January 06, 2010,
T.F. asks from Orlando, FL on June 02, 2009
Cell Phone Ideas for a Middle Schooler
I am tossing around the idea of getting a cell phone for my son because he will be going to middle school next year and riding the school bus. I know the school has a "see it, hear it, take it" policy so he will not be allowed to use it or have it on during school hours, but I'd feel much better knowing he has one in case he misses the bus or has some other reason to reach me. My own personal cell has a minimal plan with NO texting or any other data usage (like internet) because I think all of that is a waste of money that can be better spent elsewhere. I just want a simple phone with a simple plan for him. I am locked into a contract with Sprint so I know I can get him a phone and share minutes with him, but the minumum sharing plan the last time I looked was almost twice the minutes I have now and we won't need anywhere near that many so I don't want to pay that much. Do any of you have any suggestions? I would prefer suggestions from people who actually have the phone/plan they are describing. I have "heard about" many different plans but I would like to hear from people who actually HAVE them so you can tell me the actual pros and cons you have seen first hand. Thanks!!!
(He doesn't get an allowance nor do I plan to start one, so I will be paying for the phone and usage until he is old enough to get a pt job.)
So What Happened?™
Well- I mentioned the idea of a cell to my husband and he said, "OK-- if you really think he needs one... but why exactly do you think he needs one??" So I actually found myself unable to answer that question. If he misses the bus, he can just come home and call me if I'm not there (a house key is much cheaper than a cell!!) and I really just could not think of any other reason he would need one. I told him if he could convince us then we'll put the idea back on the table, but for now I think we'll take the advice to just wait. I can't stand seeing teenagers ignoring eachother and their families out in public as they stare at their phones, busily texting and chatting on the phone-- so I certainly don't want that for my own kids!
B.M. answers from Orlando on June 03, 2009
I added a line to my family cell phone plan with AT&T (I currently have one of the lowest family plans w/no texting, and it is 700 minutes, which I NEVER use). My thought for the extra phone was for my daughters (10 and 8) to use when they go to friends houses, sleepovers, etc. That has worked so far.
A few years ago, I had a Tracphone. It was just for emergencies, so I needed very little time. Take a look at the website. If it still works the same, you had to make sure that you kept the service active, regardless of whether you had used the minutes you paid for. In other words, you are paying for both minutes and activity. With that said, there was a yearly activation with quite a few minutes for $120 a year (and they always had a special to double the minutes for the same cost). (Watch some of the lower cost per minute deals, because they come with one or two months of activity, so you need to add minutes to gain more activity, which would be more expensive if you are not planning on using the time, but need the activity).
It worked out to, (obviously) $10 a month. Even with that, I never used my minutes. The trick is to make sure that the phone stays "active" so that it can be used when needed. If it goes "inactive" you loose the number and can not place a call until you pay to add more time to the phone (you still have the minutes and there are ways to track it on both the internet and the phone).
You can pick the phones up at Walmart, and other places. Sometimes, (if you are not picky about the phone) you can even get the phones for free after a rebate from CVS or online.
Due to job changes, I went with a family ATT plan, and the added line is $10 a month (the same as Tracphone). We share the same minutes now.
If you don't want to be tied in to a contract, the Tracphone worked well for me. I do know that others have pay as you go, and there are websites that compare the deals.
I know we didn't have the phones when we were kids, but it gives me peace of mind that the girls have the phone with them (only when I decide, as they are still in elementary school). If it makes you feel better, and he can follow school rules with it (and you can afford it), do it.
S.S. answers from San Francisco on January 06, 2010
I am a single dad with a 6th grader this year and I am considering getting him a cell phone. My biggest concern is that it will be disruptive to class, schoolwork, and/or family time.
I am just now reading this string and wanted to add a website that I found that might be helpful for you or any future readers.
# Decide when the phone can and can't be used.
# Accept the calls and texts you want and block the ones you don't.
# Create separate allowances to decide who pays for what, you or your kid.
Rate plans are reasonable.
and theres a GPS locator service for $10/mo if you want it.
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J.J. answers from Orlando on June 03, 2009
Target has a wonderful prepaid phone called the firefly. It is awesome for kids because you program the numbers and they can only make and receive calls from those numbers. You buy the minuts, and they don't expire.
C.M. answers from Orlando on June 03, 2009
Don't do it. Avoid the phone as long as you can. All the other kids and teachers have ones that I feel sure he could use in case of emergency. I wish my teens did not have theirs. The amount of texting and the dependency on it is just too much. I miss the simpler times.
K.C. answers from Orlando on June 03, 2009
I'm sorry I don't really have any advice. But as a teacher I just want to let you know that I fully support your idea of him having his own phone as long as he is responsible enough to have it off in his backpack (or pocket)during the day. These are some crazy days we live in and you never know when having that phone might really come in handy. Hopefully he never has to use it. I know that when my mom was getting each of us kids our cell phones she found that is was much cheeper to just add us to her plan. I know you said you won't need the extra minutes but the "kids phones" firefly and disney for example, where you can program in the numbers that can call in and out, can be very expensive.
I know that wasn't very helpful but I just wanted to give you a little support. I know cell phones and kids can be a hot button issue.