By WALTER S. MOSSBERG
If you think there are already way too many people talking way too much, in way too many places, on mobile phones, brace yourself: a whole new demographic is about to join the mobile phone-toting army.
Apparently, some parents think it's a good idea to give a cellphone to their preteen children. And, ever anxious to please, the technology industry is ready with just such a gadget.
A new company, Firefly Mobile Inc., has introduced a small, colorful, cellphone that fits comfortably into the hands of kids aged 8 through12, and is greatly simplified so kids can easily use it. But the phone is also designed to strictly limit what the kids can do with it and to give parents control.
For instance, there is no key pad for dialing; out of the box, the phone can dial only numbers programmed into its phone book and large direct-dial buttons, presumably by parents.
My assistant Katie Boehret and I have been testing this mini phone, and we liked its kid-oriented features. Among other things, Firefly has a 911 button on its side for emergencies and its battery isn't removable because, according to the company's CEO, kids put their tongues on batteries.