At first, the notion of giving your seven-year-old a cell phone seems silly. But look closer, it actually might be a good idea.

Of course, you don't want to give Junior a phone with the same functionality as the one you carry, but wouldn't it be great to keep track of your kids all day long?

These gadget makers seem to be marketing not only to convenience, but to the greatest fear of every parent. Most of them don't come right out and say it, but they give you enough information to make you think it on your own. What if Junior is snatched on his way home from school? What if his estranged father picks him up from school and you never see him again?

Those scenarios are rare, but possible.

There is more benefit to these devices than being able to keep track of your kid. There is also convenience. They can call you if soccer practice is running late, or if they've forgotten their homework. You can call them if you are stuck in traffic -- or if you need them to catch a ride home with the neighbor.

So now that you are sold on the benefits of your child owning a cell phone, which one should you get?

You have a few choices:

The Firefly
For your 8 to 12-year-old

  • Mom and Dad dialing keys
  • Up to 20 programmable numbers
  • 850/1900 MHz - Dual-band compatibility
  • Incoming and outgoing call restrictions
  • Caller ID
  • Personalize: Color lights, animations and ring tones
  • Special 911 button
  • Interchangeable translucent shells
  • 12 fun ringtones
  • 7 screen colors
  • 5 animations
  • 96 x 32 pixel display with 7-color backlight

Available in Canada with Rogers Wireless and in the US with Cingular Wireless.

iKidsiKids GPS phone
Available only in Holland

This phone isn't available yet in North America, but it is worth mentioning, mostly because the phone's GPS tracker works even when the phone is off.

The device isn't really a phone -- it's more of a glorified walkie-talkie.
For 4 to 8-year-olds

  • Dials four pre-programmed numbers
  • Has three programmable "safe areas". If a child wanders out of the area, a text message is sent to the parent.
  • Location of child can be viewed on virtual map

Teddy PhoneBuddy Bear Phone
For 4 to 8-year-olds
Available only in Holland

This phone is available by the same company that sells the iKids phone, and is also only available in Holland, for now. I'm sure you can get one on Ebay, if you really want one.

  • Can dial four pre-programmed numbers
  • Has lowest SAR rating, and is paint free
  • No screen = durable
  • SOS button sends text message to parent