Getting a child a mobile phone is something a lot of parents are apprehensive about. This is perfectly normal, since it would give them access to the world and all the dangers that come with it. On the other hand, it can also provide an additional layer of security and a way to be reached at any given time. You also have to realise that you won’t be able to stop them from getting a phone forever.
However, you do have to take precautions and take your time when choosing a unit for your child, and the plan for that matter. Here’s what you should do if your child is begging you for a phone.
See if They Are Responsible Enough
The first thing you have to do is see how responsible they are in their lives in general.
If they can’t take care of the dog or aren’t disciplined enough to go to bed when it’s time every night, you shouldn’t reward them with a phone. Make them earn it and show you that they can handle all the responsibilities of owning a phone, because there are many. They will need to be able to control how much time they spend on it and be careful with how they use it in public.
This is why you need to know if they’re ready for one before you even start looking at options.
Restrict Sensitive Content
One of the main concerns for parents is that their children will use their phones to access inappropriate content. There’s also a chance that they come across it accidentally. Know, however, that there are many ways in which you can monitor their activity and block their access.
The first thing you should do is contact the carrier and ask them to turn adult content filters on. This will prevent access to sites with sensitive content, but only when they’re using the mobile network. This means that you will have to adjust the settings with your home broadband carrier as well. There are plenty of parental control apps that you can use, so you should do your research on these as well.
Look at SIM Only Deals
There is also the concern that they will end up racking up huge mobile phone bills. Children can spend an insane amount of data, and if you want to be able to prevent nasty surprises, we strongly suggest that you go with a supplier that offers SIM only deals.
If you’re looking for cheap SIM only deals, you should take a look at what Lebara has to offer. There are a range of cheap options you can choose from and they put a hard cap on all of their plans. This means that there is no way that they will go over and you’ll never be stuck in an agreement with them. This way, you won’t be as stressed but you’ll also be able to teach your kids to monitor their consumption.
Make Sure that there’s a Solid PIN
Using a good identification system will be essential when giving your child a phone. They are much more likely to lose their phone, and theirs could contain a lot of sensitive information. You should use an ID method that doesn’t require too much memorisation. Patterns are usually good, but a phone with a fingerprint of biometric recognition is even better.
Do Not Get them the Latest and Greatest
You should let them know right off the bat that you’re not going to give them the latest iPhone. They will get whatever you give them, and if they’re not happy, then ask if they are ready to at least pay some of the costs. Buying an expensive phone for a child is a bad idea for many reasons.
This would make them targets for thieves, or even envious classmates. You also don’t want to send the message that brands are everything.
Instead, you should go phone shopping with them and look at many options. Research many models and look for models that would be closer in looks and performance to what they wanted. Then let them try a few models themselves. They’ll soon forget the iPhone when they see all the cool phones that are on the market.
Do Buy a Great Recent Phone
You should be careful about buying an old phone for them to save a few bucks. This could come with issues, many of them involving security. For one, you have to know if the phone is still getting updates. Updates might seem like a formality, but they’re very important.
They may be rolled to fix certain bugs but, usually, they contain security patches as well. This is when a vulnerability has been spotted and corrected. When you have a phone that is not updated, this means that anyone can take advantage of these vulnerabilities and hack into a phone.
Old phones will also not have all the same security features. More recent phones will have a feature that will require the user to verify their identity through their Google account before resetting the phone to factory settings. This isn’t there on older phones. This would mean that someone who finds and steals the phone may be able to access personal information by resetting the screen lock password.
Finding a phone that can’t be used will also give people more incentive to return it.
Control Screen Time
Screen time will also have to be monitored and curtailed as it can easily get out of hand and start affecting other areas of their life.
Apple phones have a screen time feature that allows you to set certain times when different apps can be used, what music appears in the Apple store, as well as giving you the ability to block certain people from calling them. Google also has a similar feature on their phones. You can use the Google Family Link app and do most of the same things, so give it a look.
These are all things you have to do before giving a phone to a child or teenager. Whatever you do, make sure that they’re ready for it and find the perfect model for them.