What Makes a Phone Safe for Kids?
It’s one of the toughest decisions you’ll make as a parent: When and what phone should you buy for your kids?
Yes, a phone is a great way to stay in touch and make sure your kids are safe. But if you get them a smartphone too early, will it get in the way of their growth and development? Will they be exposed to dangerous content or cyberbullying?
There’s no easy answer to the “when” part of the decision. But once you decide it’s time, there are safe phones for kids available.
If you’re new to the world of kids’ phones, what should you look for? Here are six features by which you should evaluate any kids phone:
1. Internet Access
The internet can be a great learning tool. But in-the-pocket access to the entire web simply isn’t safe for kids. For this reason, one of the main features you should look at when evaluating kids phones is internet access. An internet-enabled smartphone is not the right fit for kids or teens.
If you do want to get your kid a phone with internet access for learning purposes, be sure to set limits early on. Create a schedule that outlines when, where, and how often they’re able to use their phone. Work together to set “never ever” hours, a daily maximum, and a weekly maximum.
2. Social Media Apps
Another thing you should look at when getting your kid their first phone is access to social media. Any safe phone phone for kids should be free of social media apps.
Kids have the rest of their lives to be on social media. Creating accounts too early can have serious consequences.
Social media is full of misinformation, harmful content, and cyberbullying. According to a study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than a third of young people in 30 countries report being a victim of online bullying. One in five kids reported having skipped school due to cyberbullying.
Those are staggering statistics. Keeping kids off of social media is an important safeguard.
3. App Store Access
If your kid’s first phone doesn’t come with an app your kid wants, they will try to download it. This opens the door to trouble: They could download apps that add no value in terms of learning or safety. Worse, they might download something inappropriate.
Look for a phone that already has all apps that a kid would need. Also, make sure that they understand their first phone isn’t a toy. It’s intended for their safety, not for entertainment.
4. Parental Controls
Many safe phones for kids on the market today have parental control features. These will alert you if your child is trying to access illicit content. You can also view your kid’s online activity remotely.
While these features can provide you peace of mind as a parent, think hard about how much time you want to spend monitoring your kid. Not only does it add up, but it can communicate distrust to your kid. The better answer might be to find a kid’s phone without access to apps or the internet whatsoever.
5. Picture Messaging
Picture messaging is a Pandora’s box. While your child may truly only want to share vacation photos, child predators and pornography are out there. Getting your kid a phone that can send and receive photos is risky.
Kids are being targeted by porn culture. Therefore, it may be best that your kid’s first phone doesn’t have unlimited picture messaging capabilities.
Another attractive feature for your kid’s first phone is durability. You don’t want a device that is fragile. If your kid’s phone breaks, you can’t use it to contact them (and that’s probably the reason you wanted them to have a phone in the first place).
By choosing a nearly indestructible phone, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ll always be able to connect with your kid. Plus, you’ll save money by not needing to purchase a replacement device every six months.
What makes a phone durable? Experts recommend a tough exterior, water resistance, and a long battery life. Get a screen protector and phone case just in case.
7. GPS capabilities
It’s a fact of life: Kids lose things. For your kids first phone, look for a device with built-in GPS functionality. This feature enables you to see whether your kid lost their phone at school, at their friend’s house, or simply at the bottom of their backpack.
Ultimately, it’s up to you as a parent to decide what safety features your kid’s first phone needs. Use your best judgment, and keep lines of communication open with your kid. You’ll both be happier and safer because of it.