Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Your kid has a cell phone?

Yes. She's 11. And cell phones happen. Plus, she's been bugging me for one for like, agggeeess.

Mainly, it's because I need her to call me when she gets certain places, and many places don't have pay phones anymore, and, seriously, who carries dimes and quarters? It used to be there were pay phones everywhere, and everyone had change wallets, or at least pockets of change. Now, we have debit cards and cell phones.

Due to the dearth (my we do love alliteration) of pay phone booths and public access phones, we, (and by we I mean me) chose the Tracfone.

First, every other pre-paid phone I looked at charged daily access fees. Not bad for an adult without a cell phone plan, but she's 11, and I only need her to call me briefly every day to let me know she's at the library. So that means, using Verizon's phone, even with their new plan, the one they charge you only on days you use the phone, well, I'd pay $20 a month for a two minute phone call, and that is apart from the pre-paid airtime I'd need to buy.
For less than that, I could just add her to my own plan.

The entire reasoning behind a pre-paid phone is so I don't have to pay a monthly charge for a phone that isn't going to be used as much as, say, mine. Nor do I want to allow her to spend hours gabbing incessantly to her friends on my dime.

No, the cell phone is for emergencies, to call me up when she arrives or is leaving somewhere, or to ask if she can change her plans mid-plan. Or to generally annoy me. I don't want to pay a daily access charge for a phone calls that last under a minute.

I chose the tracfone because the phone only works as long as you have purchased airtime, and you are only charged for the airtime you use. There is no monthly fee, no daily fee, no access to the network fee, no, it's just, you bought two hours of air time, you get two hours of airtime. think it's the perfect phone for kids, although it isn't a bright shiny phone.

To make up for it's lack of cool colorness, I let her buy a phone charm from target. Seriously, a pink crystal skull. I didn't even know these things existed.

I can monitor it (the phone, not the skull) online, purchase her minutes online, keep track of her minutes online, and the phone itself is a decent flip-top Motorolla that while not as cheap as I'd like for a kid phone, will last a heck-n-crap longer than the other cheap phone she briefly owned.

I completely blew off Kajeet and all other kid-specific phones as an option because there are easier, less expensive ways to help a child manage their cell phone, and frankly, I have a hard enough time managing a real budget, never mind a 'split phone time' budget... however if you want to utterly control your child's phone life, the Kajeet is a good option that the media just adores...

In my opinion, kid-friendly phones are nice, parental gimmicks that allows cell-phone companies to exploit both parents and kids. I concede the 'parental shut off' of the phone is nice, but I feel at the 8-14 year old age range, it's just as easy to take the phone away during study time, and all schools forbid cell phones in the classroom anyhow, so there's no need to manage it during the school day. But then, I also feel cell phones shouldn't be put in the hands of children in elementary school, because children in elementary school are rarely outside parental supervision.

Of course, if you absolutely must be victimized by kid friendly phones, and do want one, there's a bunch more to check out, like Firefly, or Disney's.

My tween wanted a real cell phone, though, and I wanted total control of the account. This is why I chose the tracfone. Nice, simple, real and easily manageable since the account is in my name, and if she wants to chat for two hours, she's more than welcome to buy her own airtime.

But, to be fair, if you're thinking of buying a prepaid cell phone, check this place out, it reviews all the cell phone plans out there.

If you think I'm insane for getting an 11 year old a cell phone, well, but gee, all the other kids have one....

...and just today, she's off, wandering two blocks of downtown

Mommy needs her to have this phone just as much as she wants it!

No comments: