Today, children across the globe are increasingly tech-savvy. And since they see smartphones and tablets all around them, they will eventually ask for one of their own. While the decision of when to purchase a smartphone for a child (if at all) is a personal one that varies for every family, if you have decided it’s time to give your child a smartphone, the next step is to decide which one.
Consider these ten tips before buying your child a smartphone:
1. Purchase for the Right Reasons
Young children may desire a smartphone simply to feel that they fit in with their friends, or it may be for safety reasons and to keep in touch with parents. Before purchasing a smartphone for your child, ensure that it is the best option for your family. If not, consider other options, such as traditional cell phones or tablets.
2. Choose the Operating System
While adults generally have their own preferences when it comes to iOS or Android operating systems, there is a big difference between the two when it comes to parental controls and monitoring. Smartphones that operate with iOS generally leave the user (or parent) with less control over the system than Android systems. Look at which type of controls you will want and which operating system is best for your needs.
3. Investigate Parental Controls
Although the operating system has a lot to do with the parental control options available, thoroughly investigate the parental controls that the phone itself has to offer. Some smartphones may have features that make parental controls easier to access than others. Likewise, ensure that the parental control features or app can be secured with a password.
4. Take Price into Consideration
There are many different smartphones available in varying price ranges. In general, it is best to opt for a lower- to middle-of-the-road-priced smartphone for a child. This is because children tend to lose, forget, or accidentally damage them as they are learning to be responsible smartphone owners.
5. Purchase the Insurance
If you choose a device that comes with a contract, consider purchasing the equipment insurance plan. This will ensure that there is coverage in the event that the phone is lost, damaged, defective, or stolen.
6. Opt for Prepaid
While you may not choose to use a prepaid phone for yourself, it is a popular way to introduce smartphones to children. There is no contract, so if the phone is lost or otherwise not being used, you simply do not purchase service for that month. Also, children are unable to make in-app purchases or use more data than they have available, which eliminates concerns of a surprisingly high phone bill.
7. Buy a Protective Case
While searching for the ideal smartphone, look into the protective cases that are available for the model you are considering. Some phones will not have many options for heavy-duty cases while others will have a large selection. The case does not have to be a costly one to be effective, but it should offer both screen and body protection.
8. Set and Discuss Rules
Naturally, before selecting any device, set the rules and discuss them with your child. To enforce rules such as no games after bedtime, look for a device that will allow you to set time limits. If this feature is not built in, research whether there is an app to meet your needs within the phone’s app store.
9. Consider Use
Aside from phone calls and text messages, the device will likely be used to play games, watch videos, take pictures, and browse the web. Take your child’s favorite activities into consideration to ensure that it is the right device for them.
10. Research Storage Space
Some smartphones will leave the child with no space remaining after downloading an app or two. An additional SD card can provide space for content such as photographs and videos but may lack the ability to store apps. Research the phone’s storage level and decide whether or not it will be enough to meet your child’s needs.