If you’re wondering what to do to prepare your child for responsible phone ownership, you’ve come to the right place. A kid’s first phone can be an awesome tool for safety, staying in touch and teaching responsibility. There are a few things parents can do, however, to set ground rules before turning that device over to a child.
- It’s important to factory reset the phone if it’s a hand-me-down.
- Add any important emergency numbers.
- Enable parental controls.
- Set mobile data limits.
- Have an open conversation about Internet safety and privacy.
Start your kid off on a mobile provider like Ting, where you can set limits on how much talk, text and data they use every month.
1. Factory reset the phone if it’s a hand-me-down
According to the Ting kids and cellphones survey, 61% of parents gave their kids a hand-me-down phone instead of a new one.
If you’re in the majority of parents and are opting to give your kid a gently used phone that previously belonged to another family member, you’ll want to do a factory reset on the phone. This will remove all the existing data from the phone, including pictures, emails, etc.
What does it mean to factory reset a phone?
Returning the phone to its factory settings means that your child will get a blank phone, with any pre-loaded apps that come with the OS.
Restoring the phone to its factory settings won’t undo any wear and tear on the actual hardware. For instance, if you found the quality of your battery reduced over the phone’s life, a factory reset won’t restore the battery to its original state.
2. Add important and emergency numbers
Phones help parents and kids stay in touch and coordinate pick up and drop off at school and activities. Phones can also give parents peace of mind as an emergency contact point for kids.
After you’ve reset your hand-me-down phone, or once you’ve removed your kid’s new phone from the box, be sure to enter any and all important phone numbers you want your child to have. Many parents get their child a phone as an emergency phone for that child.
3. Enable parental controls
Next up, take a deep dive into parental controls. What permissions you set will likely depend on your child’s age, level of responsibility and independence. We like to think of parental controls as training wheels for raising responsible older kids. Parental controls come off eventually and they can help prepare your child for the realities of being online on their own.
iOS has an easy to navigate parental control system. All you have to do is visit Apple’s parental control page and choose what kind of controls you’d like to set. You have the ability to limit Safari access, set content and privacy restrictions, prevent iTunes and App Store purchases and more.
For Android parental controls, we like Google family link, a service that lets parents set digital rules for how their kids use their devices. Parents can view activity, set limits on screen time, lock devices, approve app choices and even suggest teacher-recommended apps to kids.
4. Connect the home Wi-Fi and set mobile data limits
The last thing you want when you get your kid a phone is the shock of a big mobile data bill. Always make sure to have a conversation with your child about responsible usage and make sure they understand that Internet use doesn’t cost anything when they’re on Wi-Fi. Get your child’s phone connected to the home Wi-Fi and go with a service provider that lets you set mobile data limits in your account.
Check our complete guide to lowering mobile data usage for more tips and tricks you can share with your kids.
5. Discuss privacy and personal safety with kids
According to our kids and cellphones survey 96% of parents have had a conversation with their kids about phone safety. It’s never too early to talk to kids about staying safe online. Internet safety for parents and Internet safety for kids all starts with a simple conversation.
Not sure where to start? Check out our full guide to Internet safety for kids and parental controls.
Kids and cellphones
Getting your kid a phone can feel like a complicated and stressful moment in your life, but with our tips to get started, you’ll be well on your way to preparing your child for responsible phone ownership. We recommend setting up a few parental controls if your child is younger to help establish some ground rules.
See what other parents have to say about kids and cell phones.