Firefly Mobile has released a new phone designed specifically for kids between the ages of 8 and 12. Using the ergonomic principles of designing specifically for a target demographic, the phone is smaller and has functions that balance the desires of parents and the needs of the young user.
Weighing in at about two ounces, the small phone has only five keys. It can only send and receive calls from a stored list of 22 numbers, including preprogrammed “Mom” and “Dad” keys. There’s also an emergency 911 button with accidental call protection that will dial directly to emergency personnel.
The phone costs about US$100 and comes with 30 prepaid minutes. With prepaid minutes, parents are relieved of unexpectedly high phone charges from irresponsible use.
For the kids, there are customizable faceplates, changeable ringtones, and a “Fireworks” button which sets the phone into a colorful strobe for 30 seconds. However, the features kids might want most, such as games, text messaging, and Internet access, were all left out of the design. Doing so makes the phone more likely to be accepted at school, where more and more teachers are banning cell phones in the classroom.
The lack of “fun features” also gives parents some peace of mind that the phone will be used only for making phone calls to predetermined numbers, making it less likely to be inappropriately used.