[OP]
Sr. Member
Aug 3, 2017
724 posts
542 upvotes

Child Cell Phones

As parents of three youngish kids, we are entering the phase where we are starting into high school (Grade 7) this week and faced with the decision about getting our son a cell phone. Many of his friends have them and in our neighborhood it seems the transition to the High School has been the timing for most. We have resisted to date.

I’m not sold on the idea, however it can be a pain in the butt to not have him reachable via text at times (for the mess of school pickups now, while he is gone on a bike ride near dinner time, etc).

So three questions:

1. At what age have you gotten phones for kids?

2. Is it reasonable to expect that the kid takes a used iPhone 6 that’s left from one of the parents’ recent upgrades?

3. What kind of plans have folks gotten? Add on to a parent plan? Independent plan? Use for wifi only? Etc.

If there is a thread mods please merge. I looked back a few pages of threads and didn’t see one.
33 replies
Deal Addict
Aug 10, 2013
2349 posts
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Toronto
I gave my 12 year old my old cell phone. Very useful I bought a lucky mobile SIM card from dollarama. It’s 28 bucks a month for unlimited talk and a little data which he rarely uses
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Jan 14, 2007
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GTA
If you want the convenience of your son being reachable then I would advise against relying solely on Wi-Fi. If he's out riding his bike you would not reliably be able to reach him and vice versa.

I think an iPhone 6S is a perfect phone for that age.
Deal Guru
Dec 5, 2006
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Markham
For high schoolers, is it unlimited text plan a must?
Sr. Member
Dec 12, 2005
666 posts
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Richmond
I have soon to be 14 yo son, no phone to date. If he needs to call, he would go to the office and use the phone there. If I have a spare phone, I would have the kid use it. He should be thankful he has one, no need to go fancy and get a basic plan as a lot of places have free wifi now.
Deal Addict
Jun 12, 2008
1246 posts
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Ripley
1. Gr9, Gr9, Gr9, Gr7

2. You could pass down a 6 but there will be apps that won't work and the battery life might be degraded. There will always be that one kid that has the latest and greatest phone as soon as it comes out. That was never my kid. I am using a 6s but the battery life has really declined the last year and there are many apps I can't use because it doesn't have NFC. This might be an issue for your kid but it might not.

3. They all have BYOD plans. They pay for the phone and I pay for the plan. All of them have data. The oldest 3 don't live at home full time so they use way more data then the youngest.
Deal Addict
Dec 20, 2009
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I have my teenage boys on Public Mobile with iPhone 5s. With referrals it’s under $30 a month for both. They were on Speakout before but it is unreliable. I would put them on the free Shaw plan but 5s is too old. No matter what phone they have the screen will be cracked within a week.
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Aug 16, 2010
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Aurora
This is for our son, now in grade 10.
dolfan1980 wrote: So three questions:

1. At what age have you gotten phones for kids?
Grade 8
2. Is it reasonable to expect that the kid takes a used iPhone 6 that’s left from one of the parents’ recent upgrades?
Yes, I think an iPhone 6 is perfect and appropriate. Our son has my old Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Though we've seen plenty of kids sport $1k iPhone XR's which I think is too much.
3. What kind of plans have folks gotten? Add on to a parent plan? Independent plan? Use for wifi only? Etc.
We got an add on line under our existing plan. We kept our eyes open for a sale and got the extra line for $10/mo. Talk/text/ and I think 500 Mb of data (could be 1Gb - I don't quite remember). He rarely uses voice but uses text and data. He's free to connect to home, friends' and school wifi's. We opted to have a little data on his plan so we can do Google location sharing; everyone in our family shares location with each other - note that while acquiring GPS coordinates is data-free, sending your location to others takes data.
Sr. Member
Jun 11, 2006
511 posts
511 upvotes
My oldest is also in Grade 7, but he hasn't asked for one though his best friend just got one. I think many of his peers have one as well. I'm holding out as long as I can!

If ever I get him one, it would probably be talk/text only.

Anyway, there are times we can't reach him (walking home from school, bike rides etc), but those are limited. He's still home most of the time. I'd be more inclined to get him one if he spent significant time on his own out and about.
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Jul 25, 2008
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Richmond Hill
Back in the day, my first cell phone was in Gr 8/9... Nokia 5190!!!
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Jun 24, 2015
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I will not give my child a cellphone until they are 16, then they need to learn how to go and buy a Pay As You Go voucher and re-load it on their own., owning a cellphone comes with responsibilities, i do not want to turn my children into spoiled rotten brats they need respolsibilities and need to learn about finances.
Hi
Deal Addict
Jun 12, 2008
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Ripley
GoodFellaz wrote: I will not give my child a cellphone until they are 16, then they need to learn how to go and buy a Pay As You Go voucher and re-load it on their own., owning a cellphone comes with responsibilities, i do not want to turn my children into spoiled rotten brats they need respolsibilities and need to learn about finances.
Are your kids younger then Grade 7? All of the highschool coaches and club leaders communicate through text or snapchat. Their friends communicate this way too so you might want to reconsider. Cell phones are not used the same way they were 5 years ago. There are lots of ways to teach your kids about responsibilities and finances but you don't have to make them a social outcasts at the same time. The best thing we did to teach our kids about money was to insist they get jobs as soon as they were old enough to work.
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Jun 24, 2015
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Hell yeah my kids are younger than Grade 7, they are in daycare and kinder garden. if someone needs to communicate with my kids they will pick up the phone and call ME and i will pass the phone to my children, hell no my children will NOT Communicate with SMS or Chat Snap to some strangers on a football team
Hi
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Sep 1, 2005
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Markham
Philbert wrote: I have my teenage boys on Public Mobile with iPhone 5s. With referrals it’s under $30 a month for both. They were on Speakout before but it is unreliable. I would put them on the free Shaw plan but 5s is too old. No matter what phone they have the screen will be cracked within a week.
Depending on where you are, Speakout is one of the most reliable providers as it's Rogers. Added to that it's likely the cheapest prepaid plans for emergency usage as you can get away with as little as $25/yr if usage is limited to periodic texts (free incoming texts, 15 cents/outgoing text). You have to determine usage to determine best/cheapest plans. Personally I would stay away from unlimited type plans because it won't be long before they will be crossing the street and not paying attention to cars as they're doing one of their hundred texts/day...I see this all the time where kids cross without looking.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
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Dec 20, 2009
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gr8dlr wrote: Depending on where you are, Speakout is one of the most reliable providers as it's Rogers. Added to that it's likely the cheapest prepaid plans for emergency usage as you can get away with as little as $25/yr if usage is limited to periodic texts (free incoming texts, 15 cents/outgoing text). You have to determine usage to determine best/cheapest plans. Personally I would stay away from unlimited type plans because it won't be long before they will be crossing the street and not paying attention to cars as they're doing one of their hundred texts/day...I see this all the time where kids cross without looking.
I had 5 iPhones of various models on Speakout and it worked fine for years, when suddenly all 5 phones starting having problems sending messages when they weren't on wifi with iMessage enabled. Frequently they wouldn't send sms, and when my son got stranded one day and couldn't text me, I switched all 5 to PM. It wasn't just my account, as I also set up my in-laws with Speakout on their own account, and they had same issue. Speakout said it was aware of the issue, but it was an Apple problem, and Apple never heard of Speakout. I wonder if the 4, 5 and 5s stopped being supported? It is by far the best deal for infrequent use, though. I would switch my kids to Shaw, but again their phones are too old for the Shaw system--they need at least a 7.
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Sep 1, 2005
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Philbert wrote: I had 5 iPhones of various models on Speakout and it worked fine for years, when suddenly all 5 phones starting having problems sending messages when they weren't on wifi with iMessage enabled. Frequently they wouldn't send sms, and when my son got stranded one day and couldn't text me, I switched all 5 to PM. It wasn't just my account, as I also set up my in-laws with Speakout on their own account, and they had same issue. Speakout said it was aware of the issue, but it was an Apple problem, and Apple never heard of Speakout. I wonder if the 4, 5 and 5s stopped being supported? It is by far the best deal for infrequent use, though. I would switch my kids to Shaw, but again their phones are too old for the Shaw system--they need at least a 7.
I don't use IMessage so I'm not sure. I did use Whatsapp and the 100mb data from Speakout and it worked fine.

There's a thread here re. Speakout and IMessage/Facetime.
https://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak/p ... orkaround/
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
Deal Addict
Dec 20, 2009
1264 posts
319 upvotes
gr8dlr wrote: I don't use IMessage so I'm not sure. I did use Whatsapp and the 100mb data from Speakout and it worked fine.

There's a thread here re. Speakout and IMessage/Facetime.
https://www.speakoutwireless.ca/speak/p ... orkaround/
That thread is for jaibroken phones. I believe the problem lies in Apple phones and plans with no data, which I didn't have. I purchased data for one phone for a month and it worked fine again. But Speakout plans with data are not the best deal, especially when I bought 4 PM plans using referrals.
Deal Addict
Oct 26, 2003
1389 posts
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Ottawa
GoodFellaz wrote: I will not give my child a cellphone until they are 16, then they need to learn how to go and buy a Pay As You Go voucher and re-load it on their own., owning a cellphone comes with responsibilities, i do not want to turn my children into spoiled rotten brats they need respolsibilities and need to learn about finances.
Sound like you had a rough childhood...

Let us know in a couple of years how it worked out please.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Aug 3, 2017
724 posts
542 upvotes
We gave them used phones we had within the family and went with the $25 for 500MB and talk/text. Almost a week in and they are happy so far. Of course their responses to texts are about as indistinguishable as their answers to “what did you learn today”. Work in progress. Thanks folks for the advice and ideas.

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