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Don’t Sell Your Phone–Give It To Your Kid!

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There are always new phones coming out with better features, faster processors, bigger screens, more apps and better sound. As a culture, we drop phones and buy new ones at an alarming rate, and while some carriers will give you money for yesterday’s phone, perhaps the better thing to do is pass it on to your kid. Here are some reasons why you should and considerations before you hand that phone over.

Why To Hand Down Your Smartphone

  1. Kids are destructive – Phones can be extremely expensive, and kids aren’t always the most careful, so giving them a used phone is pretty cost-effective. This way if the phone is lost, stolen, dropped in the toilet or any number of mishaps you aren’t out too much money.
  2. Safety – The first and most common reason that parents want to get their kids a phone is so that they can be contacted and can call for help if necessary. Depending on your child and situation this may or may not be a valid concern, but it can make you feel better either way.

Are Phones Safe for Kids?

Well, that’s the rub. Having a phone makes your child more accessible to you–and the rest of the world. Phones are powerful devices, and with them, you can explore the whole of the internet and contact anyone, not to mention many apps display geolocation and other personal  information. Phones are meant for adults at the end of the day. But, there are some steps you can take to make your phone safe for your kid and still allow them to use it when necessary.

  1. Kajeet – We’ve talked about Kajeet before, and if you have a Sprint phone (or wish to purchase one cheaply) then it is probably the best kid-safe mobile operator around. With Kajeet, you can monitor and restrict your child’s phone activity and see what they are doing with the device and who they contact without being intrusive. Kajeet only works with Sprint phones though, so be sure it’s compatible. Kajeet is a prepaid service, so you won’t have to worry about overages, which is another plus.
  2. AT&T Smart Controls – Much like Kajeet, AT&T smart controls allow you to monitor and control how your child uses their phone. However, unlike Kajeet, this requires you to have a phone on a contract, which means that you run the risk of your child running up a huge bill or busting an expensive on-contract phone.
  3. MyMobile Watchdog – If you don’t have a Sprint or AT&T phone, then you should consider this app, which can be downloaded to any phone. It monitors your child’s activities (including texts, websites, contacts, pictures, etc), restricts when the phone is used, blocks apps and even allows you to approve new contacts to your child’s phone. It does have a $5/month charge, but it would be well worth it to make sure your child is safe and using the phone responsibly.

Other Considerations

There are however, a few things that you’ll need to decide before giving your phone to your kid. The most obvious is whether or not they are old enough for a phone. This NY Times article has some great thoughts and tips for dealing with that question. There seems to be quite a bit of debate about the appropriate age to get a child their first phone, with most people agreeing kids younger than middle school don’t need one. At the end of the day, that depends on your situation and the maturity of the child.

Another main thing to consider is how the phone will be used. Is it mainly for contacting you and other parental figures? Do they just want it for games and social media? Are they frequently in places where they don’t have access to a phone and would need their own?

In the right circumstances, recycling your phone for your technology-hungry kid can be a great idea, as long as you as the parent make sure it is safe for them. At the end of the day, it’s all up to your style of parenting and your communication and trust in your child. It’s a technology-driven world and there are plenty of pros and cons to getting kids hooked in to technology at various ages. If you are intent on getting a phone for your kid, though, recycling is definitely something to consider!