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Cell phone options for kids

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Kid-friendly phones and plans

What type of cell phone options are there for kids? Once you have decided your child is ready for a cell phone, it's time to pick the right type of cell phone and right plan. For kids, the cell phone is a lifeline used for talking, texting, watching videos, playing games, checking email and downloading music. Finding just the right calling plan and phone can be a challenge! Here, experts help you narrow down the choices.

Teen with cell phone

Family plans


Once upon a time, "family calling plan" meant everyone took turns using the one phone in the house. Not so today! The consumer website CellPhoneFamilyPlans.net reviewed a variety of family plans and chose the best of the top four providers:

Verizon Wireless lets you customize the perfect package for your family with the Plan Builder. Base your plan on how much each family member talks, texts, surfs and downloads, add additional features and then pick friends, family and minutes.

T-Mobile family plans start with two people. Add additional family members for a basic fee per person. Select unlimited calling or less-expensive plans starting at 750 minutes/month, and enjoy free nationwide calling to other T-Mobile customers, free nights and weekends, and some Whenever Minutes to use anytime.

AT&T family plans range from 550 nationwide minutes to unlimited worldwide minutes. The Mobile-to-Mobile unlimited calling plan lets you call other AT&T cell phone customers whenever you want, and the AT&T Rollover plan lets you save unused minutes.

Sprint's Everything Family Plan features unlimited data services, including web surfing, email, GPS, and music and TV channels. Teens appreciate unlimited text messaging and unlimited nationwide talk with no roaming charges.

Unlimited texting

Teens use their phones primarily for texting. You've probably heard horror stories about the exorbitant overage fees charged when teens exceed your plan's texting limit. Whether a message contains one word ("Hey!") or a complete rundown of last night's date, it counts as a text.

Avoid worrying about overage fees by getting a plan with unlimited texting -- and jump on the texting bandwagon yourself. Texting is a great way to stay in touch with your child, who's more likely to respond to your text than to your phone call – especially when out with friends.

Quick TipDo you know text speak, such as POS or F2F? For your child's safety, you should! Find out how to decipher text-speak here.

Data plans

Talk to your teen about a data plan for web browsing so she can check her email or watch YouTube videos while standing in line for a concert. Data plans have the added benefit of GPS capability – she won't get lost while out and about, and you can keep track of her location.

Up next: The best phones for kids and teens >>

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