EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - How young is too young for kids to have cell phones? It's a question parents have been debating for more than a decade. But it’s getting even more attention with Sprint targeting kids as young as five years old with a new kid friendly phone.
According to a report from NBC affiliate WEAU Sprint is giving families a new option that could put more phones in kids' hands. The company calls the “We Go,” an affordable first phone for kids, targeting ages five to 12.
Mary Geissler is the family living educator for the University of Wisconsin Extension campus in Chippewa County. She said there may be some situations where younger children could benefit from having a phone.
“Families that I work with, many of them are not enjoying having two people in the home to look after them. So these children are often left with strangers or they're visiting a parent on a weekend and it may be up to a lot of different people to pick them up or drop them off.” “So a cell phone on those circumstances and helping the child learn to use it responsibly would be very appropriate.”
The We Go has security measures allowing parents to program which contacts their kids can make calls to and receive calls from. It has GPS tracking, can only send preset text messages, like 'I'm at school' and has a string to pull if kids feel they're in danger, sending parents an immediate text message.
“I think it's a good idea with the limitations, but I'd rather see it targeted a little older,” Eau Claire parent and grandparent Rachel Stone said.
“The cell phone is simply a tool. We're still parents, we must be parents, we're responsible, set those boundaries, and I think you're going to have a good experience with it with your child,” Geissler said.
We Gos sell for about $120, and parents can even be notified if kids are traveling faster than the speed limit. As of this week they were available at Sprint stores and other eletronics retailers. Service on the phone costs $9.99 per month and includes 1,000 minutes of voice calls and 1,000 text messages.