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Imagine walking into your child's first grade class during break time, and seeing that some of the children are playing with toy cell phones. Would it come as a shock to realize that these colorful "toys" are actually real, functioning cell phones?
According to marketing firm C&R Research, 22 percent of children aged 6 to 9 and 60 percent of pre-teens aged 10 to 14 own a cell phone. Phone makers are recognizing this trend toward younger users, and have begun manufacturing brightly colored cell phones, many with talk, text, music, and photo features to target pre-teens and even their younger siblings. Cell phones for kids can provide an emergency line for children in dangerous situations, the real-time location of your child, and scheduling convenience—but wading through the countless options of kid-friendly phones can be daunting.
If you're considering buying a phone for your little one, be sure she understands the difference between a plastic toy and the phone you'll use to communicate with her. You need to make sure that your child is responsible enough to care for a cell phone, says Dr. Anita Gurian from the NYU School of Medicine. She adds, "a child needs to be able to adhere to a specific set of rules and guidelines... cell phones are not toys."
Check out these cell phone models that boast safety details, cool colors and user-friendly features that make them ideal for young kids.
• Kajeet Optimus Android (from $149.99): This model represents the high-end of the price (and age) range of Kajeet phones. The Smart-Blocker feature allows you to control access to websites and rest easy, while the touch-screen, 3.2 megapixel camera and video recorder, mp3 player and Android operating system will have even the pickiest teens begging for one. Internet access and the price make this an ideal phone for an older, more mature teen.
• Kajeet Kids Sanyo (from $89.99): Mid-range Kajeet Sanyo models, like the Sanyo Katana 2 and the Sanyo 2700, come in a range of bright colors such as pink, blue and purple. The Katana 2 boasts a sleek flip-phone design, color screen, digital camera and web browsing capabilities. The Sanyo 2700 has a full keyboard, a large LCD color screen, and a 1.3 megapixel camera. Your tween will go gaga over the cool designs, lightweight model and organization features available for these phones.
• Kajeet LG 102 (from $24.99): This basic model is the cheapest that Kajeet offers, yet it's sleek appearance, LCD color screen, voice-activated dialing and special "text messaging key" are sure to keep any tech-savvy kid happy.
All Kajeet phones come with award-winning parental controls, such as number blocking, website blocking, GPS tracking, and scheduling times (such as during the school day or after bedtime) when the phone is inoperable. You'll feel secure with the option of switching off photo messaging and downloading, knowing that your child won't be "sexting" or accessing other inappropriate content on their phone. In addition, you can set up a phone budget for your kid, which can be adjusted to reward for a great test score, or as punishment for breaking house rules. These controls can be managed easily online.
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