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Sprint’s Safety-Focused WeGo Handset Lets Your 5-Year-Old Phone Home

It’s the modern parent’s dilemma. You want to use the technology in your pocket to make sure your kids are safe and always within reach. But you don’t want to put an expensive handheld computer in the fingers of an 8-year-old who will drop it 15 seconds after you tell him, “Be careful with that,” or one that will send your data bills through the roof.

The FiLIP watch is one possible solution to that problem. On Friday, Sprint introduced another. The WeGo is a super-simple cellphone, designed for kids from 5 to 12. It aims to give parents sophisticated tracking capabilities while letting kids master basic communications skills.

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A review unit was not available at press time. But at initial glance, there are three features that make the Sprint WeGo stand out from run-of-the-mill flip phones.

One is its simple design. There’s just one button on the front for making calls, and two buttons on the side for scrolling up or down through a list of people your child may contact. If your child feels like he’s in danger, he can pull a ring on a string, which sounds an alarm and immediately sends you a text. When you call the child back, the phone’s microphone and camera are immediately activated.

(The WeGo is also durable: Sprint claims the water-resistant handheld device can withstand a drop of up to 12 feet without shattering.)

The second standout feature are the parental controls. You can enter up to 20 numbers your child can call; these are also the only numbers that can call him. You can put the phone in silent mode during school hours or late at night. You can use a web portal to track his location, get text messages when he arrives at school or at home, and get alerts if he’s traveling in a vehicle that’s exceeding the speed limit. An accelerometer in the phone can even let you know if he’s gotten out of bed in time for school.

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WeGo lets you set up “geofences” in multiple locations and get text alerts when your child enters or leaves one. (Sprint)

The third is the phone’s relatively low cost: The WeGo costs $120, which you can pay off over 24 months if needed, plus $10 a month for 1,000 minutes of talking and 1,000 texts. Because there’s no keyboard or keypad on the device, the text messages are limited to 50 preset phrases like “I’m at home,” “I need a ride,” or “Call me, please.”

Super-simple phones aimed at the very young were trendy a few years back, when the Firefly Mobile was introduced. Later, Verizon offered the LG Migo, a similarly basic and colorful handset for the Crayola crowd. Verizon discontinued the Migo a few years ago; Firefly phones are still available with pay-as-you-go plans, but with none of the parental controls.

With the rise of devices like the FiLIP and the WeGo, phones for the smallest members of our families may be experiencing a bit of a comeback. We’ll have more to say when we get our hands on a WeGo later this month.

Questions, complaints, kudos? Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com