The Cell Phone Experiment

by Jennifer Donovan

After school started this year, Amanda began asking me, “When do you think I’ll get a cell phone?”

She assured me that everyone in her 4th grade class had a cell phone. She could only come up with two names when pressed, even though I’m certain there are more than two people in her class. As the year has gone on, the list has received additions: “Marie got a cell phone,” she informed me one day after chatting with her friend on the bus.

I was recently contacted by Kajeet to try out and review their cell phone with all the features that a tween wants and a parent needs. I knew Amanda would love having a phone with a camera, games, and other fun features. As I parent, I thought that I would enjoy the control features that Kajeet offers.

There have already been a couple times when I have loaned mine to her for convenience or safety, so I’m interested to see how having one might change our perspective on whether or not we think she should have one.

Over the next month or so, I will be sharing our experience and evaluating the features and usefulness.  I’m not sure what it will take to convince me that she “needs” a cell phone.  In fact, even if I decide she can keep it, it will be because I’ve decided to let her enjoy the fun features, not because it’s something she has to have.

Time will tell . . . and guess what? When I’ve made my assessment, one of you will have the chance to win one of your own– so stay tuned.

What is your opinion of tweens and young teens having cell phones? 



Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie April 25, 2008 at 5:57 pm

I actually think it’s great when I see tweens and teens that have cell phones (for the most part). Our daughter is only 19-months-old, but I’m guessing that we’ll give her a cell phone when she is in elementary school. It would make me feel so much better if I knew we could reach each other anytime. Plus, I like the idea of her learning to use the phone from an early age.

I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts about your experience with the phone in your next post. I’m really interested in phones that have parental control features and I’ve never heard of the Kajeet brand.

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2 Scarlet O'Kara April 25, 2008 at 6:16 pm

My 4 year old would love a cell phone. She has several play phones and likes to take mine when I’m not looking. Not sure when we will get her one, but it would be nice to be able to reach her in an emergency or vice versa.

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3 alida April 25, 2008 at 6:18 pm

My sons were 17 and 14 when they got their cell phones. We had just moved to Russia and we felt the need for everyone to be able to keep in contact! We can put money on the phones whenever we need to so there is no monthly phone bill to worry about. And I can text message all of my guys when I need help carrying home groceries!

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4 Susan April 25, 2008 at 6:45 pm

I think it’s great for kids to have cell phones for safety reasons. And it’s fantastic that there are phones made with special features to keep parents in control. I bet you’ll love her having it almost as much as she loves it.

(At not yet 3, Julia isn’t quite in the market for a phone, but when she’s in elementary school I’ll definitely get her one.)

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5 Katrina (Callapidder Days) April 25, 2008 at 7:09 pm

I think 2 kids in Camden’s 3rd-grade class have cell phones, but I know that number will grow. We’re holdouts at the moment, and probably will be for a while. But I’m sure the eventually — if only for my own convenience — he’ll get one. If I can convince my husband, that is…

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6 Heather April 25, 2008 at 8:03 pm

I have an “extra” cell phone. My company issued me one, and so I kept my personal one, dropped it to the lowest plan and keep it around for when one of my kids go somewhere and i might need to get ahold of them and I’ve just started sending it to them when they go to their dads.

Note, they do not carry it all the time, nor will they ever. The day they get their OWN cellphone is the day they can pay their OWN bill.. :D

But I do like having the extra one because I have to drop off/pick up alot with them and sports and it’s nice to be able to call and say “i’m running late” right before they call me to let me know that practice let out early… :D

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7 Danielle April 26, 2008 at 1:59 am

Honestly I think it is a good idea. I am in my mid 20′s and when I was a “tween” every family had a home phone now many families only have cells, pay phones were everywhere, now I can’t tell you the last time I have seen one. Many cell phone companies will allow you to set a limit to the # of mins. that # can recieve or allert you when it exceeds that set #. It is a very good leason in responsibilty. The only downside is that as they become teens they can tell you they are anywhere they want you to believe they are, but that is where us savy spy moms come in…we are smarter than them right???

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8 Erna April 26, 2008 at 8:25 am

My daughter has a health condition which can necessitate trips to the ER . . . I’m all for her having her own phone when she gets older for emergency purposes. I don’t care for it for socialization. As an adult, I don’t like it when a visit with friends is interrupted so they can talk to someone else about plans or whatever. I want my kids to have a balance when it comes to such things. :0)

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9 Shannon H April 26, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Now, my son is only two so admittedly I’m not in touch with the tween scene, but I didn’t have a cell phone until he was born (so I was about 30 years old) and I got it for safety reasons. So I’m not about the fun features, the socializing (doesn’t that get expensive?); my children will get their own phones when their schedules get busy and we need to be in touch, as well as for safety–is that 4th grade or 9th grade, I don’t know yet. FOr your 4th grader, I think having a phone that you can give her (and I definitely like the ones with parental controls) when she has an extra activity or on certain occasions is better than giving her “her own phone” at that age.

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10 Frances April 26, 2008 at 2:41 pm

I don’t think it is necessarily a great thing – but I see the safety reasons as being my number one reason why she would be allowed to have one. It would be something that she could use to contact us, her grandparents, or some family member in case of an emergency. There is no way I’d give free reign to her to use a cell phone.

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11 AmyG April 26, 2008 at 4:12 pm

This is a touchy subject with me, lol. I don’t think a child in Elementary school needs a cell phone. However, I’m a worry wort. With all the craziness going on in today’s school, I would want my daughter to be able to contact me if anything, God forbid, were to happen. But for socialization, and play? That will never be my reason for my girls to have a phone. Right now, my oldest is in kingergarten. We’ve talked about getting her a phone, but haven’t totaly made up our minds yet.

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12 Tricia April 26, 2008 at 5:00 pm

I think every situation is different. I have a 15 year old that we put on our plan. Well long story short she did not pay attention to her minutes and text more then once. We ended up dropping her off the plan. She now has her own pay as you go phone so she has to work for it and it teaches her responsiblity. I think all teenagers should have a phone as long as they know how to handle their minutes.

I also have a 6 year old daughter that I would by no means give a cell phone to but I am sure soon she will be getting one because I too am a worrier.

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13 Jen April 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Cell phones are become less of a luxury and more of a necessity these days. When I was in junior high and high school and I was beginning to go to youth activities or ball games, we relied on either knowing exactly when we would return or on a pay phone to call and ask for mom to come pick us up. But pay phones are becoming scarce. And I am sure my mom would have felt better knowing exactly where we were and how to reach us, especially on those rare occasions where a bus broke down, or what have you. I don’t think a young child who still basically spends most of their time in their parents’ company needs a cell phone, especially if they are not responsible enough to handle it, or if they are talking on it and not interacting with the family. But once they are more “on their own”, I definitely think having a safe way to stay in contact is an advantage!

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14 JJ April 27, 2008 at 1:52 am

I’m with Jen-times have changed so much since we were kids. (We even had a while when we didn’t have a home phone at all-much less cell phones!) I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 25. Now I can’t leave the house without it. My son is about to turn 14 and I was considering getting him his own phone because he’s in a lot of activities and sometimes likes to walk to friends or the library, etc. But after seeing that it was going to cost me an additional $30/month and my plan would change to a lower amount of minutes and then the extension on the contract plus the phone costs-it just didn’t seem like a good deal at all. But my 11 year old is toting the “Everyone has one but me!” complaint and she isn’t too far from the truth-MOST of her friends have them! Yikes. I still like the idea of them being allowed to get them when they can afford to pay for them on their own-but I am such a worrier, I think I’m going to feel more comfortable being able to get ahold of them when I need them. So basically-I’m up on the fence abut this one. *sigh*

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15 Tami April 27, 2008 at 2:48 pm

My daughter, in third grade, wants a cell phone. She’s too young. Too much privacy with a cell phone.

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16 Ginny April 27, 2008 at 5:51 pm

My 10 year old wants a phone very badly. If we had the money in the budget she’d have one right now. We have a ton of kids in our neighborhood, so she is always outside playing. Plus she is at dance 5 days a week, if she had a phone I’d feel more comfortable dropping her off.

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18 Jen May 3, 2008 at 12:19 am

I have thought that kids having cell phones is absolutely ridiculous!!! However, I can see where it would be very handy, and save a lot of piece of minds. My little one is only 5 mths so hopefully I have a few years before she starts asking for one!!

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