Cell Phone Options for Kids

If it's time to provide your child with a cell phone, whether for safety and accountability when she's away from home or to enable her to communicate conveniently, you have many options for your youngster's cell phone service. Choose your child's service plan carefully because many service features may be undesirable or even inappropriate for your child, inviting inappropriate activity, warns physician Matthew Davis, with the University of Michigan Medical School.

Prepaid Plans

Prepaid cell phone plans enable parents to provide their children phones so they can place calls when needed without the concern of minute usage getting out of hand and driving the phone bill too high. You purchase a specific number of minutes in advance, and when the minutes are gone, you purchase more minutes or you lose service. Some of the phones available on a prepaid plan are inexpensive, giving parents the peace of mind about the child not carrying an expensive piece of equipment that can get lost or damaged. Parents can also use prepaid plans to reward good behavior or grades. If the child meets a goal, more minutes may be added for personal use.

Pre-Programmed Phone Numbers

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Some phone plans come with the ability to pre-program phone numbers that the parents can control. You may also program incoming call numbers. If you already have a family phone plan with one of the mobile services, you may be able to add one of these phones for a small monthly fee. Price ranges of programmable cell phones vary, so you may want to select an inexpensive one for your child's first mobile phone experience.

Limited Calling Phones

Limited calling phones give children the ability to communicate without the safety risks of regular cell phones. The child may be able to call home, the parents and a friend or two. These phones offer a limited number of programmable numbers, and parents can choose what those numbers are. The keypads on some of the limited number callers may be simplified with only three or four numbers available to the child and an emergency key that allows the child to call emergency services. Some limited calling phones enable you to place a limit on the number of minutes for each call. Most of these phones allow you to program the numbers of incoming calls your child can accept. You may choose a limited calling phone with GPS for an added element of safety.