First Phones for Kids: What Parents Need to Know

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-08-11 Print this article Print

In all cases, before proceeding, make sure to be clear about overage charges. Prepaid services will just stop working, but other plans may tack on considerable fees. 

Practical Advice for Parents

"One thing I've learned is that kids lose things quite a bit," said Strategy Analytics' Hyers. "The location-based apps are a great way to track a lost phone. My older daughter recently lost a [Samsung Galaxy] Note II that I really regret giving her."

Another good rule of thumb, he added, is go small. A phablet, or device with a 5-inch display, is not going to fare well in a backpack with books and a soccer ball.

"Buying a protective case is big. Phones get broken," said Hyers.

Kay suggested saying all the seemingly obvious things that to kids aren't always obvious.

"With our kids, we pretty much spelled out the dangers—people posing as people they're not, people trying to get information, illicit activities. Tell them about everything. They'll roll their eyes, but that's fine. Once in a while, reiterate it all," he advised.

"Parents are amazingly blind about their own kids. They don't realize their kids can be [jerks]. And some of them really are—some kids are going to push the envelope and go looking for what's bad. ... You have to look squarely at all this."

Hyers likewise advised taking nothing for granted.

"When you hand kids something new and neat, they're going to use them in ways you wouldn't think, and ways that are probably not terribly intelligent," he offered kindly.

Lessons he said he's learned along the way were to make his girls plug in their chargers in the kitchen each night, so they weren't texting and watching videos in bed, and the importance of explaining how streaming video works. The latter lesson came after discovering on his phone bill that they were streaming videos on the bus each day, to and from school.

"I'm trying to think about it all in the same way I'm going to think about buying [the teenager] a car in the future," said Hyers. "It's a real learning process for me, but it's training for what's to come."


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