Kid's First Smartphone: 7 Tips to Consider Before Buying
Summer’s over and the kids are gearing up to head back to class. Parents rejoice! Teachers prepare! And kids, possibly dread, their return to school. You’ve got all the back to school basics covered, new supplies, new threads, and fresh haircuts. But is your kid ready for a smartphone this year?
“All my friends have one,” they’ll say, as they remind you that having a smartphone allows you to always know where they are. They’ll also be able to text their friends, send memes, play “Clash of Clans,” and stream the latest funny videos.
However, giving your kid a smartphone could prove to be an awesome lesson in responsibility and maturity. There are all these cool, new apps that will help them stay on top of homework.
It goes without saying – if you decide to get your kid a smartphone – you’ll want to know what type of limits you can set on usage and get a phone that’s suited to their needs.
Here are a few things to consider as you make your decision:
Different smartphones have different platforms and operating systems, so choosing the right one will depend on the best fit for your child and your family. Pro tip: It pays to stay with the platform the rest of the family uses, for compatibility-sake. Sharing calendars, music, and apps, as well as having parental control options, are made much easier if everyone is on the same page. Not to mention, having the same messaging apps helps you understand exactly how your child is texting with you and with others!
You might think that your 11-year-old does not need a $500 phone (and for good reason, can you find both of your shoes first?). But it might make good sense to buy a new phone, as it will come with a warranty. And let’s face it, your kid’s phone is more likely to be lost, broken, or stolen. It just comes with the territory, as kids work their way toward being more responsible and mature. You might even consider purchasing the phone using a credit card that has a good purchase protection plan. It could double the manufacturer’s warranty, or replace the device if it’s lost or stolen.
DURABILITYEvery phone needs some protection, and a phone for kids, even more so! Some of the built-in features to look for are protection from scratches, drops, and interactions with water. And with the go-everywhere nature of smartphones, a durable screen protector or case is a no-brainer, like the hardworking options from brands like Otterbox.
GPS TRACKINGYour kid might lose his phone, or forget to answer when you’re trying to track them down. To work against this worrisome pitfall, look for a phone with GPS tracking technology, such as the Android Device Tracking Manager, that can help you pinpoint the exact location of your kid’s phone – wherever in the world it might be.
PARENTAL CONTROLSAs a parent, it’s a good idea to stay on top of what your kid can access – particularly with the ease and usability of smartphones. Some built-in features to consider are controls that let you manage access to the Internet, limit phone numbers, prevent or limit app downloads, set time limits, or monitor usage hours. In addition, there are several third-party apps that provide extra protection, like Kids Place Parental Control and Screentime for Android.
BATTERY LIFEKids are still learning how to be adults, and part of that process is not always remembering to charge their phones. After a long day at school, you don’t want deal with trying to track down your kid as a result of a dead phone. . Look for a phone with long-lasting battery power. And for extra security, consider getting her a small, affordable portable battery pack so she always has a backup if she needs it.
CALLING AND DATA PLANHere’s where it pays to do your homework. Compare contracts with no-contract phones. Compare prices for limited usage versus unlimited texting and data. And definitely don’t underestimate the opportunities kids have to use whopping amounts data before you realize it!
We have a range of hardworking, no-contract smartphones that have the features and capabilities that are a great fit for first-time smartphone users. Check out some of the solid options that could be great for your kid's first phone.
And to help ensure safe, productive smartphone use for everyone in the family, download this Family Contract for Smartphone Use, which outlines the responsibilities that come with having a smartphone – addressed both to teens and parents.