In an era where 53% of American children own a smartphone by the age of 11, as reported in a 2019 nationwide survey by Common Sense Media, the demand for smartphones among children has seen a significant surge. This percentage escalates to a staggering 84% once children enter their teens. The prevalent demand has left many parents questioning the appropriate age for their child’s first phone and seeking advice from experts. The question we often hear is “Which phones are safest for kids?” This has led experts to weigh in, providing valuable insights to parents in this digital age.
“The technology that kids have access to today is both a blessing and a curse for parents.,” says Titania Jordan, chief parenting officer of parental-control app Bark. While it’s amazing that you can track down your kid in real-time and have a conversation with them, it’s also terrifying that others can do the same.
There are a few things you can do to ensure you’re buying a kid-safe phone when the time comes. Here are some things to think about before you buy a phone and a list of the safest phones for kids.
Things to Think About Before Purchasing a Cell Phone:
Thankfully, there are a variety of kid-friendly phone solutions available today that can help parents alleviate some of their worries. First, you should establish which aspects are essential and which ones aren’t for your children. Jordan recommends that before making a purchase, parents ask themselves the following questions:
- Is internet connectivity for kids something you’d like to see in your home?
- Do you think their gadget must be able to track where they go?
- Is app access important to you as a parent?
- Do you wish to restrict the people and times when your child can communicate?
- Do you worry about letting screen time get out of hand?
- Is it essential that your child have access to email and text messaging, or would a basic phone do?
- Do you want your kid to have access to things like cameras, TV, and music?
- Is it important for you to keep an eye on your child’s online activity?
When you know what you want out of a phone regarding features, you can begin narrowing down your options. Your child’s age and anticipated phone use might also help you zero in on the most appropriate and secure phone for them.
The Top Cell Phones for Kids:
Common Sense Media advises parents shopping for a phone for a child under 13 to prioritize safety features like:
- Easy to use settings.
- Large push-buttons.
- Features are severely lacking.
- Few interactions.
- No games.
- There is no internet connection.
- There is no camera present.
T-Mobile SyncUP KIDS Watch
In this subset of mobile devices, you’ll typically find watches-shaped phones like T-Mobile’s SyncUP KIDS Watch. This device can notify parents when their children go outside of a specified area, and it also provides GPS tracking, text and voice messaging with permitted contacts, the “Help” and “911” button, and more.
Verizon Gizmo Watch 2
Jordan notes that another alternative for parents is the Verizon Gizmo Watch 2, which is strapped to the child’s wrist and features a list of parent-approved contacts so the youngster is less likely to give it away. To top it all off, it can withstand water. This device features a GPS tracker and can be used for two-way audio calls and messaging with up to ten preset contacts (although users have complained that the GPS is a little sluggish, as Jordan points out).
The Gizmo has also been given psychological clearance. “When kids do get smartphones, I’ve noticed that it causes more family fights and less face-to-face socializing. It can also hurt their grades and sleep,” says psychiatrist and psychologist Sarah Berger, Ph.D., of Chevy Chase, Maryland. The Gizmo gives children more freedom by allowing them to communicate with a small group of friends via text and providing them with a GPS system without really handing over a phone.
The Top Picks for Emergency Telephones:
In contrast to regular phones, emergency phones are only used in times of dire need.
Jordan recommends the Android-powered Palm Phone for families with young children because of its compact size (about that of a credit card). Some of a phone’s features are:
- Gorilla Glass is used, which is known for being durable despite its little thickness and weight.
- Monitors where you are.
- Simple settings for parents to implement.
The Palm is a more convenient phone that is also less likely to divert its user’s attention, making it ideal for younger people.
Alcatel Go Flip
According to VPNMash’s creator and CEO, Tim Uittenbroek, the Alcatel Go Flip is another option worth considering. These are some of the phone’s features:
- Simple utility apps.
- Big and clear keys.
- 2MP camera.
Ting, a mobile virtual network operator with a monthly line price of $6, can be used by your child for emergency purposes, school pick-up and drop-off, and after-school activities.
Best Budget-Friendly Phone
According to Jordan, Gabb Wireless, another option that looks like a smartphone and has that “cool factor,” is less expensive than other cell phones (about $150). Take into account that, for better or worse, there is no web browser or app support.
Commonly requested but currently, unavailable capabilities in parental monitoring solutions include location tracking, music apps, and text message monitoring.
The Top 10 Flip Phones
Flip phones, contrary to popular belief, are still available today. They are simple and have few options, making them ideal for children.
The Mobile Consumer’s Doro
In his article, Jordan writes, “Consumer Cellular Doro is the preferred flip phone among our parenting community with no browser—which is hard to find, as most flips actually have a browser.” The problem with this strategy is that it makes it impossible to monitor their digital activity or track their whereabouts with GPS.
Prepaid phones from Tracfone are another viable choice in this space. “These are sold for $19.99 everywhere from supermarkets to drug stores,” Jordan boasts. However, in the end, most parents choose to dumb down their smartphones.
The Top Smartphones for Children:
Smartphones are more intricate (and therefore more desirable to young people). They typically include things like cameras, apps, and internet connectivity. However, safeguards such as parental controls and app tracking of screen usage can help reduce this risk.
As far as Jordan is concerned, an Android is the finest all-around choice for a kid’s first smartphone. The most reliable option is them, she argues. They’re compatible with other apps, so you can expand your YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram surveillance with no disruption. Androids give a better user experience and more extensive coverage for parents when it comes to helping to keep their child safe online, despite the fact that iPhones are more widely used.
Bark recommends the Samsung Galaxy series for its huge screens and powerful batteries. Samsung’s Kids Mode and Google’s Family Link are two of the kid-friendly digital ecosystems that work with the Galaxy.
Another option is a smartphone from Google’s Pixel line, which is suitable for older children as a first mobile device. Thanks to its regularly updated software, the phone will continue to be useful throughout high school. Phone users have access to both Family Link and Google’s Digital Wellbeing tools for managing their screen time responsibly.
However, Jordan explains that the most recent versions of iOS allow you to restrict your child’s calls to contacts or emergency lists only, so you can go with an iPhone if that’s what you choose. In addition, the Find My iPhone function allows you to monitor your kid’s whereabouts.
GetVoIP CEO and founder Reuben Yonatan thinks the iPhone’s security features are great for parents. “If you like, you can restrict it to the bare minimum,” Yonatan says. Your children can be followed with ease. The fact that iMessage can be used without a data plan makes it an excellent app. In addition, many of them have a respectable hard drive capacity for music, making it an excellent distraction.
Choose a pre-owned model if cost-cutting is a priority. They become practically indestructible when partnered with a good case, which is especially important when dealing with children.
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