Best Emergency Phones For Kids Reviews and Buying Guide

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As a parent, from the moment we looked into that newborn’s eyes, we realized we are responsible for this little human. As they grow and the world changes, even if we try to hold our kids tight, we realize that there are times when we simply cannot be there by their side.

We use every means to make sure they are taken care of and are safe when we cannot be there. Even parents who are hesitant to introduce their children to technology soon understand that technology in the form of emergency phones for kids can step in to help provide peace of mind.

Knowing that there is always an open line of immediate communication is important or possibly means the difference between life or death. Knowing our children always have a way to contact mom or dad is the important first step. But, what is the best way to establish this constant communication contact without opening up a new world of online dangers?

Our Top Picks At A Glance

Best For Kids
Jitterbug Smart2 No-Contract Easy-to-use Smartphone for Seniors by GreatCall,Black
Best For Pre-Teens
Nokia 3310 TA-1036 Unlocked GSM 3G (At&T Tmobile Metro PCS Mint Latin Caribbean) - Warm Red
CAT PHONES S41 Unlocked Rugged Waterproof Smartphone, Network Certified (GSM), U.S. Optimized (Single Sim) with 2-year Warranty Including 2 Year...
Jitterbug Smart2 No-Contract Easy-to-use Smartphone for Seniors by GreatCall,Black
Nokia 3310 TA-1036 Unlocked GSM 3G (At&T Tmobile Metro PCS Mint Latin Caribbean) - Warm Red
CAT PHONES S41 Unlocked Rugged Waterproof Smartphone, Network Certified (GSM), U.S. Optimized (Single Sim) with 2-year Warranty Including 2 Year...
Android touchscreen phone
Retro Mobile Phone
Durable and Waterproof Phone
Best For Kids
Jitterbug Smart2 No-Contract Easy-to-use Smartphone for Seniors by GreatCall,Black
Jitterbug Smart2 No-Contract Easy-to-use Smartphone for Seniors by GreatCall,Black
Android touchscreen phone
Best For Pre-Teens
Nokia 3310 TA-1036 Unlocked GSM 3G (At&T Tmobile Metro PCS Mint Latin Caribbean) - Warm Red
Nokia 3310 TA-1036 Unlocked GSM 3G (At&T Tmobile Metro PCS Mint Latin Caribbean) - Warm Red
Retro Mobile Phone
CAT PHONES S41 Unlocked Rugged Waterproof Smartphone, Network Certified (GSM), U.S. Optimized (Single Sim) with 2-year Warranty Including 2 Year...
CAT PHONES S41 Unlocked Rugged Waterproof Smartphone, Network Certified (GSM), U.S. Optimized (Single Sim) with 2-year Warranty Including 2 Year...
Durable and Waterproof Phone

Do Your Children Need An Emergency Phone?

If your child is ever away from you, whether this is a planned drop-off or an unforeseen emergency, your child needs a way to contact you that is a secure means of communication. When you cannot be with your child 24/7, it’s time to find a phone for children that they can quickly use.

Emergency phones for kids can be a simple means of communication with a constant two-way connection available for sweet, simple messages. Or, it could be a lifesaver in the case of an emergency.

What Are Some Situations Your Kids May Need An Emergency Phone?

As parents, we know that we are raising children who are learning to make their way in a dangerous world. To keep them safe, we often need to weigh the dangers to come up with a workable, safe solution.

Giving your children freedom to learn responsibility and keeping them safe from all danger is a tricky tightrope we all walk as parents. In this case, is it safer for a child to have an emergency phone with limitations and parameters you set?

Not only are there online dangers, but everyday emergencies that could happen. While we don’t want our children exposed to inappropriate content that comes hand-in-hand with cell phones connected to full online access, we need a means of communication.

Thankfully, there are emergency phones designed specifically for kids or apps that a parent can download onto a kid’s or teen’s phone to monitor what they have access to.

In some situations, if the child has a phone for emergencies, it may literally mean the difference between life or death.

Following are several examples of emergencies when an emergency cell phone proves helpful. Some of them are more dreadful to think about than others but could happen:

  • An activity let out early, and they need to be picked up
  • You need to communicate with your child let them know who is picking them up
  • They need to communicate with you to ask if it’s ok to ride home with a friend
  • There is a change of plans, and your child needs you to know
  • They are in an automobile accident and need to call for help
  • They forgot their backpack, dance shoes, or band instrument and need you to bring it to them
  • They get lost walking home
  • They are being bullied and needs intervention
  • Your teen finds him or herself at a party where they start drinking, and they need you to come get them
  • A natural disaster like a fire, earthquake, or tornado
  • Child is hurt and needs medical assistance
  • Active shooter
  • They get abducted

Whatever the emergency, Ready.gov suggests that families make a plan so they are prepared in case of an emergency. Your plan needs to consist of, at the very least, where you will meet and who to contact. Your family’s safety plan also needs to have clear guidelines in place as to how your child will communicate with you in an emergency.

What Exactly Is An Emergency Phone For Kids?

An emergency phone for kids is a communication device that allows them to reach you whenever they need to. It is meant to be used primarily for emergency contact, so it does not have an unlimited, unsupervised connection to the internet or other apps you may not want your kids to download.

You still have parental controls to monitor not only where they are, but also what they interact with on their emergency phone.  As a parent, you have many options to choose from that range from a Walkie-Talkie style communication device with an SOS button, to a basic phone or flip phone. Some gadgets require you to download apps for parents. There are even kids’ phones that only call parents.

Smartphones vs. Feature Phones For Kids

You’ve been a parent long enough to understand that what meets the needs of a young child is not going to be what your emerging or growing teen needs. Let’s look at some of the best smartphone features for kids and how each one meets the needs of a very young child to a teen.

When considering a smartphone for kids, there are a lot of factors to consider. For instance, do you want one that can receive voice messages, do you want to look at smartphones, or basic phones like a flip phone model?

What is the best cell phone for young kids, and which ones work better for older children or teens? Some features to consider include:

  • reliable connection
  • durability
  • parental controls
  • battery life
  • affordability

Starting with the basics, now it’s time to personalize the kind of phone that fits you and your child best. Before deciding on a phone, ask yourself some questions to determine what kind of phone is best for you:

  • Is location tracking important to you?
  • Do you want your child to have internet access or the ability to download apps?
  • Do you want to specify who your child can communicate with?
  • Do you want to text and email your child, or is only calling or having Walkie Talkie access sufficient?
  • Do you want your child to have access to a camera for photos or videos?
  • Do you want to set parental controls or be able to monitor your child’s communications?

Best Emergency Phones for Kids – Our Recommendations

Jitterbug

Sale
Jitterbug Smart2 No-Contract Easy-to-use Smartphone for Seniors by GreatCall,Black
  • Large touchscreen makes it even easier to read. The 13.0 Megapixel built-in camera with flash has easy-to-use photo sharing.
  • Simple menu organized in a single list with large letters and icons makes it easy to navigate. Our simplest smartphone ever!
  • Easy-to-use smartphone with exclusive features that are only available on the GreatCall network. Activate with GreatCall by phone or on the GreatCall website.
  • No contracts or cancellation fees with dependable Nationwide coverage. Affordable, flexible plans with data as low as $17.48 A month.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve associated the name of this phone with phones for seniors, as in grandma and not grandchild. But, the technology that is great to help senior citizens out in an emergency also works for children. Of course, you’re not going to get any Medicare discounts when you use it for your kid.

The Jitterbug phone runs on Android which can be a pro or a con depending on your preference.

Jitterbug Pros

  • The Jitterbug phone requires no contracts or cancellation fees.
  • Runs on a dependable nationwide network with affordable plans, many less than $20 a month
  • Has a large touchscreen to make it easy to read and work
  • Simple-to-use menu with easy navigation

Jitterbug Cons

  • It does have a camera built-in, so if you’re not wanting to set your child free to take pictures, then this phone may not be the best option for you.
  • Some features are only available on the Lively network, formerly called GreatCall, which uses Verizon.

KidsConnect KC2

KidsConnect Secure Phone 4G Kids GPS Tracker, Cell Phone for Children, Seniors, Alzheimer's, Autism
  • You Must Purchase A Cellular Plan From KidsConnect, You Cannot Use Your Own Plan.
  • Worlds First 4G GPS Tracker Phone - Parental Control - Calls & Texts ONLY To And From Numbers Programmed By Parents
  • No Internet - No Apps - Your Kids Will Be Safe From Online Dangers.
  • Touch Screen - SOS Button - Geo-Fencing - Location History

If you want a phone that is purely for emergency contact, this one will do the trick. KidsConnect KC2 has no internet access and no apps to download.

KidsConnect Pros

  • Uses a Touch Screen with an SOS emergency button
  • Provides you with a GPS tracker
  • Parental controls using calls and texts only to and from numbers you choose

KidsConnect Cons

  • The KidsConnect KC2 is purely an emergency phone, so it has limited features, which could be a pro or a con depending on your preference.

CAT Phone S41

If your child is rough on gadgets, CAT Phone S41 is very durable and kids safe It is a rugged and waterproof phone that runs on Android.

CAT Phone Pros

  • Durable
  • Kid Safe
  • Rugged
  • Waterproof
  • One huge pro for this phone is the battery life. It not only holds its battery power, but you can also use it to charge other devices or accessories with the battery share feature.

CAT Phone Cons

  • A possible con with this phone is that it has limited features. 

Best Phone For Pre or Early Teens

Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310 TA-1036 Unlocked GSM 3G (At&T Tmobile Metro PCS Mint Latin Caribbean) - Warm Red
  • 3G Unlocked GSM Carrier Desbloqueados GSM (NOT for Verizon Sprint Net10 or Any CDMA Carrier)
  • 1 Micro Sim Card 3G: 850/1900 Mhz 2G GSM: 850/900/1900/2100 MHZ
  • FM radio and MP3 player for music 16 MB storage plus a MicroSD card slot with support up to 32 GB (not included)
  • Headphone jack for your tunes / 2 MP camera with LED flash for simple snaps

The Nokia 3310 provides the look and feel of a cell phone in a retro style. It runs on 4G Android, powered by a removable battery.

Nokia Pros

  • Allows Talk and Text
  • SD card for expandable memory
  • Headphone jack

Nokia Cons

  • A possible con is that the phone allows access to social media, such as Twitter.
  • A possible con, but may be a pro for some is that it allows access to FM radio and MP3 music
  • Limited storage without SD card
  • 2 MP camera with LED flash

Tracfone

Tracfone Motorola Moto e 4G LTE Prepaid Smartphone (Locked) - Midnight Blue - 32GB - Sim Card Included - CDMA
  • Carrier: This phone is locked to Tracfone which means this Device can only be used on the Tracfone network
  • 6.2" Max Vision Display; 1.8 GHz Octa-Core Processor; Android 10; Fingerprint Reader
  • Dual 13MP plus 2MP Rear Camera/5MP Front Facing Camera; Internal memory 32GB; supports Micro SD memory card up to 512GB (not included); 2GB RAM
  • 4G LTE; Wi-Fi Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology; IP52 Water-Repellent; Fingerprint Sensor; Exclusive Moto Experiences

When your child is ready for a “real” phone, the Tracfone is a great way to ease them into full responsibility while still maintaining some amount of parental control through settings or apps and monitoring. It runs on Android.

Tracfone Pros

  • Looks, feels, and functions as a full-access phone with the ability to download parental control apps and features
  • Fingerprint reader for added security
  • Supports micro SD card
  • Dual camera, which could be listed in the cons if you don’t want a camera on your teen’s phone

Tracfone Cons

  • Only runs on Tracfone network

Smartwatches As An Alternative Emergency Phone

If you’re hesitant to put a phone in the hands of your child for fear they will lose it or break it, a smartwatch may be your answer. A smartwatch sits on your child’s wrist like any other watch, so you know that it’s always there with your child unless they take it off. Also, if they attend a school or other activities where a teacher makes the child turn in their phones at the beginning of class, the watch is less likely to be “confiscated” by a well-meaning teacher. This means, if an emergency pops up while they are in class, your child will be able to contact you immediately.

Beacon Pet Kids Smartwatch, 4G WiFi GPS LBS Tracker SOS Emergency Call Video Chat Children Smartwatches, IP67 Waterproof Phone Watch for Boys...
  • ⌚【 4G Multifunctional Digital Watch 】 In addition to the GPS positioning and SOS function, this smart watch also supports calling, power comsumption battery management,weather forecast, remote photography,remote...
  • 📣【IP67 Waterproof GPS Phone Watch】: HUIJIE Kids Watch is IP67 water-resistant, you can wear it when wash your hands or play with water. High sensitive color screen make it easy to operate and give you clear...
  • 📲【 Video Call & Voice Chat 】kids smart watch is the best cell phone alternative for kids. 4g smart watch phone with 2-way video calling feature, face to face video talk with your child anytime anywhere. The...
  • 📡【 Kids Safety Tracker 】 4G Wifi GPS LBS real time positioning, More precise positioning than 2G net watch. It's also can check location history through the day. Know where your children are anytime. In addition,...

If you opt for the SmartWatch, the Beacon Pet Kids SmartWatch is a nice option. It has 4G and WiFi capability as well as tracking options. Feel confident with the SOS emergency call video chat. It is compatible with Android or iPhone iOS. One great perk is that it is waterproof.

Frequently Asked Questions

What age is appropriate for a child to have a cell phone?

According to statistics, the average age when parents give a child a phone is age 11. However, some kids have a phone as early as age 2, and another study showed that more than half of American children had their own phone by age 6. In terms of finding a phone to fit a child’s age, it’s important that you think of your child’s maturity level more than their actual age. Is your child responsible enough to have a cell phone?

How do I talk to my child without a phone?

If your child does not have a phone, you can use Walkie Talkie technology with a 2-way radio for voice and instant messaging instead of phone calls. Another option to avoid too much cell phone usage is a feature phone or Relay phone that acts like a Walkie Talkie but has the range of a cell phone. Alternatively, a SmartWatch made for kids will allow 2-way text messaging. 

How do I talk to my child about using a phone?

Now is the time to set the boundaries as to what you expect from your kids. While your main reason for allowing your child to have a phone may be for safety reasons, some parents use a kid-appropriate cell phone to ease their child into eventually having their own phone. The important lessons to stress from the start are about responsibility a well as safety.

Also talk to them about appropriate cell phone behavior, such as no bullying over calls or texts as well as what is inappropriate content. Each family is going to have its own rules that are important. Make sure you stress what is important to you. Go over a list of contacts with your child whom you deem appropriate.

What is the best data plan for my child’s emergency phone?

The answer to this question is going to come down to a matter of choice. However, every major wireless carrier, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon offers cell phone plans and carries phones or smartwatches for kids that work on their network. Start with the wireless network you already use, and see what they have to offer before shopping around.

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