I did not get my first cell phone until I was 21. Had no use for one, nor the funds for it.
That being said $190 a month for a cell phone plan with two phones is absolutely highway robbery!! I have two smartphones with 5 GB monthly data, unlimited text, unlimited free incoming calls, 1000 minutes for the two phones, with free mobile to mobile, plus insurance at $6 a phone. We pay $131 a month. We NEVER use all our minutes b/c we text. You might consider looking into another carrier if price is a concern. Now, b/c I get points for this: Might I recommend US Cellular - if they're in your area. After the first 2 year contract, you are no longer bound by any contract, yet you can upgrade your phone like with any other company, but WITHOUT renewing or extending a contract (pricing of plans stay the same throughout your relationship with US Cellular). You can learn more at www.buyuscc.com. Jenn, USCC Customer Crew
Ok... sorry. I get points when I mention US Celluar - those points earn me freebies like accessories for my phone, ringtones, term buyout (gets you a new phone as early as every 18 months), free phones, etc. They don't have the ever-coveted iPhone, but they have the Samsung Galaxy SIII, which is also a highly coveted phone. Ask about the Belief Project when you call.
That being said, I would probably get them regular phones with a texting plan and just monitor their use. If you trust them like you say you do, there won't be any reason to question getting them a phone... and if they have iPads, they don't need smartphones, just a means of communication.