6 Tips on Buying Your Child a Phone for Christmas

With Christmas approaching, many parents and guardians may be considering buying their child their first phone like that Google Pixel 6.

To help navigate parents through the options and challenges, mobile phone retailer Fonehouse spoke to child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer, alongside their team of mobile experts to share six of their top tips for buying your child their first mobile phone this Christmas.

Decide If Your Child Is Ready For A Phone

Deciding when your child is ready to have a phone can be a tricky decision and the age can vary from child to child. Dr Gummer explains that the right time “depends on the circumstances of the child. Generally, allowing the use of phones for primary-age children allows them to keep up to date with their parents on any pick-up arrangements or changes of plans, so for a child who gets a lift to or from after-school clubs and needs to let parents know when to collect them, it could be useful.”

She also adds that “younger children with separated or divorced parents may also find it comforting to be able to contact the other parent. That said, mobiles, especially smartphones can be difficult to control so unless there is a good reason to, I’d recommend not letting children have smartphones until you’re happy to let them start to use social media.”

Think About How It Will Be Used

It’s important to take into consideration how your child will use their new phone, as Dr Gummer comments that “children may ask for a phone, only to fit in with their peers, without really thinking about how they will use it. They may only want it to play games and mess about without a grasp of its actual use. If this is the case, then consider giving them an older phone without a SIM or handing down a phone.”

Picking The Right Handset

It can be easy for children to get caught up in the latest tech trends and want to have the newest release, however, they aren’t the most cost-effective phones available. Dr Gummer advises that “your child may want the latest handset to have the same as their friends or be on trend, but my advice is to start them off with a handset which is less expensive rather than splashing out on the latest model.” An older model, second hand or a refurbished handset are great options for a first phone, with Dr Gummer adding that “children will love to ‘own’ their own phone and it gives them that feeling of independence.”

When choosing a phone, you may also want to consider screen time and select a device that monitors this so you can make sure your child is not spending too much time on their device and getting distracted from important things such as their schoolwork.

Choose A Contract That Suits Your Family’s Needs

It can be tricky to predict how a child will use their phone if they’ve never had one before, with some children likely to barely use them while others burn through data. The way children use their phones can also quickly change as they get older and change schools or take up new activities. Mobile experts at Fonehouse share that “for these reasons, don’t tie yourself into a contract that won’t be suitable long term or that won’t adapt to your child’s changing needs.”

They also add that “initially, you may find it beneficial to choose a SIM only plan which can often work out more cost-effective and can also be changed or cancelled. Review the different plans to ensure your chosen plan has enough data as well as unlimited calls and texts so they can get in touch with you in an emergency without worrying about running out of credit.”

Set Up Safety System Controls

Safety may be a big worry when it comes to getting your child their first phone. To help protect your child, you can set up their phone to keep track of their safety without prying into their lives or interfering in their friendships. Mobile experts at Fonehouse comment that “there is a range of parental controls that you can place on networks, your home Wi-Fi and on devices themselves. Android and iOS both have some built-in parental controls such as being able to block purchases as well as application usage and installation.” 

Regardless of the network you opt for and what built-in tools the phone has, having extra capabilities always helps. There are parental control apps that can be installed that allow for more control over how your child uses their phone and that can regulate and monitor online activity to help keep your child safe. Dr Gummer also suggests speaking to your child about safety within their phones, recommending to “always talk to your child about their use. Being open with them about their phone use is important to enable conversations about online safety.”

Protect The Phone

Children can be clumsy which makes them a lot more likely to drop their phones than adults. Because of this, be sure to also buy a tough case and a screen protector to be given alongside the handset to help avoid damage to the new present.

Brenda Kimble

Brenda Kimble is an entrepreneur and mother of 2 daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family.