I’ve had mixed feeling about buying my son (who is 11-years-old) a cell phone.
As someone who works with technology, I want him to have exposure to the technology at a young age so he has a certain comfort level with such devices. I also want him to be able to hack his way through problem and basically just have experience with technology now instead of when he’s an adult.
No, I didn’t buy him a iPhone (although that would have been the ultimate), I can’t afford such a phone for myself, let alone my son!
Instead, we went with a Samsung Seek cell phone with featured a “no contract” $19.99 service plan offered by Kajeet:
The Kajeet $19.99 plan includes 150 anytime minutes (pathetic huh…), but also unlimited texting!
Initially I balked at the 150 anytime minutes, but my son convinced me that he wouldn’t be using the phone except for when we called him anyway. Surprisingly, he just wanted to text.
I was dubious that he would use the text feature (I’ve never seen him text before), but once the phone arrived, he was texting like a pro. I couldn’t believe how quickly he adapted to this new form of communication! In fact, I don’t think he’s used what I consider the cell phone part of the phone yet.
A cell phone is more than just a cell phone to a kid! It’s a status symbol for those that have a phone and communicate with one another, and those that don’t have a cell phone and can’t play in the modern tech playground. While he did a good job resisting at first to the temptations (he’s a great kid), all of his friends kept asking when he was going to get one. Finally, he broke down and asked me. I’m not the heavy when it comes to technology or science gifts in the family so I said I was okay with it. He’s getting smarter! Had he went to his mom first, she would have said “no”, and that would have been the end of the story.
Special Conditions With The Phone
I’m always looking for a chance to bring finances into the picture. So while I bought the phone for $150, I made a deal with my son. I told him that while I’d cover the cost of the phone, he would have to pay half of the cost of the $20 monthly service plan. While $10 isn’t a lot, when you only get about $44 a month, it’s almost a quarter of the money that you get each month!
He got a small pained look in his face when I told him that, but he still wanted to go ahead with it anyway. I was proud that he made such a quick and absolute decision. If it were me making the decision, it would probably had taken me at least a week to mull it over.
So if you have a young child, consider going with the Kajeet option if they primarily want it for texting.
Oh, one more perk is that it comes with a GPS built-in. This way if we decided we want to track him for whatever reason, we can do so. Of course we won’t, but at least it’s an option. Note that with the $19.99 plan, each use of the GPS capabilities is an extra fee per use. Had we going with the next higher service plan (at $27.00), the GPS tracking would have been included in the higher price.
If you have the money, I would recommend buying your child a cell phone, if they start asking for one. So far, for us it has been a very positive experience.