This is a collaborative post
Has your tween or teen been coming to you asking for their own mobile phone as of late? Do the majority of their friends now have mobile phones, and your child says they are feeling left out? The fact is that more and more tweens and teens are starting to own their own mobile devices, and the average age is dropping lower and lower each year. In fact, a UK-study carried out just last year shows that the majority of seven year olds now own phones – which may come as a shock to many parents out there, especially those who are wondering if a smart phone for their tween or teen is a good idea.
So, knowing that it has become the norm for tweens and teens to own their own mobile phone, it makes sense that you want to be involved in the process and make sure they not only get the ideal device, but also understand the safety tips to owning their own phone. Let this act as your guide to shopping for and owning a mobile phone for tweens and teens.
Discuss the Importance of Safe and Responsible Use
The first thing parents will want to address is safe use of the mobile phone. This should be discussed before kids even have the phone in their hands. There are some ground rules that should be laid out, and agreed to in advance. Ground rules can include:
- Not using their phone past bedtime. It may even be best if they leave their phone in a room other than their bedroom once they go to sleep.
- Discuss caring for the phone, which means not being careless and dropping it, throwing it, losing it, and so forth. Accidents happen but, at the same time, they need to learn to be careful and responsible with the device.
- Discuss if you will be using parental controls on the device – some phones have this feature.
- You may want to set the rule that there are no devices allowed at the table while eating; instead, the family needs to be engaging with each other.
- Discuss what sites are not appropriate to visit online; this could be where parental controls are necessary for younger tweens.
- Discuss good pictures and bad pictures to send to people. Remind them that anything sent to another person is no longer in their control.
- Moving forward, talk to them about the calls they get and place, who they are chatting with, the texts they send and receive, and so forth. You can keep the conversation light as it isn’t meant to be an inquisition; rather it’s about keeping the lines of communication open with your child and ensuring they are using their device in an appropriate manner.
- Explain why it’s important to never share their location to the public or their phone number, not to respond to calls and texts if they don’t recognise the number.
- Also discuss things like what spam is, why they shouldn’t download items without asking you first, and what to do if they receive an explicit photo.
These can be pretty heavy topics to cover, but the fact is that you can’t play it too safe nowadays and your child’s safety is always the top of your priority list.
Look for SIM Only Deals
Another tip has to do with the plan you choose for your teen. You want to be given flexibility to cancel or change the plan at any point, and that is what SIM only deals tend to offer. Lebara is an excellent option for parents who want a plan that features this kind of flexibility for their teen, as the 30-day rolling plans can be cancelled or changed whenever you like. Not only that, but you won’t be faced with any surprises on the bill as Lebara features an out of bundle capped to zero.
The great thing about Lebara is that, with them, the data can be used for tethering, there is no credit check is needed, and they use the highly-reliable Vodafone network. All of these features are perfect for teens, especially those who are getting a mobile device for the very first time.
Standout Features to Look for in the Device
When it comes to the actual features you want to look for in the phone, there are a number that stand out and that will probably be priorities for your tween or teen. These will include such things as:
The size and weight of the phone: It needs to be easy enough for them to put in a pocket or a backpack. Likely those oversized screens aren’t going to be the right model for your tween or teen – that’s just more phone than they need.
The battery life: This will also be very important, just like it is for you. Obviously, it’s more convenient to have a long-lasting battery, but there is also that safety factor. Part of the reason to get your child a phone is to give them a way to contact you or emergency responders if needed, so you’ll want that peace of mind knowing that their battery is dependable. You may even want to purchase a portable battery charger that they can also carry with them.
Durability: This should also be a concern because, let’s face it, tweens and teens aren’t always the most mindful and careful people out there. You want a phone that can live up to life – such as the occasional dropping, scratches, water, and so forth. Typically, a phone alone won’t give enough protection, which is why you’ll also want to invest in a heavy-duty case that keeps it safe and secure.
Another feature that kids will likely ask about is the camera. Today, pretty much every phone out there has a front and rear facing camera, but the quality obviously differs between models.
Storage space will also be another deciding feature, and this actually plays a huge role in pricing. The more storage the phone has, the higher the price tends to be. So, it comes down to how your child will be using their phone, what apps they will have, how much they will store, and what their needs are.
While most kids tend to chat with friends via text messaging, there is still that need and want to place voice calls. For that reason, you want to be sure the sound quality is good. This can differ pretty drastically, again with the cheaper models tending to offer the lower sound quality.
As for whether or not you should get a smartphone, at this point in the game, with people so reliant on digital devices, a smartphone really seems to be the best option, especially for those 14 and older. Although it means there are more issues to worry about when it comes to your teen’s safety and giving them the window to the internet and social networks, that’s why it’s so important to have those conversations with them in advance and on a regular basis moving forward.
By following these tips and advice, you’ll be able to make an informed purchase decision and find the perfect smartphone for your tween or teen that you both feel comfortable about.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post