As they get older, most children will probably ask for their own mobile or smartphone, and you'll want to be able to stay in touch with them when they start secondary school or spend more time away from home.
Smartphones offer children the ability to be connected to the internet wherever they are, so you need to carefully consider if and when they're ready to go mobile and what you're happy for them to be able to do online.
Things to consider:
- As you're likely to be the bill payer for your children, it's important to know that data for internet browsing often has limits and can cost extra if exceeded. Pay-as-you-go is a pre-pay system and therefore ideal for children. Monthly contracts cost a regular amount but could incur further charges for going over allowances.
- Where you do include data in the contract of your child's phone it's important to understand that this will be outside any monitoring or restrictions you set up as part of your home Wifi internet access. Fortunately, most phone networks provide controls to limit the data children can access and avoid seeing adult content. Also, there are some specific networks like ID Mobile that provide content restrictions specifically to protect children from viewing inappropriate content online via a related app.
- Finally, as the costs of smartphones increase you should consider the implications of them being damaged or stolen. A protective phone case is essential for youngsters, and insurance can be a good idea in case the phone is misplaced.
Getting your children's devices set up safe is another key part of buying your child's first phone! This will help you make sure that they get the best out of their device. Here's a checklist to set your children's device up before you give it to them so you know they're safe online as soon as they start playing:
- Get your child to complete the PhoneSmart course where they can learn how to behave and what to avoid online. This will reassure both you and your child that they are ready for their first smartphone
- Set parental controls on your broadband to prevent your children seeing things they shouldn't. Also check parental controls are set up on the mobile network of the smartphone
- Use the device setting so you can only download age-appropriate apps and games
- Set up password control or disable in-app purchasing so big bills are not run up accidentally and inappropriate apps are not able to be downloaded
- Disable location services so your child doesn't unintentionally share their location with others
- Download age-appropriate apps you're happy for your child to use
- Be aware of key issues and how to discuss them with your children so they know how to stay safe online
- If your child is using social networking apps check their profile and privacy settings, making sure they are not sharing personal or private information with people they do not know
Our primary concern is getting you up to speed with what's available and helping you decide what's a good purchase with your child in mind. We focus on giving you the right information to keep them safe online when they're using different devices.
Although we can provide you with the tools and peace of mind for your child to be online, ultimately it is up to YOU to decide whether your child is ready for their first smartphone!
We know there's a lot of information out there and it can be difficult to sift through. If you would like to find out more insider tips to choose child-friendly tech, including recommended smartphones, tablets and other gadgets and their key e-safety considerations, click the link below:
Guide to buying kids tech
Insider tips to choose child-friendly tech