5 Things to Consider When Your Child Wants a Smartphone

Do your kids have smartphones? Though I didn't get my first cell phone until I was 17 and living away from home, the world is a very different place today, and locally, anyhow, kids as young as middle school need smart phones to be able to keep up with their classmates and even homework assignments. My two older kids, 12 and 10, each have their own smart phone, and I'm very glad for that decision, but for those who haven't gotten their kids ones, but are considering it, this post from a reader has some good points to consider.

You might have been dreading the day that your child asks you for their own smartphone, but you knew that it would eventually come. These days, kids seem to be getting phones younger and younger, and there’s no set age for parents to give their kids a smartphone, making it difficult for parents to decide when it’s a good time. If your child has begun asking you for their own smartphone, here are some factors to consider before you go out and get one.

Is My Child Ready?

Perhaps more important than the cost side of things or which smartphone to go for is the question, is my kid ready for her own smartphone? Age is a big factor. Some kids have smartphones in primary school while other parents wait until high school starts before allowing their child to have their own phone; it all depends on your parenting style and what you deem best for your child. If your child spends a lot of time with another parent, other family members or playing with friends and needs to get in touch with you a lot, then you might decide that it’s a good idea to get them a smartphone earlier in life. Or you might want to wait until they’re walking or getting the bus to high school by themselves, which is another good time to give a child a phone.

Is It Safe?

Many parents are understandably worried about the safety of giving their child an iPhone or another smartphone handset. Perhaps you are concerned that strangers will be able to get in touch with your child and potentially put them at risk. It’s definitely worth sitting down with your child before you commit to getting them a smartphone, to make sure that they understand the potential dangers of using a smartphone, and laying down some firm ground rules, such as who they can use the phone to contact and which apps they can sign up for. You can also download parental control apps to your own phone, which provides you with information about what your child has been doing on their smartphone. Use these apps to track their device using GPS, which can provide peace of mind.

Some Basic Ground Rule Ideas:

Many parents get their child a smartphone on the basis that it is a privilege, not a right, and expect good behaviour from their child in return for being able to use the phone. if you are worried about the impact that having a smartphone might have on your child, then you might want to consider laying down some basic ground rules that they must agree to follow before you go and buy a phone for them. Some ideas that many parents have found to work successfully include:

  • Setting exemptions for certain apps that their child can download. For example, you might not want your younger child using social networking apps like Snapchat. If you decide to let them use these apps, they should expect to follow strict rules about the contacts they can add and let them know if you plan to use a parental control app to check up on who they’re adding.
  • Make sure that your child knows that some apps cost money and make some firm rules about what they can and can’t buy, especially if your debit or credit card is going to be the one paying for them! Some parents find that giving their child some of their pocket money in the form of an iTunes or Google Play Store gift card is a good idea if their child wants to download apps that aren’t free.
  • Put strict guidelines in place around when your child is allowed to be using their phone; after all, you don’t want them to be staring at it all day. For example, you might want to tell your child that they can use their phone for an hour after doing their homework in the evening, and it needs to be away before bedtime. Using a smartphone late into the night can seriously mess up sleeping patterns - even for adults - so it might be a good idea to get the whole family into the habit of putting phones and other electronics away around an hour before bed.

Contract or Pay as You Go?

A big factor to consider when getting your child their first smartphone is whether you’re going to sign up for a contract or buy them a handset outright and get a pay as you go SIM card. If you’re already in a smartphone contract for yourself, it might be worth looking into your options. Some networks allow you to take out a second phone as part of the same contract or will offer exclusive deals to existing customers who want to get a phone for a member of their family.

Many parents give their kids their old smartphone, too. If you’ve recently upgraded your iPhone to a new handset and the old one is just lying around, it could be a perfect starter handset for your child. If this is the case, then it’s definitely worth looking into SIM only plans since these tend to run on a month-by-month basis and you don’t need to commit to being tied into anything else.

The SIM only deals from Lebara are an excellent choice as they have many packages that are ideal for kids; your child could even afford their bundles with their own pocket money. You might even want to look into Lebara SIM-only plans for yourself since they allow you to share data with other users, and unlimited texts, minutes, and data for just £25 a month is a steal.

Which Smartphone Should I Get For Them?

Once you’ve decided that your child is responsible enough to have their own smartphone, they’re going to be very excited when you tell them and then take them to get their first handset. Most kids will want the newest iPhone since it’s cool, but if you’re like most parents, they’ll probably quickly learn that this is out of the question! Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable handsets to choose from for your child.

Apple is a good option since many of the older handsets, like the iPhone 7 or older iPhone SE can be very affordable, and if you have an iPhone, you can use the handy ‘Find My Friends’ feature with your child to quickly find out where they are.

Many Android handsets are also fairly affordable and since there’s a wider range compared to Apple, you’ll have more choice with brands like Samsung or Huawei - the cheaper models tend to still have really decent cameras, which is ideal if you’ve got a budding photographer.

Most parents don’t want to splash out on a brand new smartphone for their kid’s first handset, so look into refurbished deals, which you can get at a fraction of the price and in very good condition. Another upside to getting a refurbished handset is that you can often find smartphone models that are no longer available from the manufacturer, like the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7, which are no longer being sold on Apple’s website.

Getting your child their first smartphone is a big decision for parents, so consider what’s best for your child and make sure that they understand how to use it responsibly.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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