Cell phones are more than just hip accessories. They can be essential tools for keeping in touch during emergencies, or just for keeping tabs on your kids while you're at work or when they're out with friends. Of course, once you buy your child a cell phone, they'll want to do more with it than simply talk to their parents, so you have to set some limits. Here are some tips on buying the right cell phone for your child.
If your child is in elementary school, your best bet is a "kiddie phone" like the Firefly glowPhone. The glowPhone is a cutesie handset with bare-bones features. It doesn't even have a keypad - it can only call pre-programmed numbers, and incoming calls can be restricted as well. Middle school kids will want "real" cell phones, which you can get through Kajeet (*Est. $5 monthly), a service that offers lots of parental controls but uses handsets from LG, Samsung and Sanyo. Most carriers offer parental controls as well, opening up your options. These can help keep costs down and your child safe. We've got more tips and recommendations in our Cell Phones for Kids article as well as a companion article on parental controls.