What’s the best type of phone for school-aged children?

The debate as to whether your child should be taking a phone to school has infiltrated both personal and political conversation in recent years. From mothers to ministers, everyone has something to say about this current dilemma. However, it is important to note that the debate does not simply end with the verdict of allowing your child to have a phone of their own, nor does it end with the decision that they should be taking this phone to school. Instead, a further question emerges; what kind of phone should they have?

Buying a phone for your child can be daunting, especially with such a variety of makes and models being available. According to research, almost half of children aged from 5 – 15 years old own a mobile device, demonstrating the seeming normalisation of mobile ownership by schoolchildren. With this figure in mind, it’s more pressing than ever to discuss what phone is most appropriate for your child to have.

This process can first be managed by examining the reasoning behind your decision and whether it differs depending on their age. Would you want your 4-year-old to have the same phone as your 11-year-old? If not, why?

What phone should you buy a primary school aged child?

While children at secondary school may require a phone with more advanced features, younger children generally have less independence. Most children aged from 4 – 11 years old will be supervised for almost every hour of the day whether this is at school, on collection from school or at home. So, in this respect, you may not need them to have a more advanced smartphone. Instead, it might be beneficial to choose a feature phone that operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. This will allow your child to contact you in case of an emergency but restricts their ability to run up an unimaginable bill.

Another detail to be mindful of is that this particular age group tends to prove a forgetful one. Whether it’s their uniform, their book bag or their shoes there is almost always something that has been misplaced and so the value of the phone is also something worth considering. You may not want to spend an extortionate amount on something that might only make a fleeting appearance in your child’s life. So, rather than buying them the latest, all-singing, all-dancing iPhone, an older device might be more appropriate.

What phone should you buy a secondary school aged child?

The transition from primary school to secondary school can be a tricky one. Children are expected to adapt to a new environment, interact with unfamiliar people as well as learn new subjects. What’s more, often children demand further independence. This is most commonly recognised through the commute to school.

For many parents, secondary school prompts them to gift their child with increased responsibility and commonly this arises in the form of letting them make their own way to and from school. Although this may be a minor way of them asserting their independence, it can undoubtedly be a cause for concern for any parent. If their bus breaks down, or their bike’s chain falls off, or they get lost – you’ll want to know about it. So, the phone that you get them needs to be a helpful asset in these situations. The obvious need in this instance is the phone’s capability to contact you, however, you may want more than just that.

Following this line of argument, it could also be helpful to have access to a tracking app, such as Apple’s ‘Find My’. This would allow you to find the location of your child’s device at the click of a button, which can be especially handy if they don’t know it themselves.  This would require your child to have a smartphone rather than a feature phone and it may, therefore, be easier to run on a pay monthly contract which will give your child a set allowance of minutes, texts and data.

Whether buying your child a smartphone or an old Nokia, it’s crucial to teach them how to be responsible with their new found freedom. It is important that they know the impact of their digital persona and understand that they are just as liable for their actions as they would be in their verbal interactions. They should also be aware of how to safeguard themselves when using their phone.

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