What to know before buying your child’s first smartphone

Is a Smartphone on Your Child’s Christmas list?

With the countdown to Christmas well underway, new Telstra research reveals that 49% of parents with children under the age of 18 are planning to give their child a smartphone this year. With almost a third (31%) of parents concerned about social media, a quarter (25%) worried about safety measures and 17% nervous about costs, it is clear there are numerous considerations for parents to take into account before handing over a new device.

As children get older and crave more independence, having a smartphone is a great way to stay connected when apart, and 53% of parents believe a smartphone will help their child to learn responsibility.

Louisa Harris-Baxter, Telstra’s cyber safety lead says, “As a mother of two myself, I understand how difficult the decision is when weighing up whether to give a child their first phone.   The truth is, there is no ‘right’ age for a smartphone – it really comes down to whether a child is able to demonstrate trust and responsibility by following agreed rules and handling the phone sensibly.”

Smart Tips for Buying (and managing) Your Little One’s First Mobile

The idea of your child owning this handy gadget doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are some of Louisa’s top tips on what to be prepared for when making the purchase:

Louisa’s top tips

Tip #1: Setting Expectations on Mobile Usage

Set realistic expectations around acceptable screen time. By instilling a healthy relationship with your child’s digital devices early on you will set them up for the future. Telstra’s My First Mobile Agreement is a fun way to kick off a productive two-way conversation with your kids.

Tip #2: Parental Control Tools

Parental control tools are an option for the first year to help monitor your child’s habits, without being overbearing. The government’s eSafety website has some great advice on how to set up controls that suit your family. Visit the eSafety website

Tip #3: Understand Your Cyber Security Options

Set up a two-factor authentication; by doing this, parents will be notified if a hacker or unwanted source tries to access your kid’s private channel. It’s also worth teaching kids from a young age not to share passwords with others or across different sites and accounts, and get them in the habit of using passphrases so they’re hard to guess but easy to remember.

Tip #4: Be a Good Role Model

Lead by example, if you want the dinner table to be a device-free zone that means the same rules apply to you too. Children are happier to follow rules if they feel like everyone is playing by them.

Tip #5: Stay Involved

There’s no need to be overbearing, but encourage kids to use their devices in communal areas of the home. That way if they do come across something they weren’t looking for, they can let an adult know straight away.

There is no cookie cutter template on the perfect age for a child to own a smartphone, or how to manage your child’s online activities, but it’s important to allow for open communication whilst also setting expectations to ensure your little one is ready. For more tips, I encourage you to visit our Smartphone Safety Hub.

For more information:

Federal Government’s esafety website

Telstra’s My First Mobile Agreement