Top 5 Considerations When Purchasing a Cell Phone for Your Child

As parents begin shopping for back-to-school supplies, many are contemplating adding or updating a cell phone to the list of must have items. According to a new study by Pew Research Center, 78 percent of Americans aged 12 – 17 have a cell phone. Whether it’s their first phone or an upgraded model, here are five things to consider before investing in a cell phone for your child.

1. Determine why the child needs a cell phone. Most parents purchase a cell phone for their child so they have peace of mind knowing they can reach them whenever needed. However, cell phones can also be helpful in an emergency situation, either as a way for parents to contact children or as a way for kids to contact parents. Some cell phones include a GPS tracker, perfect to find lost children or keep an eye on dating teens. Sometimes it’s nice to keep younger children entertained while waiting for an older sibling. Many parents also use the cell phone to teach responsibility.

2. Determine what features are needed on a cell phone. The reason for purchasing a cell phone for a child determines what features are important. Knowing how the child will use the phone is key. Younger children needing an emergency only phone would be fine with a basic phone without internet access. Teens and tweens likely want texting capabilities. If entertainment is the goal, the phone needs to have enough memory for apps and games.

3. Determine what type of phone is appropriate. Once you determine the features needed for a phone, it’s easier to determine what type of phone is best for your child. We’ve already mentioned kid-friendly phones where parents can assign numbers and limit whom the child may call. Prepaid phones are perfect for those who are not ready for the responsibility of a more expensive cell phone. Disposable phones are perfect for a class trip or limited engagement.

4. Determine the best phone and usage plan. The type of phone affects the cost of the phone. Ask cell phone providers about family plans and whether they offer free calling or texting to other family members and those on the same service provider. Adding a limited line to an existing account is an inexpensive option. Limiting text messages, data usage, web contact accessibility or even hours of the day the phone is fully operational can also affect your final price.

5. Consider adding a device protection plan Even the most responsible kids can have mishaps that cause their phone to be unusable. Today’s smartphones are highly subsidized by carriers. If they're lost, stolen or damaged, replacing them can mean big bucks. Consider a device protection program like Brightstar Device Protection. For a small monthly fee, if the phone is lost, stolen or damaged, it is replaced quickly after a simple claims process.