August 20, 2019

Parental Controls: Getting Them Their First Smartphone

Written by valeria

Tips & Tricks

With the first day of school looming on your refrigerator calendar, you must be asking yourself the same question every parent asks themselves: “Should I get them their first smartphone?”

And just like every other parent, here are the next thoughts racing through your head:

“Are they responsible enough, will it hurt their grades?”

“What if they break it?”

“What are they really going to use it for?”

“Are they just going to be on it all the time?”

“Can I afford it?”

No, you really shouldn't!

I’m sure your internal debate went down a long list, but find comfort in knowing that you are not alone! I sat down with some parents who work here at TextNow and asked them a few questions about their experience with getting their kids their first smartphone.

At What Age Did You Decide to Get Them a Smartphone?

Breakdown of the ages at which TextNow parents bought their kids their first smartphone.

Breakdown of the ages at which TextNow parents bought their kids their first smartphone.

Surprisingly, the age at which the majority decided to buy their kids their first smartphone was a lot younger than I expected — only 10!

This appears to be consistent with a recent Influence Central report TechCrunch published in 2016, whereby the average age for a child to get their first smartphone was at 10.3 years. So if you think that it’s still too early for your child, perhaps this is a time to reconsider!

What Was The Main Reason That You Got Them a Smartphone?

After establishing the age, I was curious about this next question, as there are some obvious reasons I assumed were the main reasons people bought their children a smartphone. Turns out, perhaps were others I hadn’t even considered:

“Connectivity to their friends and us- connectivity is important socially, and for peace of mind.”

“To make sure we can reach each other whenever necessary.”

“So they could reach me.”

These are just some of the answers I received, and they all ended up relating to the same fundamental reason: So they could reach out to the parents whenever needed.

For fun, I ran the same question on our Twitter page, and received similar results:

Twitter poll of reasons parents bought their kids their first smartphone

Teenagers can be persuasive, after all!

No surprises there! As your children grow older and participate in more extracurriculars and social events, it’s only natural to want to have the peace of mind of knowing that they can reach out to you no matter what happens.

Did You Get Them a Service Plan As Well?

Now that we’ve established that they did, in fact, get their kids a smartphone, and why, my next big question was whether they attached a plan to that phone:

Breakdown of the types of plans purchased alongside their smartphones.

Breakdown of the types of plans purchased alongside their smartphones.

With all the attention on which carrier can offer the best unlimited data plan (hint: it’s us!), it’s quickly forgotten that “starter” plans are just as important, and maybe even more valuable to consumers.

Coming back to the original question of “why did you get your kids a smartphone”, it’s clear to see that communication is an integral factor. But as my Twitter poll shows, many parents also merely gave in to their kids’ demands rather then decide on their own.

So a great compromise is to look into plans that include unlimited calling and texting for your peace of mind, but also some data for their entertainment! (This seems like a excellent place for a plugin about how TextNow offers these exact plans, along with other affordable plans for every type of user.)

Pros vs. Cons

All right, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. I’ve asked our wonderful TextNow participants to tell me in a few words the main benefits and challenges of their kids having smartphones:

Pros and cons of buying their first smartphone

Understandably, every parent has reservations about smartphone usage, but as I famously wrote in a Back-To-School themed blog post last year, all of that can be monitored. Whether through a phone’s native parental controls, or through Google’s solution to this problem (ability to set up an admin account on the Play Store), you can control what apps your child has access to as well as monitor how much time they’re spending and where.

Do You Have Any Advice For Parents Considering Getting Their Kids Their First Smartphone?

If you’ve gotten through this entire article, but are still on the fence with whether you should get them their first smartphone, our TextNow parents have some last words of advice for you:

“Don’t get them a smartphone unless they absolutely need it, and if they do, configure it yourself as much as you can, enable all kind of parental controls, etc.”

“Add them on Instagram and leave embarrassing comments!”

OK, so maybe that last one is my own piece of advice, but you get the point. Buying that first smartphone can seem daunting, but I hope that I (along with all the TextNow parents) just proved to you that it doesn’t have to be.

So if you think you’re ready, check out our current Back to School Sale, and if you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!