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Cell phone for a kid, with texting and/or email capability

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:57 pm
I've already done some research but this is one of those questions where human fuzzy logic helps more than search terms (at least the search terms I've come up with so far).

My kid (age 9.5) is becoming increasingly free-range and while I approve of that, I'd like a way to contact her without having to be face-to-face. She can't use other people's phones or pay phones to call me (I'm deaf) and pay phones are increasingly scarce anyway. Not all of her friends or friends' parents who have phones have texting capability. And I'd just like her to have something reliable -- her own -- rather than needing to have someone around with the right kind of phone.

Does anyone know of a phone (or other device) that would work for this? I think when I was first asking about getting something for myself, DrewDad mentioned an email-only option that was cheap but I can't remember now what it was.

I'd like for this to be:

- Cheap (device and/ or monthly fee -- willing to pay more for the device if the monthly fee is low, but she's a kid and might lose it, drop it, etc., so would prefer cheap across the board)

- Capable of text-based (SMS or email) communication

That's about it. The ability to make voice calls is fine but not required. It doesn't have to be a device meant for kids, she's figured out more features on my Blackberry than I have. (I currently have a Blackberry Curve with Sprint, a special deal for deaf customers, unlimited data ~$40/month.) She's a pretty good typist.

Any ideas?

Thanks!
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 10,791 • Replies: 32
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:03 pm
@sozobe,
This looks promising:

http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/mobile-e-mail-for-5-bucks-a-month

hmm and this:

http://www.getpeek.com/index.htm

(finally lit on some useful search terms, "cheap email mobile")
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:14 pm
Some sites to check out:

http://deafness.about.com/b/2008/04/17/need-a-text-only-cell-phone-plan.htm

This one gives a summary of many text-only cell phone plans:

http://www.squidoo.com/text_messaging_plans



sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:17 pm
@Butrflynet,
OK, thanks.

Peek looks very interesting but the delay in arrival times is a big problem. From an Amazon review:

Quote:
B. Email & Text Send/Receive Speed - This will be a sticking point for current and potential Peek buyers. For the first 5 days, delays in receiving and sending email/text messages varied. Sometimes I'd receive new email within seconds or minutes. There were times I'd get new email 5-10 minutes after they appear in my Gmail webmail. When I send/receive text messages, they sometimes arrive instantaneously, fail to reach their recipient, or arrive on the person's cell phone a day later (!). So, by all means, don't use the Peek when you need to contact a person on short notice. Call them instead.


I'm imagining using this to have quick negotiations about where she's going, who she'll be with, when she's coming home, etc., and 5-10 minute delay wouldn't work.


I already sent an email to Sprint to find out what my options are for adding something to my current account.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:24 pm
If you want to go the pre-paid plan route, this is the phone I bought for myself when I drove from California to Albuquerque a year ago. The phone cost $20 and six months ago, I filled it with 500 minutes of air time and a 1 year usage plan for $75.

They have numerous flavors of the phone with additional bells and whistles.

http://www.tracfone.com/

0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:25 pm
@sozobe,
Could she get away with just an iPod touch with no monthly plan and use wifi? That is, is she pretty much always in wifi range?
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:26 pm
@sozobe,
VirginMobile seems to be very popular with the commenters on the about.com site.

http://www.virginmobileusa.com/transform?page=plans&open=plan|/plan-detail-flash.html?planid=ptd
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:34 pm
Here's another site on about.com that has updated info (the first one is from 2008):

http://deafness.about.com/cs/instantandmobile/a/wireless.htm
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:42 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quite possibly. Not sure how to check.


Buttrflynet, Sprint bought Virgin Mobile and the options are less attractive now.


I'm chatting with Sprint now, looks like I could get a free phone (Blackberries et al) and add her line to mine for a total of $45/ month (I now pay $30, not $40 as I said before, so it'd be an additional $15/ month).
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:48 pm
@sozobe,
Quote:
I'm chatting with Sprint now, looks like I could get a free phone (Blackberries et al) and add her line to mine for a total of $45/ month (I now pay $30, not $40 as I said before, so it'd be an additional $15/ month).


Nope, it'd be $45/ month in ADDITION to my $30/ month. Shyeah right.
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 02:43 pm
@sozobe,
One thought on price of phone - if you are really afraid she may lose it or break it, you could always buy the insurance on it. Although if you get a really cheap phone who cares. But at least if you end up buying something more expensive, you won't have to worry so much.

I am not sure how much the insurance is on a cell phone, but my husband has it and it covers for pretty much anything for him. And he does need it as it seems his phone breaks often - don't know what he does with it.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 03:36 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
Quite possibly. Not sure how to check.


Well it'd pretty much be if she can connect to wifi at all the friend's houses. It certainly would be a very spotty connection but it'd be free.

Quote:
Buttrflynet, Sprint bought Virgin Mobile and the options are less attractive now.


Have you checked out Boost Mobile?

http://www.boostmobile.com/

If you get the right plan (e.g. prepaid web-only one for .35 cents a day) and only use web to communicate (e.g. webmail) that might be a cheap option.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:23 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

sozobe wrote:
Quite possibly. Not sure how to check.


Well it'd pretty much be if she can connect to wifi at all the friend's houses. It certainly would be a very spotty connection but it'd be free.


I see. Yeah, probably too spotty for my purposes.

Quote:


Have you checked out Boost Mobile?

http://www.boostmobile.com/

If you get the right plan (e.g. prepaid web-only one for .35 cents a day) and only use web to communicate (e.g. webmail) that might be a cheap option.


That looks promising! She has an Earthlink email address now, could just use that. Thanks!
Swimpy
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:25 pm
@sozobe,
I have a NET10 phone. http://www.net10.com/howitworks.jsp?nextPage=howitworks.jsp&task=howitworks

10 cents a minute for calls. 5 cents per text. You can buy phones and airtime cards locally or buy them online.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:44 pm
@Swimpy,
Also interesting, thanks Swimpy.

The Net10 only offers one qwerty keypad (I'd prefer that since she'd be doing so much texting -- it doesn't have to be qwerty layout but I'd prefer that it be one key per letter rather than the number pads with three letters grouped per key), it's the most expensive they offer but at $80 it's not bad at all for a phone.
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 07:33 pm
@sozobe,
Look at this, they have "texter's delight" very cheap

http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 07:41 pm
@sozobe,
I'd get her off Earthlink. Always avoid ISP-provided email as often it is no longer available if you change ISPs.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 11:47 am
@CalamityJane,
Hey, and the mobile web seems to be only $5/ month? I think that's what I read that they're phasing out like next week... I've read so much now that it all kinda runs together. Anyway that definitely looks interesting.

Robert, yeah, I know what you mean. I have Earthlink and can add several other accounts so I did that for her. Can easily set up a Yahoo or gmail or whatever email for her.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 02:42 pm
Hey now!

Just got an email from Apple. If you buy a computer with educational pricing (which we're eligible for 'cause of Professor E.G.), you get a free iPod Touch!

Here's the thing -- we're RIGHT on the brink of buying a mac with educational pricing! Like, almost bought one last weekend.

If we get one free, I think that could work great. She couldn't contact me from just anywhere, but the library (a frequent after-school kid stop) has free Wi-Fi, and there are lots of other spots too. I have to check if the school has Wi-Fi -- very possible.

And at home we have wireless internet.

At the very least I could maybe try bartering it or something.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 03:42 pm
@sozobe,
Great news. Well, I am biased..
0 Replies
 
 

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