ARTICLE

How To Choose The Best Mobile Phones For Kids

December 16, 2020 - 7 mins read

As kids get older, they start to become more independent and spend less time at home. As a parent, you might be thinking it’s time to get them their own mobile phone (and maybe they’ve been asking for one, too). Phones and wearables – like smartphones and fitness trackers – have become a lot more affordable in recent years and it’s not uncommon for primary school kids to own one. So if you’re on the hunt for a good phone for kids, let’s explore what you should look out for and a few great products that you and your child might love.

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How will a phone benefit your child?

Before we dive into the different types of mobile phones, it’s important that you and your child both understand what the phone will be used for. Aside from the obvious benefits like keeping in touch and emergencies, your child can also use a mobile phone for:

  • Research (schoolwork and homework)
  • Socialising (with friends and extending family)
  • Taking videos and photos, and
  • Playing games or online learning.

One thing to think about is whether or not your child is ready for the responsibility. While there are no hard and fast rules around what age kids should get a phone, there are some questions to ask, such as:

  • Is your child mature enough?
  • Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
  • Does your child understand what the phone can be used for?
  • Does your child demonstrate respect to friends and family?
  • Can your child talk to you about what’s worrying them?

It’s a good idea to talk this through with your child to make sure they understand the risks and rewards of having a mobile phone. When everyone is clear on why a mobile phone is needed, then you can start researching what kid-safe mobile phones are on offer.

“It’s a good idea to talk this through with your child to make sure they understand the risks and rewards of having a mobile phone.”

Durability

As careful as they can be, your kid’s phone can still get wet, be dropped or lost. Pick a phone that’s going to be durable and not too much hassle to replace if something breaks. You might also like to invest in a solid phone case and install an app like Find My Phone so you can track it down if it gets misplaced.

Usability

A child under 10 years old may need a mobile phone that’s simpler to use than a teenager in their last year of high school. Choose a mobile phone that’s appropriate for your child and one that they can master easily. Take into consideration how big the buttons need to be, what size screen they’ll require and the kinds of apps they might use (if getting a smartphone).

Safety

This is a really important part of giving your child a mobile phone: to help keep them safe and in contact you when they need to. However, if the phone has internet access, you might like to install parental control software to make sure they’re not seeing anything they shouldn’t. You could also make a deal with your child that periodically you’ll check their phone to make sure it’s safe. Keep an eye out for malware or signs of cyberbullying, but also respect your child’s privacy and ask permission to read texts and see photos.

Child’s age

Your child’s mobile phone needs to be appropriate for their age. If this is their first phone, perhaps you could start with a cheaper prepaid phone with no internet access until they get the hang of the device. As they get older and their lives get more complex, a smartphone might be a better alternative, as they start to need their phone for more activities, like taking photos, researching for school and chatting to their friends.

Affordability

Price is often one of the biggest concerns for most parents: while you might invest hundreds of dollars in a new phone for yourself, it may not be feasible to do the same for your child. There are a lot of low-cost options or post-pay plans to check out that won’t cost you the earth, so it pays to do a little research beforehand and discuss it with your child (especially if they’re going to foot some of the bill).

Best phones for kids under 10 years

For youngsters starting to learn their way around mobile phone tech, there are a couple great entry level options, like easy to use unlocked phones and the ever popular Spacetalk watch phone.

Spacetalk watch phone

These all-in-one 3G mobiles phones with GPS tracking are a simple, distraction-free option designed for kids. The Spacetalk Kids Watch with Phone and GPS (Grey) has numerous benefits, including:

  • School Mode: You can activate this function via an app on your phone to silence the watch so they won’t get disrupted during class hours.
  • Fitness tracker: Your child can make sure they get those steps in with the built-in fitness tracker.
  • Reminders: Set specific reminders for your child to pack that school project or alert them when it’s time to start their homework.

Unlocked phones

One of the main benefits of an unlocked phone is that you’re not tied to one SIM card or phone carrier. So you can keep the same phone number and reuse the phone if you ever upgrade. This is handy for multiple children, especially if you have ‘hand me down’ phones.

A great option here is the Opel Mobile BigButton X 4G. Its 4G capacity offers fast internet access and its big buttons make dialing numbers that little bit easier. Alternatively, check out the Nokia 2720 Flip 4G Black. It also has 4G and an extra 32GB of expandable storage, perfect for videos and images which can be captured using its back camera.

Best phones for teens and tweens

When your child hits their tweens or teenage years, there are a lot more options when it comes to finding the right phone. The two main smartphone operating systems to explore here are from Apple and Android.

iPhone

The benefits of an iPhone are varied but it also depends on what your child will use their smartphone for. You can find so many different apps to help your child succeed at school via the Apple App store, plus the iPhone has built-in safety features to ease your mind while your child scrolls online.

Apple’s suite of devices have prepaid options, like the Apple iPhone 6S 32G Space Grey - Prepaid, or newer models, like the Apple iPhone 7 32GB - Silver, which have better quality cameras and faster internal processors for speedy connections.

Android

For a straightforward smartphone with minimal distractions, take a look at either the Alcatel ALCATEL U3 VOLCANO BLACK or the Opel Mobile EasySmart 2. Both of these Android phones have all the standard features of a smartphone, like a touchscreen and good quality camera, but are simple enough for tween or teenager to use, especially if this is their first smartphone.

Is prepaid or a plan best?

There are pros and cons for both options and it comes down to decisions around your budget and what kind of phone you have. Prepaid phones are great because your child can’t exceed the monthly limits and there’s no lock-in contract. On the other hand, plans are beneficial because you can often buy the phone as part of the plan and the plan will renew monthly for the length of the term (typically one to two years).

Does the school have restrictions on smartphones?

One final point to mention is that your child’s school might have particular restrictions on the use of smartphones at school. Every school is different but they all will have a student use policy you can read to make sure you’re adhering to the rules. If you’re unsure, chat to your school’s head office for clarity and advice.

Need help finding the right mobile phone for your child?

Our friendly experts are ready to help you and your child find the right mobile phone, and we’d love to see you at your local Good Guys store. You can also shop online with convenient contactless delivery available when you’re ready to buy.

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