Buying a child a mobile phone for the first time is something of a minefield. The first thing to do is to make sure that the child is the right age. I know of a child who was given their first mobile phone at the age of 5. This seems a little extreme when you consider that he was either at school or home all the time and none of his friends had one! However, it is the case now that some children get one at the age of 8 or 9, although these tend to be something of a fashion accessory rather than something that they really need. A good guideline is to get them a phone when they start senior school as this often means that they are travelling to and from school without their parents.
Smartphone or Basic Phone?
Getting the right type of phone is also essential. While you may not want them to have a top of the range phone that is costly and will be even costlier if it gets damaged or lost, buying a very basic phone will not go down too well if they start to compare handsets with their friends. You may be able to see the sense in a phone that simply makes calls or sends texts, but your fashion-conscious child will have a different opinion. There are plenty of smartphones that fall into the budget category but do not cost a great deal to buy. This way the child can access their emails and internet while they are out and about and will not lose face with friends.
Once you have decided on a budget for your child’s handset, you need to stick to it. Do not be persuaded into spending any more than you want to or any more than you can afford. This applies if you are shopping in a store as sales people will often try to persuade you into buying a handset in a higher price range.
Contract or PAYG?
The type of tariff should also be taken into consideration. A contract phone is not always a good idea for a child. They can easily forget how often they have used the phone and can easily run up a bill that is far too much for you to handle. PAYG is the best option for a youngster as they can then become aware of the cost of running a mobile phone. There are some good tariffs on PAYG, particularly when calling or texting phones on the same network. Find out which networks their friends are on and try to go with the majority as these calls and texts will be cheaper.
All manufacturers have a basic smartphone which will do everything that the child needs from calls and messaging to taking photos and updating social networking sites. And the good news is that many of them are now able to withstand a great deal of wear and tear as well as being waterproof to a certain extent, making them safe in the hands of even the clumsiest child.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/8047838494/