When it comes time to buy your child his or her first smartphone, there are several considerations and decisions to make. Questions may include ‘will your kids use their smartphones responsibly?’ And, ‘What if they text during school or after bedtime?’ If you are planning to purchase a mobile device for your child, consider these Smartphone Tips for Parents from AT&T.
First, determine exactly how your child plans to use the new cell phone. Parents can alleviate confusion and potential disappointment by finding out this key information before buying a phone. Second, parents may want to prioritize the features of a wireless device that will be most important to their child, so they can narrow down the choices and make a wise purchase decision. Third, parents should consider three Basic guidelines for safety and security:
1. Check privacy settings on social media, but emphasize there is no privacy. The more private, the less likely inappropriate material will be received by your child, or sent to their circle of acquaintances. Make sure your child understands that everything sent over the Internet or a cellphone is public and can be shared with the entire world, so it is important that they use good judgment.
2. Set rules for texting. One option is to allow texting at specific times – no texting at school, no texting until homework is done, and no texting after a certain time at night. And, of course, no texting and driving.
3. AT&T has Smart Limits which allows parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers, set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of day. Similar services exist from other wireless carriers. Contact your provider for details.
Wireless carrier stores carry a wide variety of choices. For example, AT&T stores stock nearly 70 wireless phones. There’s a device that’s just right for everyone; you just need to know what features will be most useful. Consider ranking the child’s mobile wish list using these criteria:
• Text messaging
• Send/receive e-mail
• Social media
• Take and share photos
• Listen to streaming music and mp3 files of music they already own
• Watching TV (U-tube or streaming video)
• Browsing Web
• Video chat
Bring the list of priorities along when shopping for a wireless phone. Your carrier’s store salesperson can then offer several devices in a variety of price ranges that will meet those needs. Some children may be mostly interested in talking on the phone and sending text messages. A quick messaging device could be an affordable solution for these functions.
If a child enjoys video games and streaming video, a smartphone with larger display screens may be a better choice. It’s also helpful to know how a child will use the phone when selecting the right voice and data plan. Streaming audio and video use more data than email and social media posts, so the mobile data plan you select should match how the phone will be used to avoid any surprises later.
After selecting a wireless phone, mobile protection insurance should also be on the shopping list. Anyone can drop a phone, no matter their age. Another key decision a parent should make is whether to choose a wireless device that requires a contract or not. The latter may be a good option for a parent trying to teach a child financial responsibility—the parent may purchase the device and make the child pay the monthly cost of voice, data and texting.