Trends: Phones for kids
The Washington Post did a study that show lots of kids use cell phones. 14% of 10-11 years old up to 82% at 18. Providers have been promoting cell phones to kids for a while now, but there's always been an issue with parental controls, and the idea of young kids being able to make calls to anywhere. A new phone called the Firefly Phone solves that problem and has been for sale in Canada for a few months. Cingular will soon introduce it in the US, aimed directly at 12 and under.
The basic idea is that the phone is small, easy to use, has only a few buttons, and is locked down by parents. The parents set a few numbers in the phone and the kid can only call those numbers. On prepaid, the kid can't go over the amount of minutes available. I guess it can be a useful emergency device for young kids, but it's unlikely that anyone who meets people in their school who have real cell phones will be satisfied with this. NTT DoCoMo seems to be going the other way using real phones with kids features.