What's the best cell phone for kids?

Honestly, the best cell phone for kids is one they use responsibly and respectfully, in accordance with the guidelines you've discussed. Any phone could fit this description. But, kids being kids -- and the rapid pace of technology -- make this ideal hard to achieve. That's where devices specifically designed for kids can make boundary-setting easier, because they have limited options.

For younger kids, consider bare-bones phones with only the features they need to stay in touch with you. As kids get older, they'll be interested in fuller-featured phones with bells and whistles. A good compromise is a device you can customize to suit everyone's needs and wants. If you're going to give kids a smartphone, turn off some of the advanced features (downloading apps, for example) until they've demonstrated responsible ownership.

Here are some ideas for kids' cell phones:

Young kids: Look for phones with very simple controls, big buttons, and extremely limited features. Phones that only make calls to a short list of contacts and that have no games, no Web access, and no camera are good choices. Consider the Sprint WeGo, the Firefly, or the FiliP 2, a watch that makes calls to an abbreviated contact list and receives -- but can't send -- texts.

Tweens: Phones that look grown-up but offer limited features or that come with a service that allows you to customize options are good choices for older kids. Take a look at the Kurio phone, the Kajeet service, the Just5, or the TracFone, which can't download apps. 

Does your kid have a special kid phone?

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Kid, 11 years old

I don't think that kids 9 and under should have a phone like a IPhone 9 because the way the world is these days. My school went under lockdown because a kid threatened to bring a gun to school. I have an LG which I think is good for a 11 year old. I just think people need to be more aware of what people are posting. Cause I don't think posting born to kill without anything being done is smart. I don't understand why I can't have Facebook or Instagram because the smarter young kids could help stop all these school shootings and massacres. I just think as a society we should all be more aware of what people are posting and saying. For example at my school me and a couple of my classmates said what is one thing you wish you can do without getting in trouble and a kid said kill all of you on this paper. He was suspended 9 times at his old school without getting expelled and 7 at ours without getting expelled. I also think the parents should step up their game so kids don't end up hurting others or themselves. They should start caring.
Parent of a 2 and 10 year old written by Rachel N.

Personally, I'm so on the fence about getting my 10 year old a phone next school year. She is, of course, begging, because she wants to text her friends (who are also still using their mom's phones to text, just like my daughter currently is). But, she's about to start up at a school pretty far from home, so I'm partially considering the idea about a phone. I love the tracking option on the GizmoGadget watch, and how it straps onto her body, but I can't figure out if it can do texting. A dumb phone is also nice, because we won't have to pay the extra $40-a-month for the mandatory data plan Verizon requires with a smart phone. But otherwise, I'm considering a "dumb phone" because I don't want the distraction or danger of a smart phone (unsupervised internet access with all of the cyber bullying and predators online? and games during school? no thanks!) But I also don't want to spend much because the chances of my child losing the phone are 95%, because she keeps losing her glasses, coat, lunch box, homework, and pretty much everything else. Of course, since my daughter is just wanting the phone for texting, I'm also considering just getting her a Google Voice account and she can text on a PC or maybe with an iPod touch on the school's or our home wifi (except there's my fear of loss or damage to such a device). I'm still a bit amazed by this seemingly common expectation that kids have phones. How did we ever survive in the 80s and 90s without cell phones?! LOL But at the same time, they took away all the pay phones, so it's a little harder to just up and call your parents now. You actually have to, you know, ask the school office, your friends parents, or go into a business and ask to use their phone. Oh man, such a crazy idea! ;-) (Totally not judging anyone, as every kid and every family is different, but I'm just still shocked that the tone of articles like this one are such that it's like there's no other reality but for kids to have cell phones.) On the other hand, my husband is thinking we should get her a dumb phone "for emergencies." It's definitely convenient both for the kid to be able to call, and for the parents to be able to call the kids. I'll give you that. :-)
Parent of a 2 and 10 year old written by Rachel N.

PC Mag has a good article with information about current phones for kids: https://www.pcmag.com/feature/329583/the-best-phones-for-kids
Teen, 16 years old written by Hulksmash322

Here's the problem, I'm a 16 year old myself, and all of you that are trashing this article, this wasn't for you. My High School went into a code red today because there was someone around the school with a gun. That's just the age that we're living in nowadays, sad but true. This article is for someone like my mom who is wondering what kind of phone to get my 5 year old brother because she doesn't want him trapped in a room for an hour not knowing if he's safe. Some kids don't have the capacity to handle a smarter phone without getting distracted by all of the games in class or becoming indifferent to what is going on around them. Phones today are very different from the ones from when I was a kid. I got my baby brother an ipod one Christmas and I honestly wish I hadn't. He doesn't get to experience family game nights or having fun because he's too trapped in his phone. It's a big problem these days. Some kids only need something simple to get in contact with their parents in times of trouble. I'm not saying that kids don't need phones at all because it has certainly become a large part of culture, but a kid doesn't need to have an iPhone 10 or galaxy s9 at 5 and 6 years old.
Teen, 15 years old written by Ari A.

This is so mean! I first got a phone when I was 9 because I was responsible. My parents never had an issue with me having a phone. This is so strict.
Kid, 11 years old

We aren't idiots, we don't need a stupid phone that can't download apps or have Internet access.
Adult written by Laurel V.

I would like to see more answers to the question posed by the article- “does your kid have a special kid phone?” I would also like the article to have a date posted. Most of the phones listed here are no longer available, the others are $200. My hunt for a kid friendly phone continues.
Parent written by Robyn F.

When I bought phones for both of my children, I had no clue that you could get these 'child safe' phones to help protect your children while they're on the internet. However, the main concern for me when buying my children phones were if they would be able to look after the phone, and not loose it, or have it forcefully taken from them. I easily solved this problem by purchasing I watched for both of them, so they would be able to track their devices.I bought the Iphone 5s for my eldest child when she was 8, when she started asking for one. She is now currently using the Iphone 7 plus, as the 5s Does not have a AR feature with her favourite game. However, my younger child has never asked me for their own phone, and seemed content with a Ipad, and I had to transition him into using a Iphone 7 this year. Even though I have bought both my children mobile phones before the age most children have them, I feel that I have made the right choice getting them, as the technology is getting more and more advanced with every new product released, and as the next generation, our children need to keep up this. If you a concerned about your child misusing their phone, I suggest buying them a Ipod/Ipad for personal use at a earlier age, and wait until you feel they are responsible enough, before buying a proper phone for them, so they are able to make their own way in the digital world.
Teen, 16 years old written by Heyhaley

My personal take on this is that if children have a decent reason on why they should get a phone and you have a trusting relationship with your child, then look into getting them a phone. I still don't have my own phone and I'm 16 years old. I use an ipod that I got when I was in the seventh grade. I think that if your child is asking for Internet access not a phone, then look into getting them a tablet or an ipod because they would have Internet access without the monthly bill of a phone. I think that if your child is asking for a phone under the age of 12 you might want to askip yourself, "why does my child need a phone? Who do they have to call? What kind of apps will they have access to? Am I ready for the cost of one? What will they be doing on it?" To me these are valid questions worth taking the time to answer. Children will need a phone eventually but if they don't have a good reason why they want and/or need one, does your kid really need a phone then?
Teen, 15 years old written by mkv2326

I'd definitely recommend getting your child a phone between age 12 and the beginning of high school. By that time (and sometimes even earlier) it becomes a norm that the kid owns a phone, so technology is used more often in class and for extracurricular activities.
Teen, 14 years old written by scholarlyleopard

Here's my weigh in: It depends on the age of the child. Personally, I agree with what it says for young kids and tweens. I didn't get a phone until I was a month from turning 13 -- it was a Christmas gift. Until then, I didn't care! It will not affect your child in school that much. If you have a computer, there are many more apps you can look at for them to keep in touch with friends. While there were a few girls that had phones, and at the time I did feel jealous, I realize now how unnecessary it would have been, and I'm grateful I didn't get one sooner. Perhaps you could look into an iPod or Tablet instead of a phone at all? And iPod worked especially well for my family -- the oldest generation they were selling was affordable and hooked up to the internet, so I could text my mom from school about me walking home, and if you have an iPhone, you can make "FaceTime Audio Calls" -- essentially just a phone call, but minus the extra to pay for the service, lol. I'd say 13 is the perfect age to have a smartphone, before that, it's not really essential. My sister got a phone at 10, and she's been obsessed ever since. Got into quite a bit of trouble with her friends over some group chat texts -- these kids are *too young* to know how to responsibly manage a cell phone, and they won't appreciate it later on as I did. If you need your child to have a phone because you work and you need to be able to call them, I'd look into the most basic phone you can have, so they can only call you, or ask for permission before adding in friends. I hoped this helped!