Every parent struggles with this decision: is my kid ready for a phone?
Things like age, responsibility, children’s well being, bullying, safety are closely taken into consideration when thinking about the right time to get your teen or tween his very first cell phone – aka his first tech crush.
Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that supports digital well-being for kids, suggests parents think about their child’s maturity level rather than age when making this decision.
Think about the following questions:
- Do your kids show a sense of responsibility?
- Can they adhere to the rules you set?
- Do your kids tend to lose things, such as glasses, backpacks or homework folders? If so, expect they might lose an (expensive!) phone, too.
Once you’re satisfied with the answers to these questions, the time could be right for your kids.
The other factor that weighs in is related to the need for a phone
The key question here is: Do your kids need to be in touch for safety reasons?
The answer might be yes if the child is constantly on the move, being involved in a lot of extra activities, outside school, like sports and needs to stay in touch with parents, letting them know about his whereabouts.
The classic “everybody has one except for me” bit won’t cut it for most parents. If you’re confused about whether or not you’ve made the right decision for your children, trust us, you’re not alone. Debating over your kids’ first phone is a universal struggle.
🤳 iPhone Handydown: passing your old iPhone to your kid
Once your kid’s age & maturity levels are in check, you’re pleased with your pledge to keep him away from bullying & feeling left out and understand the need for social connection that youngsters have, then you’re down to yet another specific parental endeavor: budgeting.
Our advice is to never get a new device as your child’s first smartphone. If you need to make a purchase, go for a prepaid phone that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract. The best trick to keep the spending in place is to pass an old phone down to your kids, if possible. If you have an old iPhone laying around, the little ones will be thrilled! There’s really no reason to let a good device go to waste.
Manufacturers even caught on to this trend of passing off old phones to younger generations and the comfort that comes along with it, and thus have begun adding features to make their adult-oriented products more kid-friendly. Apple’s new iOS 12 parental controls include a Screen Time feature, which allows parents to set time limits for specific apps and track how much time kids are spending on their phones.
👪 Before passing your old iPhone to your kid, make sure to make it as child-friendly as it can be
First of all: erase everything – find this option in Settings, under General. Tap the Reset at the bottom, then Erase All Content & Settings.
You can set up child Apple ID, load it with games and parental controls, buckle it up with a solid case for it, set up FaceTime on it, so that you and the grandparents can stay in touch more easily with the new iPhone owner.
Another smart move is to Turn OFF “In-App purchases”.
📲 What is the best phone plan for your kid?
If you didn’t want to break the bank for a new phone, why go overboard with the phone plan? Since budget is the bottom line for most parents, the best way to save money is to connect your kid to a low cost wireless provider, like Tello Mobile.
If your kid is under 10, you can opt for a talk & text only cell phone plan, that allows him to send texts whenever needed and to stay in touch with you or other caregivers. At Tello, you can set him up for a 300 mins + unlimited text for $6/mo.
In order for your teen not to feel left out of the “water-cooler conversations” that in high school happen on social media, you might think of adding some gigs of data. At Tello Mobile, you can mix data with the amount of minutes used and pay for what you need, and nothing else. Here are some of our best phone plans for teens:
- 2GB + 500 mins + unlimited text for $13/mo
- 4GB + unlimited talk & text for $19/mo
- 6GB + 300 mins + unlimited text for $22/mo
- Unlimited everything – recommended for older kids only, for $39/mo
Unlike most carriers, Tello Mobile has the possibility to create a family plan and add your childrens’ cell phone lines there, with no extra cost per line. Free hotspot included in every plan. Upgrade, downgrade anytime and no shared balance, meaning no family feuds over who ate up all the data. More about our family plans, here.
Remember that good digital habits are seen, not taught, so be mindful of that in this new chapter you & your child are embarking on. It’s such an exciting moment to learn, bond and grow your trust in each other, as well as to teach them about responsibility and savings. Enjoy!