The decision to give a child a cell phone is often a difficult one for parents. While parents appreciate being able to communicate with their children during the day, and want their kids to have some way of calling for help in case of an emergency, others are concerned about screen use, the cost of in-app purchases, online bullying, and making their child vulnerable to predators. Another concern is that kids can be careless, and phones are expensive to replace.
Fortunately, there are phones designed specifically for kids and teens. These phones are easy to use, sturdy and have features that allow parents to monitor and control phone use and online activity. In addition, there are some phone models that are not designed specifically for kids and teens, but are of a design that makes them an affordable, practical phone for younger people.
Parents often have three major concerns when it comes to providing cell phones to their kids:
Distractions: Parents worry that a phone will distract kids from homework, chores, and other responsibilities.
Bullying and exploitation: phones and social media apps have given rise to incidents of cyberbullying by schoolmates as well as strangers. In addition, preditors are known to try to connect with kids and teens online through social media and chat rooms.
Damage: Kids and teens may be more inclined than adults to lose valuable items such as phones. In addition, kids may often participate in rough and tumble activities that could lead to a phone being damaged.
Fortunately, there are strategies for addressing all of these concerns:
Purchasing standard (not "smart") phones: Before smartphones, there were standard cell phones. Phone features varied a bit, but the primary use of the phone was to make phone calls. Text capabilities are standard on non-smartphones these days, and there may even be a web interface and some features that allow additional levels of connectivity. Getting your child or teen a standard flip phone or cell phone without bells and whistles is one way to save money and to reduce the likelihood of a child being targeted on social media or distracted by constant notifications and opportunities for chat and gaming.
Parental controls and monitors: some phones and mobile plans include options for parental control and monitoring of device use. Depending on the service and the phone, you may be able to monitor chats, emails and texts, restrict access to apps and in-app purchases, and cut off access to network data if your child has been overusing social media or other features.
Phone protectors: Many companies now produce extremely durable phone protectors that can keep fragile and expensive smartphones safe even if your child is extremely active.
Alternative devices: If a phone is out of the question at this time, there are GPS tracker devices that children can wear and use. In some cases, these devices provide for two-way communication between your child and selected adults.
After taking into consideration your child's age, level of responsibility, his or her need for a phone and both safety and cost considerations, you'll be ready to select a phone for your child. Below is a list of some of the best phones for kids:
This Lively phone was actually created for seniors, but it can be a wonderfully practical and affordable phone for children and teens. Inexpensive and sturdy, this is a flip phone with large buttons which could be very helpful for children who have fine motor control issues.
This is another flip phone that is designed to minimize distractions. It is possible to text and call other people, and a browser has been integrated into the phone, but the screen is very small. This could be a good option if you are concerned about minimizing distractions while ensuring that your child has a way of getting in touch if he or she needs to.
If you've decided that your child is ready for a smartphone and you are an Apple household, consider the iPhone SE. Renowned for its excellent camera and video features, the phone is compact, water-resistant, sturdy and affordable. Just be aware that this is a fully functional smartphone, with full access to Internet, social media, and games. If your primary concern is cost and risk of damage, the iPhone SE can be a good option. However, if you are concerned about distractions or social issues, a full featured smart phone like this is probably not a good idea.
This is a small, sturdy phone that offers basic phone and texting service along with basic apps such as email, Google search, web browsing, and calendars. This phone is the size of a credit card , which could make it a good option for younger children and their small pockets. As with some of the other phones recommended here, it is important to note that this phone does come with a web browser, which would allow a child access to the Internet. If you are trying to restrict Internet access, this Palm device is not the phone for your child.
This is another basic flip phone that is compatible with many prepaid plans. This phone does have an integrated web browser, and provides access to calendars, email and even Google assistant. It is affordable and sturdy. If your concerns are up-front and replacement cost, this Alcatel device is an option to consider.
This phone is designed specifically for kids. The phone allows for talk and text, but does not offer any kind of Internet connectivity or games. In addition, parents who purchase a plan to go with this phone can choose between one that allows for group and image texts or plain text only. Parents who are concerned about distractions and the potential for cyber bullying or exploitation will likely find this to be one of their best options when it comes to protecting their kids. The phone does have GPS location services, which can offer additional peace of mind. The phone arrives pre-activated.
Let's make one thing clear, the Kyocera DuraXV is not an inexpensive flip phone. It is, however a military grade, extremely sturdy and reliable flip phone that does not include Internet access. This can be a great option if you want your child to have a phone that can be used for calls and texts only. Its sturdiness makes it a great option for active kids who are generally responsible enough to not lose a phone.
Telecommunications technology changes frequently, and new phone models are being introduced all the time. In addition, phone carriers have become increasingly aware of some of the dangers that children face online. As a result, they are routinely updating and upgrading monitoring options for parents. If you have questions regarding the right phone for your children, as well as whether a carrier is able to provide monitoring services, consider scheduling an appointment with a manager at a local carrier a retail shop so that you can outline your concerns and get personalized recommendations for phones and services that meet the needs of your family.
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