There comes a time when your baby boy or girl tosses his or her toys aside and demands access to adult stuff. You may still have a few years to think about what car you are going to buy them, but there are a number of devices even a very young child can use, for instance phones. However, if you want to avoid disappointment, tears, arguments or bigger trouble, there are a few things to consider before buying a first cell phone for your child.
Phones come with lots of benefits, not only for adults but also for children. However, you shouldn’t make the decision on the spur of the moment.
Is your child mature enough to have a phone?
There’s no easy answer to this question, since there are no age limits which determine when a child is ready to have his first phone. Even if there were, they would be completely useless because every child is different and a five-year-old can sometimes be more responsible than a ten-year-old. You are the parent, you know your child best, so observe and answer the following questions:
- Is you child good at keeping track of his things? If you child is constantly loosing his toys, cloches, keys, etc, you may want to wait a bit longer before buying a phone, or it might go MIA before you know it.
- Is your child good at following rules? Obviously, your child won’t be able to use the phone the way he wants – you will set the rules. If your child often disregards rules and limits, it’s probably not a good time to buy him a phone just yet, as you will most likely keep fighting over the device.
- Does your child take good care of his belongings? If you child is rough with his toys or tends to take then apart just to see how they work, it might be a good idea to hold off buying a phone, since chances are it might not last even a week.
If your answer was “yes” to all these questions, it probably means that your child is responsible enough to have his own phone.
How to choose a first phone?
Now that you are certain that your child is ready for his first phone, it’s time to pick a model that will fit your financial capabilities and your child’s needs and preferences. If you want just to keep in touch with your child, then a basic phone will do the job. If, however, you decide to go for a smart option, then there are a few aspects to think about:
- Operating system. iOS devices come in very few versions not to mention that they tend to be expensive and you probably don’t want to spend tons of money on a device that may get lost or broken within weeks if not days of purchase. Windows Phone handsets can be very cheap, but the platform might be too overwhelming, especially for a young child. Entry-level Android phones, on the other hand, are inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes, designs and colors. Moreover, the operating system is simple and intuitive and often has easy mode.
- Screen size. Phablets may be all the rage now but it’s definitely not the best choice for a child as such huge device might feel awkward and be too difficult to operate with small hands. Don’t go for the smallest screen either, since untrained fingers might have a hard time hitting the right buttons.
- Battery. Your child is probably going to play with the phone as much as you allow, so a good battery is one of the priorities. If your budget can handle a bigger expense, you might want to consider a device with fast or even wireless charging to limit the times your child will be putting his fingers near a socket.
- Memory. Get your child a phone with as much internal memory as you can pay for. The operating system takes up a generous chunk of space, so if you buy a device with little memory, there will be basically no room left for apps and the purchase will end up in disappointment and irritation.
- Accessories. Even if your child treats his belongings well, you might want to dress the phone in a protective case. You might also want to consider buying over-the-ear headphones, a spare battery, car charger, etc.
It goes without saying that phones are one of the most useful inventions a human mind could think of, but when used inappropriately, they can be pretty dangerous especially for very young users. To avoid any problems, set clear rules regarding how long, how often and for what purpose the device can be used, so that it wouldn’t turn into a distraction from homework or chores. Make sure the child obeys your rules and don’t give in even if he’s making puppy eyes at you.
No matter how much you trust your child, it might be a good idea to install parental control app on the phone so that you can check what the young owner is doing. To help your child follow the rules, set a good example. For instance, if you ask your child not to play with a phone at the table or while talking to another person, don’t do it yourself. If you do, your child will feel like you are treating him unfair and… he will be right. Good luck with your shopping.