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Sprint Enters Kids-Phone Market

Overland Park, Kan. — Sprint entered the kids-phone market with a $199 WeGo phone targeted to kids ages 5 to 12 and featuring parental controls and GPS tracking.

Positioned as a value-priced starter phone for kids, the WeGo is available in Sprint stores and indirect retailers at $199 up front or 24 monthly payments of $5. Service costs $9.99 per month for 1,000 minutes of talk and 1,000 text messages.

The WeGo joins a growing selection of phones and GPS locator watches targeted to kids and their parents. Late last year, startup MVNO Zact launched a Disney-themed Android smartphone for kids, and Filip Technologies launched a cellphone/GPS-locator watch for kids through AT&T.

At International CES, Techno Source and KD Interactive, makers of the Kurio line of Android tablets, launched their first kids smartphone, which features Android and 3G. And startup KGPS recently unveiled its HereO GPS-locator watch, through it lacks ability to make voice calls or send/receive messages. Firefly Mobile also sells its Firefly phone for kids, having entered the market in 2007, and MVNO Kajeet has offered kids phones since 2007.

The Sprint phone lacks dialing keypad but has one front button and two side volume keys that can be used for scrolling the LCD screen. A portal available via computer and iOS and Android apps lets parents locate their child’s device on a map, control device features such as contacts, and set up notifications.

Parents can program the phone to limit it to 20 phone numbers for outgoing and incoming calls and limit it to receiving text messages from any of up to 20 connections. The phone also offers 50 predetermined outgoing text message options, including: Yes, No, I’m at home, I’m at school, I need a ride, Call me please, I don’t feel well, I am with Mom, I need help, etc.

Parents can also choose to be notified via text or email of such occurrences as low battery, device powering down, SMS read receipt, panic alarm pulled, speed alert, wake alert and the like.

The panic alarm consists of a string that a child pulls to activate a loud buzzer and send a text message automatically to a parent with the child’s location.

Parents also set contacts, phone settings, and GPS tracking parameters. Parents can track their kid’s location on demand, specify times to do automatic safety checks, and send text and email alerts to verify a child made it to a destination safely. Parents can also follow a child by seeing the child’s location on a map within the portal every two minutes for an hour at a time.

A speed alert notifies parents if the child is in a vehicle that is exceeding a set speed.

Kids can also dial 911 by pressing the OK button quickly two times from the home screen.

The phone is water-resistant and shatterproof when dropped up to 12 feet.