Is your KID Smartphone Ready?
- By Guy Glover
- 21 Sep, 2016
Spring is here and soon summer will be upon us. With this comes more school holidays and children wanting their freedom to roam.
Are your children ready for a smartphone?
As a parent myself, I have two very active boys. Elder one is about to advance to high school and the other is only a few years behind. Do I get one for both or do I make the younger one wait?
I think this decision comes down to individual parenting styles, especially your kids are in the millennial social groups.
Independence and being with their friends plays a very important stage to them however, my wife and I want to know where they are.
Whichever way I go, giving your kid a smartphone could prove to be an awesome lesson in responsibility and maturity. There are all these cool new apps that will help them stay on top of homework.
It goes without saying – if you decide to get your kid a smartphone – you’ll want to know what type of limits you can set on usage and get a phone that’s suited to their needs.
For the record, my eldest has a hand down iPhone 5. The decision for me to use an iPhone was not based in brand loyalty but the innate content monitoring, restrictions and limitations. I didn’t have to download any additional apps and any app request has to get authorised by myself or my wife.
Here are some useful steps to consider when going down this path...
MOBILE PHONE OPERATING SYSTEM
Different smartphones have unique platforms and operating systems, so choosing the right one will depend on what’s needed best for your child and your family.
Pro tip – It pays to stay with the platform which the rest of the family uses, for compatibility sake. Sharing calendars, music, apps, as well as having parental control options are made much easier if everyone is on the same page.
Not to mention, having the same messaging apps helps you understand exactly how your child is texting with you and with others!
Memo to self – any Vodafone prepaid or Vodafone locked mobile device works on the KISSMobile network. A lot of Vodafone prepaid devices are discounted to stay on the network.
MOBILE PHONE PRICE/WARRANTY
You might think that your 11 year-old does not need a $500 phone (and for good reason, can you find both of your shoes first?). However, it might make good sense to buy a new phone as it will come with a warranty. And let’s face it that your kid’s phone is more likely to be lost, broken, or stolen.
It just comes with the territory, as kids work their way towards being more responsible and mature, you might even consider purchasing the phone using a credit card that has a good purchase protection plan. It could double the manufacturer’s warranty or replace the device if it’s lost or stolen.
Every phone needs some protection, and a phone for kids, even more so! Some of the built-in features to look for are protection from scratches, drops, and interactions with water.
Your kid might lose his phone or forget to answer when you’re trying to track them down. To work against this worrisome pitfall, look for a phone with GPS tracking technology.
If you have an Android then we suggest to get these app: Android Device Tracking Manager, which can help you pinpoint the exact location of your kid’s phone – wherever in the world it might be; or if you have an iPhone, you can use the Find My Friends built-in app.
With both apps you can set location boundaries, meaning when they leave an area you will get notified, often called as geo-fence feature.
As a parent, it’s a good idea to stay on top of what your kids can access – particularly with the ease and purpose of smartphones.
Some built-in features to consider are controls that let you manage access to the Internet, limit phone numbers, prevent unauthorised app downloads, or set a time monitoring usage, such as iPhone built-in restrictions.
In addition, there are several third-party apps that provide extra protection, like Kids Place Parental Control and Screentime for Android.
Kids are still learning how to be adults and part of that process is not always remembering to charge their phones. After a long day at school, you don’t want to deal with trying to track down your kid as a result of a dead phone.
Look for a phone with long-lasting battery power. For extra security, consider getting him/her a small and affordable portable battery pack so to have as backup when needed.
CALLING AND DATA PLAN
This is what I have witnessed, my kids and friends of my kids using our services consume more data than any other services. This is even when there are free yet unlimited calls between each other.
We have also insisted that the network of my kid’s friends use a data measuring app to self-manage and to truly understand how much they are using.
A lot of my kids’ friends including himself use our $9.95 plan
which includes 1GB of data and cheap national calls for 15c/min and 6c/SMS + plus free and unlimited calls to each other.
Here’s where it pays to do your homework. Compare contracts with no-contract phones plans. Compare prices for limited usage versus unlimited texting and calling. After all, definitely don’t underestimate the opportunities kids have to use whopping amounts data before you realize it!
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