7 Tips for Buying Your Child’s First Smartphone
As parents, it’s normal that you’ll want your children to stay forever young. Seeing them grow up within the blink of an eye can be frightening. As your children get older, it’s inevitable that one of the first things they’ll demand is their own mobile phone. In the digital world we live in, smartphones are unavoidable, and when you factor in that roughly 95% of UK households own a mobile device, it may be time to let your children join in on the fun.
Understandably, you may have fears and reservations about letting your kid loose with a mobile device. However, there are tons of positives that are associated with mobile phone ownership. With so many options to consider, here are some key things to think about before purchasing your child’s first smartphone.
Establish the Need
Before looking into buying a smartphone for your child, you need to understand the difference between wants and needs. If your child is asking you day in day out for a smartphone, it can be easy to give in to their demands to keep them happy. However, this is a recipe for disaster later down the line. Splashing out on a smartphone should be done for the right reasons, so if your child only needs an emergency device that they can store in the bottom of their school bag, it may be wise to buy a non-smart device instead.
Simple mobile devices like bottom end Nokias can be bought for as little as £20! If you don’t believe your child is quite ready for a smartphone but you want to set them on the right path, purchasing a non-smart device or tablet first is key.
Look into Costs
When it comes to raising a child and giving them what they need to thrive, your finances may be stretched to their limits. As your child gets older and enters the ‘tween’ phase, it may be the perfect time to introduce them to their first smartphone. Understandably, each device will differ in terms of price, so it’s your job to assess your finances, create a budget, and ensure you pick a phone that is within your means.
All children want to fit in with their peers, so if your child’s classmates have top-of-the-range devices, that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. While your child may throw a tantrum at first, you shouldn’t give in to their demands. The last thing you should do is spend over your limits just to put a smile on your child’s face. Over time, they will learn the value of money, which will help them grow up to be respectable, well-rounded adults.
Assess Their Maturity
Every child is different in terms of how quickly they develop. While some children have a sense of responsibility from an early age, others may not be trusted with a smartphone just yet. If your child is fiercely independent, does as they’re told, and follows your orders to a T, they may be ready to own their first device.
If you have a partner, it’s recommended to have a chat with them to determine whether your child is mature enough to handle the responsibility. If you buy a state-of-the-art smartphone, unless your child fully understands what is expected of them, they could end up losing it, which could cost you a lot of money.
Consider a SIM Only Deal
Once you’ve decided that a smartphone for your child is the way forward, you may be put off by pay monthly deals. When you factor in that the device is for your child, it may be worth considering a SIM only deal. You can compare SIM only plans from Lebara. With SIM-Only deals, like these, you get the flexibility of pay-as-you-go plans without having to pay each month. The plan renews automatically until you cancel it, and you have the option to change it or add additional coverage as you require. Many SIM-Only providers don’t do credit checks, so you can quickly take one out without any fuss.
If you don’t put caps on your pay monthly deal, your child may not understand the concept of going over their allowance, meaning a nasty bill could end up in your letterbox at the end of the month. To give you clarity and reassurance, there are SIM only deals that you can alter as and when you need to.
Purchase a Protective Case
All parents understand how clumsy children can be. Unlike adults, kids aren’t as aware of their surroundings, so when it comes to playtime and having fun, children love nothing more than to run riot with their friends. If it’s the right time to give your kid a smartphone, the thought of the device flying out their hands and smashing into pieces may fill you with dread. Thankfully, there are products you can purchase that can reduce the risk of this happening, such as a protective case.
When searching for the right smartphone for your child, you must find a protective case that fits the model you’re considering. Whatever you decide on, the case must offer both body and screen protection. Screen protectors come in all different styles and colours, so involve your child in the selection process.
Before handing over the smartphone to your child, you must establish rules and discuss them first. Understandably, your child will be jumping for joy that they have their own personal device, but you need to enforce rules, so they aren’t spending all their free time glued to their screen. Whether it’s no playing games after bedtime, or only allowing them on the phone after they’ve completed their homework, you need to put your foot down and stand by your decision.
Too much screen time can be damaging for your child’s health and development. The blue light that emits from a smartphone can affect your child’s sleeping habits and make them restless. It’s best to choose a mobile that lets you set time limits, meaning your child can’t go against your word (no matter how hard they try!)
Investigate Parental Controls
Once your child starts using their first smartphone, it’s natural to have worries about what they’re accessing and who they’re talking to. Before handing the device over, you must set up parental controls that will keep you in charge and mean you can monitor their activity whenever you see fit. Unfortunately, you can never be too sure who is on the other end of the screen, so taking an active interest in what your child accesses is important.
There are several measures you can take to keep your child safe when using their smartphone device, such as by monitoring text and call history, blocking particular websites and apps, as well as teaching them the importance of staying safe while browsing the internet. Also, if your child is under 13, it is illegal for them to have a social media account, so if they kick up a fuss about wanting one, they must wait until their teens.
You may not realise it, but there are tons of benefits your kids can gain from having a mobile phone. Whether it’s increased social interaction with others, giving them responsibility, or becoming technological savvy, you shouldn’t let your worries or concerns come in the way of giving your child a smartphone.
To put your mind at ease and ensure you’ve made the right decision, the tips above will mean you and your child are on the same wavelength and they understand your rules and boundaries in terms of their phone usage.
About the Author
Zoe has written and researched articles for a wide variety of career websites, blogs and magazines, has a strong understanding of current business trends and a passion for entrepreneurism.