5 Best Cell Phones For Kids
Cell phones can have a lot of benefits for children and families — they offer a way for kids to get in touch with parents quickly (and vice versa) and many have a GPS capability that allows parents to monitor their kids’ location. The question remains: at what age should a child get a cell phone?
A 2016 survey reports that the average kid gets their first phone at age 10, but opinions about the timing of device use vary widely. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and father of three children, has said that he didn’t allow his kids to get phones until age 14. Other tech titans have similar rules.
In 2017, Brooke Shannon, an Austin mom concerned about screen time for young kids, founded Wait Until 8th, a nonprofit organization that encourages parents to pledge to wait until kids are at least in the 8th grade (age 13 or 14) to get them a phone. The pledge, which has been signed by more than 20,000 parents, sites various reasons for the delay, including smart phones’ penchant for distraction and possible addiction.
Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that supports digital well-being for kids, suggests parents think about their child’s maturity level rather than his or her age. Questions to consider include the following: Do your kids show a sense of responsibility? Can they adhere to the rules you set? Once parents are satisfied with the answers, the time could be right for their kids.
Good Housekeeping‘s Chief Technologist, Rachel Rothman, says that regardless of a child’s age, his or her first phone should have simple, limited features. Consider starting with a hand-me-down device or one without a contract or data plan.
Read on for Rothman’s picks for the best cell phones for kids at every age, including the cell phone with the best parental controls and a bonus pick for parents looking for a GPS-only device.
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Good First Phone: Jitterbug Flip
The same features that make this no-frills phone ideal for seniors, including an easy-to-read display screen, simple navigation, and emergency button, mean it’s great for kids, too. The Jitterbug allows users to talk, text, and take photos, but doesn’t connect to the internet.
Good for Little Kids: Relay Kids Phone Alternative
This simple, screen-free device functions as a GPS tracker and walkie talkie. Little ones simply press and hold the button to leave family members a message, which they receive immediately on their Relay app. The phone comes in five colors and offers various channels that allow kids to listen to music and hear jokes.
Good for Games: VTech KidiBuzz
KidiBuzz is an established kids electronics toy company, so it’s no surprise this phone comes preloaded with 44 games that explore math, science, and spelling, and allows kids to take photos and use photo filters, frames and digital stickers. Parents control the phone’s call and text contact list as well as accessible websites and app downloads. The tough case and shatter-proof screen are built to withstand the inevitable rough handling.
Good for Photos: iPod touch
The iPod Touch offers many of the features of an iPhone, without access to a cellular network. That means kids can use Facetime, listen to music, play games, and take photos anytime, but can only access the internet or make phone calls when there is an available Wi-Fi network. Plus, parents can use iOS parental controls to set content and privacy restrictions as well and prevent kids from making in-app or other purchases.
Good for Older Kids: Nokia 6.1
For the price, this phone, built with a solid aluminum body, gets top marks for toughness, not an insignificant factor when looking for a device right for kids. The extra-large screen and fingerprint sensor mean this phone is super simple to use. And with the Android operating system, you’ll have the benefit of top-notch cloud services and an easy interface with Google apps like Gmail and Google Maps.
Good for GPS: Jiobit
The Jiobit isn’t a phone, but if your main concern is keeping track of your child’s whereabouts, this device could fit the bill. Its advanced GPS tracker offers detailed location and route history as well as instant notification when his or her location changes. The inconspicuous device attaches easily to a shoe string, waistband, or button hole.
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