WASHINGTON — From the time they can pick up toy cellphones, kids want to play with them, and as they get into elementary school, they want their own phones.
Sprint recently jumped into the children’s market with a phone it’s marketing as one parents can use “to give their child the safety and communication tools they need when they are away from home.”
The WeGo phone is a waterproof, shatterproof (provided you don’t drop it more than 12 feet) phone with a simple design — a big button on the front to make calls and two on the side for scrolling through a contact list.
The phone is for 5- to 12-year-olds and gives parents the ability to program up to 20 incoming and outgoing numbers. Kids can call those numbers and/or send and receive texts from them.
The WeGo phone doesn’t have a keyboard or keypad, so it is programmed with 50 preset text messages that include “I don’t feel well” and “I am with mom.”
Sprint says the parents can use the WeGo as a training tool, letting a child “earn” more contacts as he shows he’s responsible.
Additionally, it has a 911 function activated by tapping the OK button twice and a panic function a child can use to send a parent a text by pulling on a string. When the parent calls the number back, a microphone and camera are immediately activated.
A speed-alert function lets a parent know if the child is in a car that’s going too fast when he shouldn’t be in a car at all. Sprint calls that function an abduction alert system.
Through a web portal, you can watch the phone’s location. (Courtesy of Sprint)
The cell has GPS tracking. Using a web portal, from any personal computer, Android or iOS device, you can know where the phone is. An interactive map lets you track it. If the child has the phone, a parent can watch the child’s location on a map every two minutes.
A function called “Scheduled Find” allows parents to verify that a child reached his destination by text or email.
WeGo gives parents the ability to know when the battery is running low, whether a text has been read and whether the device is powered down.
The phone also could be used by senior citizens and people with disabilities, Sprint says.
It’s on the market for $120, and can be bought with nothing down and payments of $5 a month. The $9.99 monthly service includes 1,000 minutes of talk and 1,000 text messages. Every minute after that costs 40 cents; every text after that, 20 cents.