I Gave My 8 Year Old a Cell Phone

Disclosure: I was given a Samsung Victory from Zact to test out the service. I was also given a gift card to get the service started on the phone. I was not compensated in any other way for my review. All opinions and decisions to give my daughter the phone are my own. I will be continuing the service when I have to pay for it myself.

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Now, I didn’t start out with the intention of giving her a cell phone.  Seriously.  Not in a million years.  I was on the “probably when she is 12” train for giving my daughter her first cell phone.  All I knew was that it wasn’t happening any time soon.  I saw these, and thought that was definitely a possibility for my daughter, but I wouldn’t get her an ACTUAL phone for quite some time.  Then I attended an event last week in New York City.  The event was hosted by Techlicious, Best Buy Mobile and Zact.  I had never heard of Zact before.  I’ll tell you all about them in a minute, but even when I was there I thought to myself… I probably won’t actually give this phone to my daughter.  She’s 8.  She doesn’t need a phone.  Fast forward to Saturday night.  I was heading out for a girl’s night, leaving my nephew to babysit my kids.  I had pretty much already put them to bed, my son was fast asleep within minutes, and my daughter was still in her bed wide awake.  I had to come clean about my outing.  I told her I was going out with some friends but that her cousin was downstairs to babysit.  Her cousin didn’t have a phone (he HAS one, it’s just currently taken away) and so I busted out the phone I got from Zact on Thursday.  I handed it over, and showed her how to text me if she needed to get a hold of me.  And then that was it.  I had given my daughter a cell phone.  Yes I could have just taken it back when I got home from my girls night, but I’ve decided to let her keep it, and here is why….

Babysitters – First, not all babysitters in the area have cell phones.  We do not have a home phone (like so many other people I know).  When the kids are being babysat by someone without a phone, I either have to leave them mine or my husband’s.  When I’m going out with the girls, and I have to leave them mine, then I have to give them a friend’s phone number and ask my friend all night if anyone had called.  Now that my daughter has a phone, that is no longer an issue.

Sports & Activities – At 8 years old my daughter is starting to be involved in several activities (Swim team, piano, soccer, Girl Scouts, etc.)  When I drop her off at these activities it’s nice to know that she can contact me if something happens.  If she gets hurt at practice and needs me to come back and pick her up early, she has options.

Zact Mobile – The main reason I’ve allowed this to take place is because I actually think the way Zact mobile has created their service is fantastic.  The first thing you are going to do is select a phone and a service plan.  Phones range from about $200 – $450, and you can purchase them either online or at Best Buy.  The plans are AMAZINGLY cheap, and here’s the super fun part.  If you overestimate what you are going to use during the month, you will be refunded the amount you didn’t use!  The current plan amount that I’m paying for is $6.59 a month.  I also asked them why (if there was going to be a refund for unused items, AND you can adjust your plan at any time) there was plans to begin with.  She responded that the reason for the plans was so that you can set a limit.  So if you don’t want your child to text more than 100 messages a month, you set the plan and as soon as they hit that limit, they will not be able to text for the rest of the month.  That made perfect sense to me.  If you want to give them more messages once they’ve hit their limit though, you have that power.  My favorite part though, is that I can turn off access to specific apps.

So, it’s true, I gave my 8 year old a cell phone.  Do I think I would have spent $200 to give it to her?  Definitely not.  There are circumstances where I would be ok with spending that much to allow it.  Mainly in split families where the child isn’t in your care at all times, or if you work full time away from the home and there is a nanny or they go to a babysitter for part of the day.  In these situations, I could definitely see myself purchasing one of these phones.  I think the Zact phones are the PERFECT starter phone for a kid though, and I’m super comfortable with her having it.  Just need to get an Otterbox case for it and we’ll be all set.  The plans are super duper duper cheap, and the parental controls are out of this world awesome.  Plus Zact is powered by Sprint’s network, which makes it even more of a win for me, as I love Sprint.

Check out this infographic about kids and cell phones…

Zact Mobile Family Survey Infographic_7.13.13

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.



About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com

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