Friday, July 24, 2009

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Review: Kajeet Mobile Phone Service for Kids

Ten years ago, I would have told you that you were crazy if you suggested that a 6yr old boy should have a mobile phone. Now that I am the parent of a boy that is almost that age, I actually do not find the idea of mobile phones for kids to be a crazy one at all. Of course, there would have to be many parental controls in place, but I truly find it comforting that my son could call me from anywhere if he needed me, whether he became lost at the mall or something worse. It is a scary world out there and sometimes I wish I could keep my children locked up in the house where they are safest. We all know that is unrealistic though.

The main reason I wanted to try the pay-as-you-go Kajeet mobile service for kids is the option of a GPS phone tracker. As long as my son's phone is on and it is on his person, then I can check his location at anytime. This gives me some peace of mind because my husband and I cannot be with him 24/7.



What I thought about the Sanyo Katana mobile phone:

1) My son was very impressed about the coolness factor of the Katana, especially since the phone (as it is packaged for Kajeet) came with stickers to decorate the phone anyway that he liked.

2) The phone is not quite as small as other flip phones you may see today, but I prefer it that way. At approximately 2"x4", it still fits in a pocket, but it would be more difficult to lose. (That is a concern of mine, so I put a sticker on it with Jake's name and a tracking number provided by a label company. If someone finds the lost phone, they can call the (800) number and give the operator the tracking number and then the operator will contact us.)


3) Although this phone would be great for tweens and teens, it actually has a lot of bells and whistles a child my son's age would not use, such as digital zoom, picture messaging, blue tooth capabilities, and speakerphone.

4) The feature I like most about the Sanyo Katana where a child is concerned is the speed dialing. Although my son understands how to use the the built-in phone book to call any of the 7 numbers I've programmed into his phone, I worry that in an emergency he may forget. With speed dialing, all he has to do is remember to hold down a particular number long enough for the phone to start dialing. Even then, I worry that he might forget which number is programmed to call home. I might have to put a dot of color on it with a permanent marker.



What I thought about the Kajeet Cell Phone Service:

1) I love that no matter what you program into the phone, it cannot do anything that is restricted by the parental controls set on the Kajeet website. For example, the phone's contact list could hold 20 phone numbers, but I can set the phone to only be able to make outbound calls to 5 specific numbers and only receive inbound calls from 2.

2) Also included under parental controls is a Time Manager. Although I probably won't need to use this for my son at this age, I think it is a wonderful feature to be able to restrict during what times of day and on which day of the week a child can use their phone.

3) The Kajeet website is set up so there is a main parent account and then one or more kids accounts under that one. Again, if my children were older, I would be able to control how many minutes each of the three children use by only transferring so much into their individual pay-as-you-go wallets.

4) I found the billing to be a little complicated. If you do not choose a Kajeet service plan, then you are charged $.32/day for just having the phone activated. Then you would be charged per call or per text message. If you are looking for a phone just to have for emergencies, the plan for $4.99/month comes with 10 minutes of talk time and sounds like the most logical choice if you are shopping for a younger child. I cannot think of a reason why anyone would opt to not choose a plan unless they were only keeping the phone for less than a month.

5) The GPS phone locator is an additional $9.99/month no matter which plan you opt for. I was very impressed by the GPS capabilities. As long as the phone is on, I can check where it is located at anytime. It actually shows me on a street map the approximate location of the phone and gives me the approximate street address. I can also program it to check the phone's location at certain times of day on specific days of the week. It will do it on its own and email me the results. So if you have a child that is old enough to walk home from school unaccompanied, then it is a good tool to keep track of him or her.


6) One thing that was inconvenient is that you cannot change the child's account once you've set it up. For example, if you wanted to buy a new phone for your older child and pass the previous phone onto a younger child, you cannot just change the name related to that phone. You have to close the account and open a new one with a new phone number.



7) I did have to contact Kajeet customer service for something and I was pleased with my service. I spoke to two different representatives. Although both were courteous, a man named Bob C. went above and beyond to help me. He turned a frustrating situation into a positive one very quickly. Thank you Bob!!

I think that the GPS phone tracker is definitely worth the extra $9.99/month. That is a small price to pay for a little peace of mind. Although I think the Kajeet service and level of parental controls are set up for children of all ages, I do not think their current selection of phones reflects that. In order to widen their range of customers, I do recommend that they look into a phone that is geared towards younger users.


Thank you to Kajeet for providing us with a review product free of charge.