Thinking about purchasing your kid’s first phone? Then you have a lot to consider, and this list will help you get started.
Purchasing a phone for kids involves a whole separate set of concerns and considerations. As parents, you’re probably already concerned about what your child is about to encounter online, about screentime addiction, cyberbullying and a multitude of other digital menaces. However, finding the right device is a big part of helping any child develop healthy phone habits from day 1.
When you start shopping for that kid’s first phone, the following five items should be on your mind.
Things to think about when searching for the best first phone for a child
Protection: first and foremost – safety. The best phone for a child is also a phone you can easily protect. There’s a lot to say about the best ways to protect a kid’s phone, and tips for keeping your child safe once the phone is in his or her tiny hands, but the bottom line – whatever method you choose, you need to make sure you can make it work with your child’s next phone. For example, if you have your mind set on one specific parental control app, make sure it’s compatible with the phone your planing to purchase.
Price: While you might always treat yourself to cutting-edge, top-of-the-line, gadgets, your child will probably settle for a bit less. A 2-3-year-old smartphone model, at a significant discount, will be perfect as a first phone and will answer all of the child’s needs. The top apps most children use are Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat or Roblox. For these apps, any old phone will suffice. Another option to consider – a hand-me-down of a sibling’s or even your own phone.
Size: Make sure the phone fits in your child’s palm. Oversized phones will more often slip out of a sweaty grip or fall out of a small jacket’s pocket. An ergonomically unsuitable phone will be more than inconvenient to use, it might actually cause phone hand pains (And while you probably want to disincentivize too much screen time, pain is probably not the route you want to take).
If this phone is a surprise gift and the child won’t be able to test-drive the phone themselves, we recommend going for smaller models, which were designed for smaller hands.
What the child wants: You don’t want a disappointed face on Christmas morning. If your child is begging for a smartphone like the rest of his or her classmates, a flip phone won’t be well received. For some parents, it might be tempting to flex parental authority and buy the phone they think the child needs rather than wants, but this path is probably bad for the parents as well as the child. Your goal is to encourage a healthy relationship with technology in general and phones in particular, and buying a first phone the child will accept only reluctantly might launch this relationship on the wrong foot. Understand what your child wants, and find a comfortable middle ground between the latest generation iPhone and a 2006 Nokia.
Have you found the best phone for kids yet?
Obviously, still have a few more things to consider (iOS or Android? For children, probably an Android), durability (You don’t want to revisit this post again in six months) and several other factors, but by considering the five points above, you should already have a pretty narrow list of devices which are suitable as a phone for kids.
Regardless of the phone you eventually decide to purchase, you would want that phone to be protected, and you’ll want to understand the ways your child is using that phone. With their first phone, children are entering a terra incognita of digital trends, memes, games, social networks and other online quirks. You’ll want to be there with your son or daughter as they’re taking their first steps in their new virtual world. The best way to achieve that, apart from being an involved parent (which, if you’re reading these words, you probably are), is with a parenting app like Jiminy.
Jiminy lets parents know about the apps their kids are using, and for how long. Jiminy tells parents about new contacts and favorite messaging partners. It warns parents about things like sexting or adult website, so parents can step in and guide their children at the right time. Jiminy helps children develop healthy online habits, by showing parents how the child is truly using their first phone.