Verizon is introducing Just Kids, a new wrinkle in its Mix and Match Unlimited Plans, making it simpler to get a line for a child’s first phone. It becomes available on Thursday.
The wireless company’s Smart Family phone plan, available for almost a year, already offers safety measures to make sure that a first phone doesn’t become a nightmare waiting to happen for Mom and Dad. The plan allows parents to set content filters and block inappropriate websites. The premium version includes location tracking that alerts parents when their child leaves a pre-determined area that the parents create.
All those features come with the Just Kids plan, but it’s now available as an add-on to existing customers with Verizon’s three unlimited plans, pretty much for $10 a month, the same as the Smart Family phone plan, but with 5GB of 4G LTE data and unlimited talk and text to 20 parent-defined contacts.
The data plan, an improvement over the Smart Family plan, comes with a Safety Mode that prevents the ability to go over the limits. But 5GB of data may not be much if your kids play a lot of games.
Other carriers have children’s plans too, but it’s never seemed to be a big part of their advertising focus. Verizon, however, will be introducing Just Kids with a commercial campaign, a spokesman said, though he didn’t have many details. But there is an introductory YouTube video.
A special kids’ plan makes sense because selling parents on the idea of a smartphone for their kids makes everybody realize that stranger danger can live on a cell phone. An AT&T blog that discusses how parents can come to an informed decision says that when your child says, “I need a cell phone” it’s “enough to send shiver down your spine.”
Parents seem to be deciding it’s worth the risks.
The CTIA, an international nonprofit membership organization for the wireless communications industry, says 56% of children ages 8-12 have a cell phone.
Verizon cites the Family Online Safety Institute that says children with a smartphone, on average, got it when they were just 7½ years old.
Verizon, which supports the Institute, advises customers to seek out the organization’s “7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting.”