You have already determined that it is time to get your child a phone, but you don’t know where to begin! Many parents are just like you and are lost when it comes to technology. We have come up with a handy guide that will walk you through all of the necessary steps to getting your kid a new phone.
What to buy
The first order of business is to select the device you will purchase for your child. We recommend Android for your children’s devices for a number of reasons, but mainly because with Android you have more parental control options than with an Apple device. With so many Android choices available too, it will be the most affordable option as well. Your child will not need the latest and greatest phone, especially since they will likely break the device within the first year. A cheap Samsung model or a ruggedly rated device would be a perfect choice.
What to Install
If there are any apps you already know you will be allowing, like a reading or math app, go ahead and install those first. When you install the parental controls later it will be easier to allow all of those at the same time. Once you’ve installed the apps you know your child will be using, install the Parental Control app. Of course, we recommend Boomerang Parental Control.
For messaging, don’t rely on Samsung’s or the phone manufacturer you have chosen’s default messaging app. Instead, install the Android Messages application to allow better syncing between devices, and allow parents to check on text messages from their computer. Since most teens don’t actually text though, this may not be very important.
Install the Spin Browser to allow filtered access to the internet. The internet is a vast pit of content, and making sure your children are using a filter is extremely important these days.
We also install a specific chore application so our children can keep track of whether or not they have finished their chores for the day. We can also pay them their allowance through the application as well. This really helps them learn to keep to-do lists for themselves. You can also install a to-do list or homework application to help them learn organization skills.
Configure Parental Controls
Now that you have the parental controls installed on the device, you can configure the limits you want to set. Create daily time limits, set bedtime hours, and select the apps you want to always allow, and those which will count towards their daily limit. You can also set up notifications about inappropriate text content or messages from unknown numbers.
Make sure to force internet traffic to the Spin browser by disabling Chrome and other browsers. Forcing traffic to Spin will allow your children access to the internet, but filter the content so they are less likely to come across something inappropriate.
Once you have all the parental controls established, make sure your child is able to contact everyone they need to. Set up a Google account for them, if they are under 13 you will need to set up an account through Google FamilyLink. With the account created, add all of the necessary contacts to their Google account. Never add contacts to the phone itself, unless you want to keep entering the contacts every time they get a new phone. Set the Google account as the default for new contacts so they won’t lose any of the contacts they enter as well. Make sure to include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, trusted neighbors, and friends.
Connect A Google Calendar
If your child is over 13 you can share their personal Google calendar with each parent so they can add things like doctors appointments to the calendar. This also helps the parents get a broad view of all the appointments every family member has during the week. As the child adds an appointment they create, it automatically syncs up with the parent’s calendar. For children under 13, you may need to use the “Family Calendar” created by Google to sync appointments.
With all of these settings and programs in place, you should be all set to sit down with your child, go over your device contract and hand it over!