Buying a mobile phone for your child
As a parent, you know the question will eventually be asked. ‘When can I get my own mobile phone?’
No matter what your thoughts on children and mobile phones, this question will become a reality sooner or later. Now at Envisage Phones, we believe that a mobile phone can be an excellent addition to your child’s tech gadgets. Not only is it an incredible safety device but it can help them with their studies as well.
So if you are going to buy a mobile phone for your child, what should you be looking out for? In this article, we highlight a number of things we believe are very important when it comes to buying your child their first phone. Let’s take a closer look.
The first decision you need to make is what type of phone to get your child. There are two types available.
- Feature phones
These are able to make calls, send texts and some can even use messaging software such as WhatsApp and the like. Depending on the model you choose, they might even be able to access the internet. Typically, these cost around £5 – £50 depending on the features they come with. We believe these are the best option for small children, from around 8 to 12 years old.
When it comes to smartphones, there is a massive range available. Most people think Apple and Samsung when the word smartphone is used, but luckily, you won’t have to buy an expensive handset such as these if you want to buy a smartphone for your child. In the past number of years, many budget smartphones have made their way onto the market and these are perfect for teenagers from 13 to 18 years old. Not only will they give them all the apps and features that they would need, these phones have excellent connectivity and fast internet capabilities which will definitely aid learning.
Is internet access important?
Well, this is a question that we get quizzed on very often by parents. In truth, it is pretty difficult to find a mobile phone that does not have internet access, unless it is the cheapest of the cheap.
In our opinion, internet access on a mobile is a double edged sword. Firstly, it is a necessity as it can come in very useful, especially for teenagers doing research for their school work. Secondly, it can become a major liability as it opens access to a range of apps, chat rooms, social media etc.
Here, as a parent, it is up to you to not only police the internet access on your child’s phone but to encourage openness in its usage. Ultimately, you have to make the choice and this is where your relationship with your child will make a huge difference.
Having said that, if you trust them enough and they are open to you checking their phone and having them as a contact on social media sites to monitor them then it should not be a problem. Note, there is software that can be downloaded onto your child’s phone that allows you to keep a check on them. In fact, there are a range of apps that you can use including My Mobile Watchdog. Now your child might protest but remember who is paying for their contract.
Which phone contract should I get for my child?
Finally, you need to decide which phone contract would suit your child best. There are many options including Pay As You Go, a monthly contract or SIM only.
Let’s just say that a monthly contract should be the furthest from your mind. We have had too many parents contact us moaning about the fact that their children have run up a massive bill in the first month of their contract. This usually happens when the free call minutes are used up and all the data is used. Once this happens, many contracts will still allow data and calls to be used but at the premium rate. Don’t make the same mistake!
Perhaps a SIM only contract is an option to consider. This means that you will need a phone to give your child. This could be a ‘hand-me-down’ or a cheap phone that you buy separately. Then for a certain fee, your child will be allowed minutes, texts and a small amount of data based on how much you are prepared to spend each month. If they use this up, you can then buy more data or calls for them, but ultimately, you remain in control.
For the easiest choice, consider Pay As You Go. Here you can buy a certain amount which can be loaded onto the phone and then allocated as your child sees fit amongst calls, texts or data. This gives them the control they need to be able to decide how they need their phone to work at a certain point. For example, they may decide on more data in a certain month due to the fact that they need to research a project for school. Once the amount is used up, the phone can only receive calls or text but not make them. Of course you can add more money to the phone as you see fit.
Deciding on whether your child should have a mobile phone or not is certainly no easy task, and there are benefits and disadvantages.