As your child gets older, he’ll probably ask for a smartphone for his birthday or as a Christmas present.
For children, as well as for adults, there are certain risks associated with using these devices that cannot be avoided if you do not have controls.
If you are looking to buy your child’s first smartphone and are wondering which apps to choose for kids, this guide will show you all the parental controls you need on mobile devices.
Challenges of buying a smartphone for your child
Smartphones are fun and portable, but they come with a number of risks. Left to their own devices, kids can surf the Internet for hours, watch YouTube videos and play games, among other things.
Apart from potential exposure to adult content and other inappropriate sites, children are more likely to break or even lose their smartphones.
That’s why you need to take steps to control your child’s Internet access, decide what calls and text messages can be sent, and limit the time spent on social media apps.
Follow the instructions to find out which mobile parental controls can help you mitigate these risks, keep your child safe and give him peace of mind when your child is using their smartphone.
What should you put on your child’s smartphone
Before handing your smartphone over to your child, it is important to understand how he will use it and what benefits it will bring to your family. The main goal is to stay in touch with you when they are away from home or when you are not at home and you want to know how they are doing.
However, smartphones have more benefits like taking photos and videos, finding homework, supporting friends on social media, playing games, or accessing their favorite programs.
Discuss these things with your child so that they understand the benefits and dangers of using a smartphone. You can also agree with your child about how they will responsibly use the phone in terms of interactions and the type of content consumed.
One of the best ways to create this kind of conversation is to sign a family agreement with your child so that he knows his limits when it comes to using a smartphone.
Once this is done, follow the steps below to set up the correct Mobile Parental Controls on your child’s smartphone before giving it to him or her.
1. Set up the phone and put the passcode
Whether you choose an Android smartphone or an iPhone, you need to set it up before giving it to your child. For Android phones, create a Google account that only you (the parent) know the password for and enable 2FA by linking it to your smartphone, not your child.
You can still create a Google account for your child using Family Link, although this is only available to users in the US. This Google account will help you when you need to sync contacts, photos and other data, or when you want to use the Google Play Store.
You don’t need to turn on a Gmail account on your smartphone if your child won’t be using email, so you can go to Settings> Google Account Settings and uncheck the Sync Gmail box.
If you want to create a Google family account, you also need an Android device. This account comes in handy when family members want to share paid purchases across devices, or if you’ve allowed your child to pay for purchases from their phone using your payment details.
To create a Google family account, go to Google Play and go to Settings> Account.
Tap Family, then tap Manage Family Members if you’ve already set that up. If not, sign up to create a family account.
From here, you can invite your family members by entering their Gmail addresses. After he accepts the request from his phone, you can go to your child’s profile and select “Paid Content Only”, “All Content”, “In-App Purchases Only” or “No Approval Required.”
Anything that requires approval before installation or purchase will require you to enter a password on your own device or on your child’s phone.
For the iPhone, you start by creating an Apple ID for your child, rather than letting them use yours. In addition, your child will be able to use it in the future as they get older and will be able to operate the phone without your help. This is required during installation and to allow downloads from the App Store or iTunes Store. It is also used for Find My iPhone, FaceTime, iMessage, and more.
Then use the child’s Apple ID to set up his or her iPhone. If you set it up on a shared family computer, make sure that you sync information specific to your child so that the phone contains information that is only for your child and not for others.
Setting a password helps protect your child’s smartphone from prying eyes, and if it is lost or stolen, it prevents unauthorized persons from gaining access to information about your family.
Use a passcode or lock combination that you and your child can remember, or if possible, use FaceID (child’s face) or Touch ID (your finger and child’s finger) for an extra layer of security.
Do not forget to explain to your child why he should not reveal the pattern, PIN or password to anyone.
2. Create a family account
Family accounts help each family member access each other’s app purchases without having to pay for them again. This feature is mostly found on iPhones and allows family members to access purchases from iTunes, Apple Books and the App Store, as well as download content for free.
It’s also a great way to save money and ensure that all family members have the same apps and content. However, you can hide mature purchases so that your child does not have access to them.
If you want to listen to music, you can, for example, get an Apple Music family subscription and stream millions of songs from the iTunes Store. Alternatively, you can save them to your iPhone to listen to them offline. Plus, your kids will have a lot of music to choose from as you can share it with up to six people.
3. Add location and tracking
Location and tracking helps when your child’s phone is lost or stolen, so you don’t need to replace it. If it’s an iPhone, set up Find My iPhone, which uses built-in GPS to track and locate your phone. It can also block the device over the Internet or erase all of its data to prevent thieves from gaining access to it.
For Android smartphones, the Google Play Store has several apps that you can choose from, such as the free Find My Device app from Google or simply turn on Location in your phone settings.
You can also install a child tracker app to track your child’s location when they are away from home.
4. Put the mobile parental controls in place
Your child’s phone should have Mobile Parental Controls installed so they don’t have access to inappropriate content or spend too much time on the phone than they should.
Some of the controls you can enable include:
- Check if your mobile operator offers special rates and kid-friendly options when purchasing a SIM for a kid.
- Disable mobile data. use your carrier’s self-service options and your child’s phone settings. Instead, connect it to your home Wi-Fi network so you can monitor usage.
- A safe, kid-friendly browser that will restrict access to inappropriate content.
- Block websites that display or contain inappropriate content.
- Application limitations for cameras, bookstores, video stores, music and video calls. You can also filter multimedia content like movies, TV shows, music and podcasts to keep only what your child is allowed to watch or listen to.
- Limit in-app purchases as kids can get huge bills if they inadvertently purchase additional add-ons or in-app purchases in games and other apps.
- Limit the amount of time you use your child’s smartphone. If it’s an iPhone, use Screen Time to set limits on how long your child can use their phone each day, or even limit who they can call, text, or FaceTime. For Android phones, use the free Google Family Link app to set time limits for daily phone use, schedule phone disconnections, and block phone access with one tap.
5. Install appropriate and child-friendly applications
Children love to play games and watch videos such as cartoons and movies on their smartphones. With that in mind, you can find entertainment and safety apps that can be installed on your child’s phone.
The Google Play Store and Apple App Store are filled with awesome programs and great games, as well as educational apps that your child can enjoy while learning new things. There are also homework apps, free texting apps, and more for kids of all ages.
Some of these apps are available for free, while others require prepayment and service charges, but usually there are several games already installed on your child’s smartphone, as well as access to popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
If you want to filter the types of apps your child can download, you can use Google Play Parental Controls (Settings> Parental Controls). On iPhone, go to Settings> Screen Time> Content & Privacy Restrictions.
Click iTunes & App Store Purchases> Don’t Allow.
6. Get a screen protector and a protective case
A screen protector and a protective case are essential on your child’s smartphone because kids tend to drop things or handle them roughly. If you want to prevent your phone from breaking, get a good protective case that will prevent any damage if the phone is dropped. Screen protectors in this case prevent cracks, scratches and other damages on the screen that could make the phone unusable.
Get your child’s iPhone extended AppleCare warranty if possible, or phone insurance if you like, although it’s not necessary as long as you have a good phone case and screen protector.
The best smart phone for a baby’s first time user
You can give your child an Android smartphone or an iPhone, depending on your preferences. If he or she is older, you can ask him which one he prefers to use.
When you decide to buy a phone, don’t spend too much money on it, because kids can lose, drop, break or soak the phone in water. There are several affordable smartphone options that you can purchase for your child, but we’ll only mention four to get you started:
This phone offers high speed that kids will love when they play games or open applications. Plus, it has deep mobile parental controls that you can use to restrict your child’s use of the device, such as downtime, to remotely schedule hours that the child cannot use the iPhone. App restrictions are included to set the amount of time your child can use any app, as well as activity reports to track their usage. You can also prevent the purchase and download of apps.
This inexpensive smartphone with a beautiful display and good resolution, and a good size for your child (especially a teenager) to watch movies, videos and play games. It has good speeds, lasts all day, has an 8MP front-facing camera for selfies and two 12MP and 5MP cameras on the back for good photos.
Moto E5 Play
It’s an inexpensive smartphone that’s easy to track, widely available, and can run the basic apps your child needs.
If you are uncomfortable buying a phone for your child that you think will break within a few days after being handed over to him or her, get the CAT S41. It’s a rugged phone that can withstand drops and shocks up to six feet.
In addition, it is dust, dirt and scratch resistant and has an IP68 waterproof rating. The 5,000mAh battery lasts for days, so you can rest easy knowing they won’t have to constantly charge their phones.