Is your child begging you for a cell phone? Is your teenager is telling you it’s time for an upgrade?
Whether you have a youngster, tween, or teen, chances are you’ve gotten the phone-talk before. Letting your child have a mobile device can be daunting—how do you know if they’re using it correctly? Who are they calling? Are they running up the phone bill?
Thankfully, several phones have features that answer all of these questions—and more! So whether you’re looking for a kid-friendly phone or a device for you teenager, there’s something out there for you.
While giving your child a cell phone may seem a bit overzealous, a mobile device can be a great way to keep in touch if your son or daughter has afterschool activities, sports games in another county, or is starting to venture off (gulp) alone.
For kids and tweens, it may be best to start with phones that are practical instead of a device with tons of high-tech features and gizmos. Here are some features to look for in a kid-friendly phone:
Your child may want that hot new smartphone, but if the phone is bigger than their hands, it won’t do them much good! Keep their small hands and fingers in mind when picking out a phone. Make sure the device is easy to hold.
If you’re going to spend money on a phone, you certainly want it to last. Choose a device that can stand being dropped, tossed into a backpack, and dropped again. Touchscreen phones might not be the best choice for first-time phone users, as the screens can be easily cracked or shattered.
Several phones offer parental control features that allow you to monitor and control your child’s phone usage. Set your child’s contacts, limit the number of minutes they use and texts they send, and even keep their web browsing under control.
Worried about your child when they travel with their sports team? Want to be sure your tween is safe on their first trip to the movies without you? Make sure you get them a phone with GPS tracking. Some phones even alert you when your child gets to their destination—talk about peace of mind!
An Emergency Button
Many phones that are designed for children have an emergency button that either calls 911 or alerts their emergency contacts (AKA Mom and Dad) if something is wrong. Look for a device that sends a text and calls your device (or emergency services) with the press of a button.
If there’s any age group that’s become synonymous with cell phone use, it’s teenagers. In fact, according to Pew Research, 78% of teens have a cell phone.
And while your teenager might say everyone has a smartphone (not so, only 37% own one), these are not the only devices out there for teens. A smartphone can be a great choice, but parents should focus on the necessary qualities of the phone—not just the fun ones!
While some of these features are similar to those on children’s phone, you’ll find that many have different benefits for teens. Here are some qualities to look for:
Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to find a device with password protection. This feature is extremely useful for teens that might have personal data stored on their phone (think photos, social media profiles, and text messages). Keeping their phone locked with a password ensures that you and your teen are the only ones with access to the device.
While GPS tracking is great for younger children, it can also come in handy for teens that might lose track of their phone. Be sure to use this power wisely—it can be easy to track your teen’s whereabouts at all times, but if you’re working on establishing a trusting relationship, this feature should only be used as needed.
Giving your teen unfettered access to the Internet may make you cringe. We know it makes us nervous! Thankfully, lots of phones have parental controls that allow you to monitor or control web browsing. So while you may not need to restrict their actual usage (for teenagers, ground rules should do the trick!), you can rest easy knowing your teenager is safe on the web.
This feature is definitely one your teenager will appreciate. As you know, teens are master texters. If you’re hesitant to get a touchscreen phone for you son or daughter, consider getting a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. Not only will it make texting easier, but it can also help them make the switch to a touchscreen phone (many of which have QWERTY keyboards) when the time comes.
What’s the one thing you need to be absolutely sure you have, regardless of your child’s age? A manageable phone plan! If you’re worried about your kids running up the phone bill, perhaps a no-contract phone the best choice. With a no-contract phone, you only pay for you the minutes, texts, and data your child actually uses. You’ll know exactly how much your bill costs each month, and your child will know exactly how much phone usage they get. With prepaid phones, everyone wins!
If you have further questions about the best cell phone features for kids and teens, or need help choosing the perfect plan, please don’t hesitate to contact us.