Friday, September 14, 2007

If you give a kid a cell phone...

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What was I thinking when I signed my kid up to try a Kajeet cell phone? Forget that my nine year-old boy has no need for a cell phone, he’s a complete screen addict. Computer, video, TV, Ipod, there’s no technology too small to suck him in. So, giving him a cell phone, is like giving him his first bit of crack with a Tequila chaser. I am a bad, bad, mother.

After a consult with DH, we decided the cell phone would not stay with us beyond the trial period. When his Kajeet wallet is empty, we are going to auction it on E-Bay or raffle it off at school to support Smartypants’ fundraising effort (only $3,500 to go!)

When I told Smartypants that he was going to get a cell phone for a few weeks he replied in his wizened way, “I hope it’s not like a Firefly, they seem boring, lame. You can only call a few people and I don’t think they have games. They are not as advanced as regular cell phones.”

Lucky for him, the Kajeet is way cooler than the Firefly. The sleek blue Sanyo Katana phone leaves me with a case of cell phone envy.

Within minutes of opening the box, we’d started up the service with the help of a very friendly woman named Leigh Anne at the call center. Smartypants and I each chose passwords and user names and we were set. It was time to read the manual. Wait, that’s only for grown-ups.

Smartypants had explored every feature of the phone within the first five minutes, while I still haven’t figured out how to send text messages on the cell phone I’ve had for over a year.

Smartypants loves the grown-up look and features (and games!) of the phone. I love the pay-as-you-go service. No long-term contracts, just a simple 10 cents a minute per US call and 5 cents per text, regardless of the time or day of the week the call is made. Smartypants can send pictures for 25 cents each and purchase games ($3.00 - $6.00 per download, but free unlimited play after that).

I also love the parental controls. In fact, Smartypants decided to spend $6 to download the Shrek 3 game, but kept getting blocked from doing so. I told him to call the Kajeet toll-free number to try to resolve the problem, and he did. Cell phone teaches child responsibility-hooray! Of course, the Kajeet folks needed to speak with me to unblock the service, but I was proud that he made the call and got through some of the basic troubleshooting on his own. I had to give the Kajeet rep my username and password in order to unblock the service, so it’s not like any adult can make changes to his account.

Parental controls can also block service at set times, like during school or designated homework hours.

This has been an interesting experience for us. Even with the 35-cent maintenance fee, Smartypants will have the phone for 6 or more weeks before his Kajeet Wallet is empty; the poor kid has no one to call. Last night he called his grandpa…while they were sitting next to each other on the couch. So clearly he doesn’t need a cell phone just yet, but if your child 10-15 year- old does, Kajeet is an excellent way to go.

And if you’d like our cool blue phone, leave a comment below and I’ll notify you if we offer up this gently-used phone on E-Bay.

Note: this Kajeet blog review tour opportunity was provided by Mom Central. We received the phone and $20 for the Kajeet waller to test it out, but were not paid for the review.

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