Summer is the ideal time to buy the first smartphone for a child – they’ll have plenty of time to learn to use it before school starts and it’s easy for parents to see how they’re managing with it. Buying a used phone is also a highly viable option.
Does a child need a smartphone?
There are many answers to this question. There are good and bad sides to a child’s smartphone use, but these days there are notable benefits of a child having one, both for the parents and child. Parents may be worried about their children having access to inappropriate content or using the phone excessively, but these problems are easy to overcome thanks to modern technology. In this article, we will discuss issues that should be taken into consideration when buying a smartphone for a child, and ways of making children’s smartphone use safer.
A child’s phone sees and experiences all kinds of adventures: it may occasionally lay on the grass, be covered in sand or even take a swim in a puddle. Although you can protect the phone with a protective case, it’s worth buying a smartphone that is durable and safe. It doesn’t have to be the finest or newest model with the best features, instead, a good phone for basic use is enough.
At least by the time when the child starts to travel independently, smartphones become a very important tool for communication. You don’t have to worry about the child’s comings and goings and trips to school when you can monitor their location through a smartphone app.
A good first smartphone
So what should you take into consideration when choosing the first smartphone for a child? In our opinion, the most important things are the phone’s size, price, quality, durability and safety.
As children have small hands, small phones are easier for them to use. The phone shouldn’t be too large, so that it’s easy for a child to handle and use. Of course, a smartphone with a big screen looks good, but it’s not necessarily practical for a child. Children can easily leave an oversized phone at home or in their bag, which makes it difficult to reach them. When the phone is pocket-sized, it’ll easily fit in the child’s hand or pocket and they’ll be more likely to keep it on them, making them easier to reach. You should pay particular attention to the width of the display.
A child’s first smartphone doesn’t have to be the most expensive model on the market. Since the phone may easily be damaged in use, it will save you both money and a headache to not buy the most expensive phone for a child. The price should be such that buying a replacement phone won’t hurt much – a cheap basic smartphone is often good enough. A child’s first smartphone is typically average-priced, that is, between a hundred and three hundred euros. Cheaper phones often contain nearly the same features as expensive flagship models and are completely suitable for children’s needs.
A durable and high-quality smartphone for a child
The phone will see and experience all sorts of things. Children don’t always remember to treat their belongings with care, and this applies equally to their phone. The phone can easily break: it might be in their pocket when they’re wrestling with friends or rolling in snow.
Fortunately, the phone can be protected in various ways. You should definitely buy a tempered glass screen protector, which will prevent scratches and cracks in the screen. Phone cases also protect the child’s phone. They are available in many different styles: the wallet case is a good choice for a child, because it offers the best protection for the screen. Bus cards and library cards can also easily be transported in them.
Phone cases let the child customise their phone as they like. Online stores are full of various cases, from which the child can choose their favourite one – and the cheaper ones are usually good enough for children. There are also waterproof cases available. If the phone has a waterproof case, it’s not such a big deal if it starts to rain while it’s left lying on the grass.
You shouldn’t underestimate children as phone users, however. Many children take better care of their belongings and smartphones than adults. Accidents happen to everyone, but when the phone is durable and well-protected, it will usually survive all sorts of bumps and knocks.
A safe smartphone
Naturally, phone use has its own risks. Anyone can be in contact with the child through the internet or they may encounter content inappropriate for their age. The child might not understand what kind of pictures should be uploaded to social media or what kind of conversations they should have in their class’ WhatsApp group.
The easiest way to childproof a child’s smartphone use is to agree shared family rules. It’s a good idea to set limits for phone use, i.e., how much it can be used per day and for what purpose. It’s important to teach the child good online habits and explain what kind of photos and posts are appropriate for uploading on social media. Age limits are worth knowing and adhering to – there’s a reason why Facebook and Instagram have an age limit of 13 years.
The phone also presents a risk in traffic. You should definitely remind the child to keep the phone in their bag and their eyes on traffic on their trips to school.
It’s also important to prevent the misuse of the phone in case it’s accidentally lost or forgotten somewhere. It’s a good solution for the child to use a smartphone fingerprint sensor. The advantage of it compared to a passcode or unlock pattern is that people can’t peep over their shoulder and copy the code. In addition to this, installing a location tracker app on the phone is a smart move in case it gets lost.
4 things to consider:
- Price – the first smartphone doesn’t have to be the newest and most expensive model.
- Size – the phone should fit in the child’s hand or pocket.
- Durability – protect the phone with a screen protector and case.
- Safety – agree ground rules for phone use with the child.
An iPhone for the first phone?
An iPhone is a good choice for a child’s first smartphone. The older models in particular are very well-suited for children’s use. They are pocket-sized and fit easily in the child’s hand or pocket. The price of older models isn’t sky-high either. iPhones are durable phones and there are huge amounts of accessories and cases available for them. The operating system is simple and won’t take long for the child to learn how to use it.
An iPhone is an especially good choice for a child if the rest of the family also uses Apple phones and devices. It’s easy for the child to learn to use an operating system that the rest of the family uses as well, and using it is safe because parents can easily keep track of what their child is doing on their phone.
Apple’s Family Sharing makes everyday family life and monitoring the children’s phone usage very easy. For example, the family can share photo albums, reminders and their locations. One adult from the family has to be chosen who will define the family sharing settings.
Family sharing enables close monitoring of the child’s phone use. All new app downloads and purchases made on the phone have to be approved by the parents and the parent can track the child’s location through the phone.
A used smartphone for a child?
A used smartphone is not a bad idea at all for a child’s first smartphone. The price is cheaper than a new one, of course, and the phone’s functions and condition are totally suited for a child. Nowadays, it’s easy to buy used smartphones online. Swappie sells refurbished and fully functional used iPhones, which can be ordered easily online or collected from their store. All the devices have a 12-month guarantee.