How to choose the best phone for kids
Your guide to buying the best phone for children
04 Sep 2019
Are you thinking of buying a new smartphone for one of your children? There are lots of great handsets out there, but which ones are best suited for a young owner? You’ll find all the info you need to making the right choice of mobile phone for children, along with some handy tips on parental controls.
What age should a child get their first phone?
No two kids are the same, and there’s no magic number. But according to a recent study, the average age that a child gets their first phone is just over 10 years old.
But it’s entirely up to you whether you think your child is ready for their first phone. If lots of their friends have smartphones, you might think it’s fine for your child to get one. Or you may wish to wait longer. Microsoft founder Bill Gates wouldn't let any of his children have phones until they were 14 years old.
What is the best mobile phone for a child?
SIM free phones are a popular option for parents. Buy the phone upfront without a SIM card and you can then choose a SIM only deal that’s right for your child.
There's no need to break the bank, either. There are plenty of good value models out there that have features that were on flagship phones a couple of years ago.
So, what exactly should you be looking for in a kids phone? Here are some features we think it’s worth paying particular attention to…
Display technology has come on leaps and bounds in a short space of time. Nowadays, a good budget phone will have an HD display with a 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). That’s sharp enough for watching everything from YouTube videos to playing the latest games.
Kids love taking photos with phones, and the MP (megapixel count) will give you a good idea of the phone camera’s quality. Anything over 5MP should be capable of taking snaps that are full of detail.
Flagship phones are usually sleek and slimline and made of glass and metal. Less expensive phones, on the other hand, tend to be made from plastic and can be quite bulky. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re getting it for your child. A tough plastic shell with extra width offers greater protection from all those knocks and scrapes.
4. Battery life
If your child will be using their phone to keep in touch with you when they’re out and about, they’ll need to stay powered up all day long. The good news is that most budget phones have great battery life - quite often better than on a flagship phone. This is because budget phones usually have lower resolution displays and less-powerful processor, so the battery doesn’t have to work as hard. As a rough guide, a battery size of 2,000mAh should be big enough to last through the day.
Best parental control apps
One serious concern for parents is that their kids may be exposed to inappropriate content on the internet, or that they'll be in contact with someone they're not supposed to.
Luckily, there are some great parental control apps out there for keeping an eye on your little one’s online habits, and even their whereabouts. Here are two of the best:
Kidslox is the perfect way to manage your kids’ phone time. You can set daily screen time limits, block all third-party apps individually or by category, create daily schedules and set periods of lockdown. Worried your tech-savvy kid will find a way to alter the restrictions? Don’t be - it’s all PIN protected.
Qustodio can filter web content, monitor and block calls, and has a ‘child location’ feature with a 30-day location history. It even includes a panic button, so your child can contact you in an emergency with just one click.