For many people, the mere idea of giving a mobile phone to a small child is enough to bring them out in a cold sweat, with images of four figure telephone bills and a child permanently glued to their handset as if it were some kind of high tech comfort blanket.
The Firefly is currently the most popular cell phone on the market to be specifically aimed at children, and with its bright colour schemes, cartoony designs and screen animations, it is not hard to see why. It features three large, brightly coloured buttons that will allow even young children to contact mum, dad, or the emergency services at the touch of a button. There are a number of parental control features, such as a PIN protected phone book that lets parents set the numbers that their child is allowed to call, and an option to prevent incoming calls from numbers that are not on the list.
Parents who get nervous when their children are off on their own might want to have a look at the Wherifone, which features a GPS function that allows you to see where your child is at any given time via a computer connected to the internet. This can also come in quite handy if the phone gets lost, as the GPS can tell you where it is to within an accuracy of a few metres. It also features all the usual parental controls that you would associate with phones aimed at the younger market.
The LeapFrog TicTalk features perhaps the most comprehensive and detailed parental control options of any of the kiddie phones currently on the market. There is a PIN-controlled address book, and you can designate the times of day that certain numbers can and can’t be called. There is also the capacity to download photos and a to do list, making the LeapFrog TicTalk perfect as both a fun device and something that can be used to encourage time management skills.
Although the Disney mobile service is more about content than hardware, their own phones are certainly quite impressive, with a number of features that are more common in adult phones, such as a flip top design and an SMS text messaging feature, but you can still set parental controls on any activity that you want to restrict using a PIN code. These phones are perfect for slightly older kids who maybe want a more grown up phone but are not quite ready for that level of responsibility yet.
One of the biggest concerns about giving an expensive mobile phone to children is that children have a habit of losing or breaking their possessions. Although it is not specifically aimed at children. the Tracfone is a cheap, durable phone that comes with a pay as you go price plan and parental controls, which make it suitable for the younger market.
The ChatNow phone set is not really a cell phone at all, rather a two way radio with many of the functions of a modern cell phone, such as text messaging and photo sharing. The main advantage of these is that they don’t use the cell phone network, so all communications are free, although they can only work with other ChatNow devices within a two mile radius.