As they get older, kids need and crave more freedom, but that doesn’t mean parents don’t want to keep tabs on their whereabouts. That’s where screen-free basic phones for kids are a must. Kids’ cell phones serve one purpose: To keep parents and kids connected. Some might have more bells and whistles than others, but all of them allow mom and dad to contact the kids when needed, and vice versa. In essence, it’s an emergency child cell phone, which is pretty much all you need.
If you’re not ready to get your children pricey iPhones that will send them down the social media rabbit hole, these screen-free kids’ phones are a solid stopgap solution. The phones on our list allow parents to communicate with their kids, set an approved list of contacts, and in many cases, see exactly where their kids are at any given time. Make sure that whatever option you choose works with the network your have, otherwise you’re out of luck.
This screen-free, water-resistant, one-touch phone alternative makes it easy to talk to your kids from the free app on your smartphone. It's a simple, user-friendly communication device, which is all kids need, with a one-day battery life. With this phone, there are no screen-time issues and no internet browsing. You can attach this to their backpack, or jacket. You do need to sign up for Relay service, which is $10 per month.
An absolutely genius phone that lets you text with your kid. You can also program numbers they can call, and they can send you sweet and funny voice messages. If your child has a tendency to wander off, you can check their location using the GizmoHub app and set GPS boundaries. If your kid crosses one, you'll get an automated alert. The user interface is really friendly and easy to use, and it keeps track of your kid's steps to boot. The battery lasts up to four days. However, this watch only works on the Verizon network.
This kids' smart watch slash phone uses the 4G network, and lets kids send text messages, voice messages, photos and emojis. Plus, it works with group chat. It also has video, calling, and GPS tracking capabilities. The big screen is great for little hands, and the battery lasts a day, so you do need to charge it every night. Note that it's only compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T networks.
See those three bright red buttons? Those are the VIP numbers your kid calls the most. Parents can also add 15 pre-programmed numbers so kids can chat with grandma or grandpa. We particularly love the bright-red SOS button to use in case of emergency. And kids can't turn off the phone; only parents can, by using the app. You choose a plan based on your needs, so the costs per month vary.
A kid-friendly watch, this one from Timex sends your child's location to the secure app and notifies you when they leave a designated area. Your kid gets two-way calling within a private contact group. Plus, the watch lets kid send recorded voice messages, instant messages, and preset messages. There's also an SOS emergency alert button. It works on the Metro and T-Mobile networks.
Gabb's phone works with the nationwide network, which runs you $20 per month for unlimited talk and text. The phone itself has a front and rear camera for taking selfies, photos, and videos, a headphone port, and 12 pre-installed apps including calculator, calendar, and messaging. But the phone has no browser, no app store, no games, and no social media. It runs on the 4G LTE network. The battery lasts about 48 hours.
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