suitable for older kids, this phone has built-in Microsoft Office integration for easy access to homework. Additionally, it’s compatible with XBox Companion, a free app that syncs to XBox Live from the phone for kids who love gaming. To use it, open the app near a console and Xbox will port whatever you’re browsing on the phone onto the screen.
This phone is practical, fun and stylish. It’s the phone for teens who prefer to text rather than talk. It also features an FM radio, games and camera.
This inexpensive android is perfect for your child’s first smartphone. It’s more durable than most smartphones, has a sleek design and has a pay-as-you-go plan.
This inexpensive phone is small, has a touch screen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
This stylish phone has a side-flip feature that allows teens to have a full QWERTY keyboard designed for texting and multimedia.
This is an inexpensive phone with built-in QWERTY keyboard, camera, MP3 player and Bluetooth support.
The Samsung Smooth is very inexpensive. It offers some handy features, such as integrated Bluetooth, a camera, a basic Web browser and add-on GPS capability. The buttons are large and easy to press.
The LG Scoop has an attractive, easy-to-use design with ergonomic navigation controls and a spacious keyboard. It also has a decent set of features including Bluetooth, voice dialing and multiple messaging options.
The Samsung Magnet features a full QWERTY keyboard with support for numerous e-mail accounts and instant messaging. It also offers a slim design, Bluetooth and excellent call quality.
The Sanyo 6600 Katana has a slim silhouette and offers a VGA camera, Bluetooth, a speakerphone, text messaging, voice dialing, a voice recorder and a wireless Web browser. It also has a large external screen.
The Sanyo Juno is slim and lightweight, with a great keyboard and an easy-to-use interface. It offers extensive messaging support, including support for e-mail. It’s also very affordable.
The LG Revere is a compact and lightweight flip phone with features like a camera, Bluetooth, mobile e-mail and the ability to upload pictures to Facebook. Call quality is very good, and the Revere is very affordable.
The Cedar is an inexpensive feature phone. It has a sleek design, long battery life and social media apps.
The Motorola Clutch has a compact design with a comfortable keyboard. Call quality is excellent.
This phone has an eye-catching pop-up display. It also has vibration feedback for game playing and ring tones. The audio quality is excellent with a built-in speakerphone and voice commands. Its pay-as-you-go plan helps parents control cost.
This inexpensive phone is small and light. It features a strong battery life, automatic volume control and IM capabilities.
If your tween or teen is very active or just rough on phones, you may want to consider the National Geographic Xplorer. It has a stylish, rugged body and completely waterproof.
Another excellent choice for active kids is the Sanyo Pro-700. It has a rugged military-spec exterior and works with Nextel’s Direct Connect push-to-talk network. It also has built-in GPS, Bluetooth and great performance.
The LG Cosmos has a solid and simple slider design with a tactile number keypad and a roomy QWERTY keyboard. You also get a camera, Bluetooth and GPS. Call quality is great as well.
Older teens may need to upgrade to a true smartphone. HTC’s One Mini has a striking design, Android 4.2.2, terrific external speakers and a strong feature set.
The extremely popular smartphone is an excellent choice for responsible, older teens. The ease of use, ability to connect to other devices and variety of apps available allow parents to have more control over teens’ phone use.
Modern parents are no longer deciding if they will buy their child a cell phone, but rather when they will buy them a phone. Cell phones are no longer considered a luxury, but more a matter of convenience, safety and, in most situations, a necessity. Children’s schedules are just as packed as their parents’, and need the ability to communicate. Plus, schools are also using smartphones and tablets in the classroom as learning tools.
Although mobile phones are such a big part of our society doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t take precautions when deciding on the right phone for their child. When choosing a phone, think about how responsible your child is instead of just their age. Also, put thought into the type of plan and parental controls available. You want to be able to adjust the level of control you have depending on your child’s behavior. Instead of waiting until your child is a teenager, aka. “the rebellious years”, consider giving them a phone at a younger age. With proper parental controls in place and guidance on your part, your child will be a more responsible cell phone user.