6,473 Texts a Month!

February 25, 2009

by Carol Politi

The Washington Post recently wrote a fascinating article discussing kids and texting.  It included some interesting points of view on whether the current texting phenomenon is negatively impacting the social and educational development, and family life, of today’s kids.  There were several reasonable expert sources pointing out the benefits texting can have in keeping kids and families socially connected.

Our experience at kajeet is that while parenting styles differ, virtually all parents believe the social, educational, and family connections their kids make are extremely important.  Some limit texting to accommodate these goals and others enable texting to accommodate them.  Even experts can’t agree on the topic so we should expect to see this kind of variation among parents.

I do think in 20 years we will all think about texting very differently than we do today.  Regardless,  I would also bet that virtually everyone might believe some level of moderation is a good idea.  For example, it would be great if both dinner and a nights sleep could be uninterrupted.

kajeet offers flexible parental controls that help parents set limits when rules alone might not work.  For example, TimeManager will block texts and calls at certain times of the day and night (both sent and received).  WalletManager provides usage limits so parents and kids can set a budget and kids can make choices on how much calling or texting to do – within the budgeted limits.

What’s your view on texting?  Do you see advantages to letting your kids text?  How much is too much?

Getting the Word Out

February 23, 2009

by Daniel Neal

I’ll be speaking at 2 interesting events in the Washington, DC area this week.  The first is Changing the Game: Taking Advantage of Eureka Moments and Other Creative Ways for Nonprofits to Approach the Economic Crisis.” This is being put on by some good friends of mine, Vince and Janalee Jordan-Meldrum and Peter Loge, experts in the non-profit field (and so much more!).  The event they’ve put together is about how to reach across all sorts of boundaries when you are confronting challenges (such as our current economic crisis) that threaten the life and health of your organization.  I’ll be talking about how specific things we are doing in our business might be useful to non-profit organizations, and how we are working with non-profits today in new and economically productive ways.  This event is on February 24, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  You can learn more about it here.

On Thursday, February 26, I’ll be on a panel at the “6th Annual Bootcamp For Growing Companies and Entrepreneurs.” I participated in this event last year and it is excellent.  It’s just what it says it is (minus the push-ups and gruel).  I learned a lot myself from all types of business builders.  You can learn about the Bootcamp here.

by Carol Politi

Consumer Reports just did an analysis of the Best and Worst Cell Phone Deals. Their takeaway: “A Two Cell Phone Family Could Save $220 Per month By Going Prepaid”. They also noted that prepaid allows you to cut your expenses by decreasing usage and changing plans when you happen to need your phone less or if you want to decrease expenses any one month. Of course, I’m not unbiased – at kajeet we have always been advocates of no contract plans – especially for kids whose usage tends to be moderate.

The message is getting out – more than 45% of new mobile subscribers this year are predicted to be prepaid (Strategy Analytics). However, there is still a perception by many that the extra family plan line costs only $10 per month. The reality is that second lines cost an average of $35/month (iGr Research did a detailed analysis of this when they studied kid phone use). Why? The $10 is just the carrier service fee. It turns out that carriers actually give you fewer minutes with a family plan than they give you with an individual plan. Let’s say you have been paying $59 for your individual plan. In many contract plans you would receive 900 minutes. Move to a contract family plan and you are paying 69.99 for 700 minutes – that’s $10 more for 200 less minutes. If you really needed those minutes you would have to move up – but the next plan you can get is actually the 1400 minute plan that costs $89.99!

So families add a cell phone but actually get fewer minutes for a higher price. And contract plans encourage “supersizing” as they have overages charges that are expensive and costly. So families end up not using all their minutes every month. On top of this you incur taxes, line fees, and charges…

No wonder many people are moving to prepaid. On a prepaid plan, when the budgeted allowance is used up, the phone no longer works. This is great for budgeting and why almost 40% of parents buy prepaid phones for their kid’s first phone.

Good for budgeting, but a significant downside when you are talking about a safety phone for kids. That is why the kajeet service offers two “wallets”. One – the kid wallet – can be used to set a budget with your kids. The second – the parent wallet – can be used to pay for calls and texts to and from parent numbers so that these always go through.

Also – with kajeet there are no expensive overages and no extra fees assessed – what you see on the price plan is what you see on the bill. And if you do purchase a pak and run out of minutes, you simply pay the standard 10 cents per minute.

A bit of a sales pitch today! I am happy to see Consumer Reports assess cell phone contract plans and become a prepaid advocate. What is holding you back from considering a prepaid plan?

Smartphones Making Kids Dumb?

February 13, 2009

by Carol Politi

Advertising Age published an article tackling the issue of whether technology is making our kids dumb. There is a real fear that technology of all sorts – phones, social & gaming networks, etc. – will drive a new generation of kids that don’t read, can’t write, and that do not understand how to socially interact with other kids and adults.

Completely avoiding new technology is difficult – the world does move on. And in the case of cell phones, it is often more difficult for parents to deal with the loss of a cell phone than it is for their kids. However, I think we all struggle with how to ensure safe and appropriate limits.

One way to increase safety and set limits is through tools. I just had a discussion today about the fact that you can almost always make any technology safer by going into “settings” on the application. kajeet phones come with tools for parents and kids that are extremely useful in setting limits – and that can help keep kids away from inadvertent trouble (e.g., that phone that rings during school or friends that do think it is OK to call at 3AM).

However, these tools and controls are also useful to help drive a conversation with kids about limits and appropriate use. I think this conversation may be even more important than the controls themselves.

How much should be spent each month? Go to the kajeet WalletManager with your child and discuss budgets and allowances. When should the phone be available for use? Go to TimeManager and discuss the use of the phone during school hours and after certain hours of the night. Not ready for instant or picture messaging on the mobile? Discuss which services are appropriate (and turn off the ones that are not in FeatureManager).

The purchase of a first phone is a milestone in most kid’s lives – and they are at an age where they can collaborate with their parents to set up rules for appropriate use. We may find that most kids, if asked, will set their limits more stringently than their parents.

Let us know how you introduced limits and responsible use with your child’s first phone.

by Carol Politi

kajeet Certified Refurbished LG LX150 - $19.99

kajeet Certified Refurbished LG LX150 - $19.99

Even people who are employed are working to save money “just in case” and to be able to donate more to those in need. At kajeet we are hearing from many families that cell phones are a required expense because they want to make sure their kids stay safe when they are out of arms reach.

We are tailoring our offers to respond to these difficult times and to make sure we have an offer that works for every family. As part of this effort we are expanding the sales of certified refurbished phones on our site. All the refurbished phones are high quality phones and they are available for significant discounts off the price of the devices if purchased new. Kajeet.com has 4 different models of refurbished handsets including the LG LX150 for only $19.99.

To certify the phones we inspect them, install new software, and put them in new packaging (with manuals, etc.). Each is provided with a 90 day warranty. We also support our standard 30 day money back guarantee on any refurbished phone purchased. Details come with your phone, but in a nutshell if you are not happy you can send the phone back and get a refund.

Refurbished phones are a great solution for trying to save money while making sure you can stay connected to your child. Spread the word!