As school reconvenes, a great debate rages in homes across the country. The topic under discussion? Kids cell phones.
From teens to tweens to pre-tweens, every kid is convinced their backpack isn't complete until it contains either a new cell phone or their first cell phone.
Cell phone providers have increasingly targeted the under-12 set by creating phones that sooth the parental concerns, including the popular LG Migo phone from Verizon, Firefly phone from Cingular and the Wherifone G560 from Wherifone Wireless.
Such phones don't come cheap, however, and kids tend to break and lose electronics easily. So you might consider picking up a used phone.
As the new school year looms, here are that primary pros and cons for kids cell phones, as well as a list of the top four phones designed specifically for those under age 12.
Emergencies seem to happen more frequently these days, and parents want instant access whatever the situation.
Cell phones can also serve as a lifeline when your child needs to contact the police, fire department or ambulance services.
Finally, many parents appreciate the GPS devices built into many phones that allow them to keep tabs on their children.
Not everyone wants to buy a pet. Your child can learn responsibility by looking after a cell phone and you won't have to pick doo-doo out of the back yard.
Avoid tempting fate, however, by purchasing a sturdy case for your child's cell phone. Save on a bulk buy with Cell Phone Accents coupon codes.
Set guidelines so your child will learn how to use his cell phone and make sure there are consequences if your child doesn't follow those guidelines.
Life is busy, particularly when both parents work or you're a single parent. Once you've begun communicating via cell phones, you'll wonder how you ever did without.
You can let your child know if you're running late to pick them up from school or practice. In turn, they can keep you up to date on any change of plans; whether school was let out early due to a storm or if he's going to a friend's house and will be home late.
Cell phones don't grow on trees and kids have a habit of misplacing or breaking them. Air time also can be expensive, even if you're just adding one more phone to your basic plan. Is convenience and security worth the extra expense?
2. Disruptive Capability
Cell phone calls, texting and other add-ons can be disruptive during school, athletic practice or other organized activities that require a child's full attention. You can limit this problem by selecting from the following four phones that have strong parental controls.
LG Migo VX1000 (Verizon)
CNet Reviews calls the LG Migo VX1000 "The best cell phone for young kids thus far." Parent and kid reviewers agreed.
This cute green phone looks like Shrek, is about the size of a pack of gum.
Although the call quality is nothing exceptional, it fits small hands nicely and has just four programmable numbered keys. There's also a power key, emergency key and speakerphone. Features do not include texting, games or a camera.
Firefly glowPhone (Cingular)
The bare-bones glowPhone has two big programmable keys with pictures of Mom and Dad (apologies to single or same-sex parents). You can program an additional 50 numbers into them via the parental controls menu, which requires a PIN number. The process is tedious, however, as there is no key pad.
Parents can set the glowPhone so it can only place and receive calls from specific numbers. Parents can also lock the phone so your child can receive but not transmit text messages. The phone includes several games to keep kids amused for short periods of time.
Wherifone G560 (Wherify Wireless)
The Wherify offers respectable audio quality and a solid set of user-friendly parental controls, but it's size, dull design and tiny keys make it less than inspiring. Perhaps more importantly, the GPS service isn't always accurate and there's no voicemail or caller ID.
Enfora TicTalk (Cingular)
This is one of the stranger cell phones you'll ever see. It looks more like a big stopwatch, but it's compact and sturdy. Think of it as a cell phone for someone who's old enough to know how to use one, but too young to handle a contract, pricey features, or a monthly minute balance.
The TicTalk is meant for communication to preselected numbers and has strong parent control. It does include some kid’s educational games from LeapFrog, but at 25-cents per minute and roughly $99 for the phone, the TicTalk is mighty pricey.