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Help a Mom: Best cell phone for middle schooler

Posted June 11, 2013

A mom is interested in getting her rising middle schooler a cell phone, but she's not sure what to get.

Here's what she wrote: We want to get our son a cell phone for his fifth grade graduation present, but are not ready for him to have a fancy smartphone yet. Maybe one that just calls or texts? Maybe a prepaid phone?

Anyone have experience with this? Looking for advice on any helpful features (tracking device, safety, other?) that we should look for as well as recommendations on a good (affordable) phone for middle school kids?

Do you have advice for this mom? Please share your tips in the comments box below. (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

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  • asn0307 Jun 13, 2013

    Apologies if this comes off as crass, but I do not think a kid in middle school needs a cell phone. The only reason I got one in ninth grade is because I was gone on band trips all the time. In my opinion, I don't think a kid needs a phone until they are driving.

  • snowl Jun 13, 2013

    Just wait until he/she is in high school and has a paying job. Sorry, this is my best advise with this question.

  • witmasta Jun 13, 2013

    Your kid doesn't need a phone.

  • shall6 Jun 12, 2013

    From my inbox: Get the most basic phone you can get and make sure it has insurance on it. My Daughter is 16 and she has took to the bathroom, pool and I had to get it replaced 2 different time. If you want to spend a lot of money get one that is water proof there are lot of basic phone just be careful what you get. Read all the fine print


  • bgrmom Jun 12, 2013

    I would most likely choose the TracFone. The phones out now are decent, but remember that they can connect to the internet also (no restrictions). Our friends bought tracfones for their teenagers and it worked well for them. My husband and I also use these because we don't have a need for all of the apps and such. Pros (1) Phone is inexpensive. (2) Easy to reload minutes (3) can send texts (each average text = about 1/3 of a minute of cell time); Cons (1) internet connection cannot be restricted, (2) no GPS if needed in an emergency (our phones do not have the GPS functionality but other prepaids may have that). We have found if you choose to do tracfone, check around on the web on sites like HSN or QVC. Sometimes they have package deals with close to 2000 minutes for around $99. You basically end up paying for the minutes and get the phone, charger, case, etc for free. Plus, they are flexible on returns.

  • Always160 Jun 12, 2013

    You cannot put parental controls on most prepaid phones such as Boost. You may want them on your bill so you can monitor everything and put the parental controls on the phone.

  • Mom2two Jun 12, 2013

    I think most kids in middle school are too young for a cell phone. It does nothing but get kids in trouble. This is true, in my experience, more so for girls than for boys, but we did not allow our daughters to have cell phones until they entered the 9th grade. We saw too many other girls using them to be mean, and our logic is, that at this age, they are never where there is not another adult. We give kids grown-up things to early and we are not teaching them to delay gratification.

  • twsw Jun 12, 2013

    chicnrdu, I like your suggestion. I have three girls. The youngest is about to go to middle school. We had some major issues with our oldest going over limits with her initial phone once she was able to text and ended up having to go to an unlimited plan by the time our next daughter was added on. Whatever you choose, I would not choose anything with access to the internet yet and do pay extra for parental controls/limits on texting and minutes. I would also suggest that he understand that you should have access to reading/checking his phone at all times and that there are consequences for not relinquishing it upon request. I really like the idea of making him prove he can be responsible by keeping up with the inexpensive option first. My oldest made the mistake of taking an IPOD to school and it was stolen. While my girls were added to our plan when they got their phones, they did not get smartphones. My oldest bought her iphone after she began working steady this year and she

  • chicnrdu Jun 12, 2013

    We had a deal with our boys.. the first phone they received was a pre pay basic phone with texting and calling. They had to keep it, and use it for a year... at that time, they had earned the ability to upgrade the phone and get added to our plan... so they knew the end result was a phone like other kids.. but they had to show they were responsible enough to get it first!

  • AConservativePerson Jun 12, 2013

    Cricket has a phone that only you can add the numbers that he can call. It was fairly inexpensive for the phone. We looked at it for our teenager. AND there is no contract.