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The best smartphones for kids: recommendations for all ages

smartphones for kids

Best smartphones for kids

If you’re in the camp of parents who are considering getting their kid their first smartphone, this post is for you. Some parents get smartphones for kids to encourage responsibility. Others just can’t handle the non-stop pestering for a smartphone. I mean, can you blame them?

Whatever your reason, we’ve got the rundown on some of our favorite smartphones for kids, tweens and teens. We’ll also talk about ways to raise a conscious user (preferably one that doesn’t rack up a crazy bill every month) and keep your family connected (in real life) in the midst of all this tech.

The gear

Let’s talk smartphones. We’ll walk you through a few of our top recommendations for first phones for kids of all ages.

smartphones for kids

Gear for kids 12 and under

For the not quite smartphone-ready, check out Tinitell. This wearable watch isn’t a smartphone but Tinitell helps you stay in touch with your child and gives you the tools to do it. Tinitell doesn’t have a screen and supports two-way mobile calling for up to 12 contacts that parents set. Tinitell also has a GPS tracker that integrates with an app you keep on your own smartphone. Tinitell is durable, made for playing and is splash resistant. Grab the Tinitell from their online shop for $149.

For a fuller phone experience, check out the ANS H450R. American Network Solutions offers a “Water Proof, Dust Proof, Shock Proof” phone, with bare necessity performance specs. This rugged phone is made to withstand life. Spilt milk? Check. Pool party? Check. Sandcastle competition? Check. With a touchscreen display, don’t be afraid to hand this one over and say, “Okay kid, do your worst.” Grab this one from the Ting Shop for just $65.

Smartphones for kids 12 to 14

The tween crowd will love the Moto G4 Play. This compact 5-inch HD screen gets you a longer battery life and fits in the palm of your hand. The 8 megapixel camera is worth noting, as well as the simple design and value. This is the budget end of Moto’s line but you wouldn’t know just looking at it. If your kid’s looking for something to do the basics, calling, texting, pictures and running a few apps, this is well worth looking at. The Moto G4 Plus is available in the Ting Shop for $139.

Samsung J3 Emerge is a great phone in the sub-$200 range. With decent specs, a bright and beautiful display, this phone looks and plays the part of a flashier smartphone. The J3 also comes with a larger battery and will last well through the school day and after-school activities. You can grab it in the Ting Shop for just under $165.

smartphones for kids

Smartphones for teens 14 to 18

The Moto G5 Plus is a great phone at a great price. It has all the bells and whistles like an awesome camera, fingerprint unlock, an aluminum body and turbocharging and the price is on-point. Check out our full post on why we like the Moto G5 Plus so much. The Moto G5 Plus is available in the Ting Shop for $299.

iPhone SE has the smallest display (4-inch) and the highest price tag on our little roundup. Keep in mind that this is Apple’s entry-level phone. If you have an older, responsible kid that uses a Mac for school, this might be a great option for them. You can grab it from Ting starting at $399.

The talk

Talk to your kid about the benefits and drawbacks of using tech and about always being connected. A phone enables all manner of communications and should be treated respectfully.

Most of all, a smartphone means being responsible for the device and for what you do with it. Teach your kid the permanence of the Internet in whatever way is most meaningful to you. When we post something online and later decide to delete it, it’s never really gone. Just because they can’t see someone on the other side of their screen doesn’t mean someone isn’t there.

smartphones for kids

Go with something modest

We all misplace things from time to time and kids are no exception (even sometimes, the rule), so maybe you don’t break the bank on their first smartphone. If there’s a chance they’re going to lose or break a phone it might as well be budget-friendly. If they earn your trust and are mindful of their responsibility, then they can get an upgrade down the road.

Check out our post on why buying last year’s model can actually be the wiser choice.

Curb use and set limits

If you’re worried about your kid blowing up your next bill, don’t fret. You can set limit alerts on your Ting account so there are no surprises.

This can be a more complex discussion (depending on the age of your kid) and setting preventative measures in your Ting Dashboard will give you some peace of mind. Limiting data, minutes and messages can help your kid learn along the way.

Check out our free Cut Your Data ebook for our best tips and tricks on curbing data. It’s never too early to start teching kids about responsible phone ownership. Check out some of our easy tips for data saving for students.

Set an example

Have no phone zones at home. Create a phone stack at dinnertime. Watch your own usage. It’s no secret that kids learn by example. If you have your nose stuck to your screen, chances are your kid will too. There’s a lot of good you can do with a phone, but it’s wise to be honest about and cognizant of the bad too.

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