First, what are their NEEDS? In our case, the primary purpose was to have a way to call (or text) home when they were out and needed something. Walking home from school - extra security. Practice or school event done early, and need a ride home? We need to find out where you are, or why you're not where we thought? Then come the WANTS: texting friends, email, Facebook, surfing the web…
After looking at many plans, and many reviews, I determined that Republic Wireless was our best option. Their contract-free phones are all Motorola phones, run the latest version of Android, and start at $99 with a 4.3" HD display. They have a middle-of-the-road option at $149, and go up to a high-end phone for $299. Again, no contracts, no 2-year commitment. Cancel anytime, and you still have a decent wifi "tablet".
Republic Wireless is a "wifi first" service. This means that they will use a wifi signal for everything (talk, text, data) first, and only if a wifi signal is not available will it move to use cellular (over the Sprint network). Wifi is available at many place, including many homes (you probably already have wifi for a laptop or phone, or a game console), businesses (McDonalds, Buffalo Wild Wings, coffee shops, the library, Mayo Clinic, etc.), or at friend's homes. So when you're connected to a wifi signal, your phone uses that.
For only $5/month, you get unlimited talk/text/data over wifi, but nothing else if you're not within range of a wifi signal. This may be a good option to replace a home (landline) phone if you have wifi already.
$10/month gets you all that, plus unlimited talk/text over cellular (this must be their most popular choice); you get data (i.e. to use Facebook) only over wifi. This is the plan that my walk-to-school son has - he can call or text us on his way to or from school if he needs to, and can do everything else that a smart phone can do when he's at home connected to wifi.
The next level up is $25/month, and that gives you everything in the $10/month plan, plus unlimited 3G data (so you can use Facebook or Snapchat on the bus or in the car, or example). Finally, for $40/month you get everything in the $10/month plan, plus unlimited 4G data (if you have a 4G signal, and a 4G-capable phone).
No other hidden fees, just some standard taxes that you pay for all phones. And you can easily change plans twice a month at no cost (the plans would be pro-rated) - this would be useful if you're normally a home-data-user ($10/month), but are going on vacation away from a steady wifi signal.
It's worth checking out! No contracts, cancel anytime. By using Republic's $10/month plan, instead of the Verizon $60/month plan, you'll save $1,200 over two years! If you use this link to sign up, you'll get a $20 statement credit (full disclosure: so will I!). Post comments here if you have questions, and contact My Techie Buddy if you need help learning to use your new phone!