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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

"Starter" phones for young kids...

Memorial Day has come and gone and summer will officially soon be here. As the schools start to break up and kids head off to camp and other summer activities, parents of tweens and even younger kids will yet again be faced with that all-important question of the digital age: Is it time to get my child a cell phone?

Recent studies indicate that cell phone "ownership" is getting younger all the time, with some reports suggesting that as many as 50 percent of all 12-year-olds now have access to a dedicated phone.

While there's little doubt that some of these phones are acquired as a result of tween nagging and cajoling, other parents provide phones because of safety concerns. Whether their kids are at camp, visiting grandma or just on a day trip to the mall, parents – and children – feel happier if there is a quick way to check in and make sure everything is OK.

Plus, it's not like parents are calling every 5 minutes. Texting and GPS monitoring tools have almost eliminated the need for the traditional phone call.

So if you have decided to take the plunge and buy your child a first phone, what are the best products and the best plans? If you are just looking to keep in touch without opening up a world of apps, Internet access and inappropriate images, here are two providers that gear their services just for kids:


A winner of The Online Mom CHOICE Award, Kajeet has partnered with some of the best known cell phone manufacturers to provide full-range of kid-friendly services combined with strict parental controls.

The choice of phones ranges from the LG 125, a refurbished phone costing just $24.99, all the way up to the $199.99 LG Rumor 2, with sliding QWERTY keyboard, MP3 player, Bluetooth technology and a 1.3 megapixel camera. Service plans can be unlimited or pay-as-you-go and all plans have an optional GPS locator service for added peace-of-mind.

For more information, visit http://www.kajeet.com


Firefly phones range from the brightly-colored glowPhone, with a full-color screen, built-in games, and customizable ringtones for $49.99, up to the Nokia E72 smartphone for teens at $359.

There are no long-terms commitments – parents can choose between flexible pay-as-you-go plans or monthly plans.  A PIN-protected phone book service lets parents set the numbers their children can call and there is an option for rejecting calls from numbers not on the approved list.

For more information, visit http://www.fireflymobile.com/  

Comment by soccer777, posted 11/16/2013, 11:52 AM:

my kid loves the starter phone.She is on it all the time
Comment by Beatriz, posted 5/27/2011, 12:48 AM:

I would add TracFone to this list. It's a lot more affordable..lots of phone options for under $20 and monthly service can be as low as $7/month which translates to great starter phone for kids. If they lose it, no big deal. However, the phones may not have all the bells and whistles of these other phones that are designed specifically for kids but with parental guidance, should work just fine.
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