I should probably get to my disclosures up front in this one, because there are a few. I first heard about Kajeet, the new cell phone service for kids, when I got an e-mail from Craig Peters, their director of online marketing and communications. Craig wrote me back in June because he'd found the Jumping Monkeys podcast and he wanted to introduce me to Kajeet. He gave me a little bit of background about the service and we discussed the possibility of Kajeet sponsoring Jumping Monkeys.
Kajeet sounded really interesting, but I have to say that I didn't spend too much time thinking about it. Kajeet is aimed at tweens and we're light years away from that stage in our house (or so I'd like to believe.)
A few months later MomCentral asked me to review a Kajeet phone for their blog tour. I signed up and they sent me a phone and a $20 phone card to try out the service. I played with the phone for a few weeks, checked out all the features on the phone and the Web site and I was really impressed. It's obvious that the Kajeet phone service was designed by parents, not just people who try to imagine what parents might need.
Kajeet used kid beta testers to help design the phones, so I would hope that that means that tweens would like them. Since I'm not one and I don't have one, I can't tell you whether all that tween-speak on the Web site and the phone controls is appealing or annoying to kids. I can say, however, that as a parent I'm very impressed with the parental controls.
I never gave much thought to kids cell phones, but the more I read the more I learned just how dangerous it might be to give your child a regular cell phone. First consider the fact that standard phones allow your child to call anyone (thereby automatically giving anyone their cell phone number). Many plans allow you to buy ringtones and sign up for difference services. That's basically the same as handing over your credit card to your child. They'll be charged for those services and you'll be the one who has to pay.
Here are a few ways Kajeet can help you manage your child's cell phone:
- You set who your kids can call.
- You set the hours when your kids can call, to help keep them from making calls at school. (The exception to this is that they can always call home and they can always call 911.)
- You give your kids a phone allowance, which can help teach them how to budget their money. They can buy ringtones. They can buy wallpaper. They can text or make phone calls. One they've spent their allowance, that's it.
- There are no contracts and no monthly fees, thereby allowing you and your children to be fickle about the plan. Instead you get charged by the day.
I am not buying my children (ages 4.5, 2.5, and 2.5) a cell phone anytime soon. But when the time does come I'm definitely going to consider Kajeet and I'd recommend it to anyone with tweens who they think are ready for their own phone.