Gabb phone review: Cellphone for kids without the internet worries
No social media
Real time GPS tracking
Giving older children some independence is important for their development, but it can be difficult for parents to feel safe letting children venture out on their own.
If you’ve been thinking about getting your kids a cell phone, but you’re worried they’re not quite ready for a full smartphone, a Gabb phone offers an internet and social media-free way to to keep in touch with your children. when they are not with you.
What is the Gabb Phone?
Essentially a portable version of the analog phones most of us grew up with, the Gabb phone for kids offers the ability to talk and text—and not much else.
There’s no internet access, no social media and no apps or games, but it does include GPS tracking as well as optional child-safe music streaming (which means no explicit lyrics).
The standard Gabb subscription does not allow users to send and receive images or group texts, but this can be added for an additional fee with the MMS add-on.
What network does Gabb wireless use?
Gabb has its own network, the Gabb Wireless Network, although they connect via Verizon. On the plus side, this means Gabb users can take advantage of Verizon’s vast network. The downside, however, is that since Gabb has its own network, you can’t add a Gabb phone to your existing plan, even if you’re a Verizon customer.
How much is a Gabb phone?
The Gabb wireless phone itself is free, although you have to pay a monthly plan fee to connect to the network.
For unlimited talk and text, it’s $24.99 per month with a two-year contract. If you want to add the MMS feature, it’s an extra $2 a month, and a warranty that covers damage from drops and spills will run you another $4.99 a month.
The Gabb music feature is free for the first 30 days, and an additional $4.99 per month after that.
What we like
This gives parents peace of mind
Children need independence as they get older, but as a parent it can be nerve-wracking not knowing where they are during the day – especially if they’re taking public transport to and from school.
I was worried that since the Gabb phone doesn’t have internet, it wouldn’t offer the ability to track my kids’ whereabouts, but in fact it has real-time GPS tracking so I could simply open the Gabb app. and see where my kids were at any point during the day.
Parents can also set various “safe zones” through the companion app, so that when kids and their Gabb phones venture outside the pre-set boundaries, they’ll receive a notification. I set safe zones for our neighborhood, the children’s school, and the various places of their extracurricular activities.
It makes it easy to communicate with my children
Whether you prefer to text or call, the Gabb phone has you covered. I could text my kid if I just had a question about something random — like what snacks they wanted from Trader Joe’s — but I also had the option of calling their Gabb phone for more urgent matters like a change in who chooses they got up from school, or that tennis class was cancelled.
The Gabb phone doesn’t have the magical ability to make them respond with more than just a “k”, but at least it gave me peace of mind that I always had an easy way to keep in touch with them throughout the day to stay
It has no distractions
My kids’ biggest complaint about the Gabb phone is exactly what I liked about it: There’s no internet, no social media, and no video games.
The last thing I want my 8 and 9 year olds to have is a cell phone with unfettered access to the web, so the fact that they found the Gabb phone “boring” is why it appeals to parents.
You can easily communicate with your children without worrying about them ending up on the dark web when they should be learning fractions.
What we didn’t like
There is no ability to block calls from unapproved numbers
While most kids’ smartwatches (including the Gabb watch) have a feature that allows parents to control which numbers they can call, the Gabb phone doesn’t.
This is a big in my opinion negative because I want to know exactly who is calling my children. In fact, when we first set up the Gabb phone, it got a lot of calls from random numbers. I was able to block calls from unknown numbers, but I really didn’t like that random phone numbers could call in the first place.
It feels like a huge parental control oversight, especially in a world of so many phone scams that younger kids wouldn’t be savvy enough to recognize.
It ends up being expensive
For a device that pretty much only offers texting and calling, the monthly fee feels high—especially if your child wants some of the add-ons. Yes, Gabb wireless offers unlimited phone calls and texts, but I’d guess that any of the kids who have a Gabb phone don’t use it that much.
Kids who will actually use the unlimited texting or calling feature are older — and more likely to have an actual smartphone.
They will not always have it with them
Unlike a smartwatch, which kids have on their body at all times, their phone is more likely to be left in their backpack or, worse, end up in lost and found. If you want the ability to call or text your kids throughout the day, a smartwatch offers the same features as a phone, but is less likely to lag behind.
Should you buy a Gabb phone?
Yes, if your child is dead silent on a phone
If your child has been begging for a mobile phone, but you feel uncomfortable giving them a device that can access the internet, the Gabb phone is a fantastic choice.
This still gives them a phone that can be used to call or text family and friends, but parents don’t have to worry about the dangers of unfettered internet or social media access. The Gabb Phone feels like a good first step for kids who are old enough to have some independence, but not quite old enough to brave the questionable content behind a smartphone screen.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
No social media
Real time GPS tracking