Table of contents
01The right age for a smartphone02How to monitor a kid's phone03Looking for the right plan04The best phones for kids05Consider a rugged device instead
If your children are anything like mine, they probably started asking for a phone shortly after they started talking. Before we talk about the best phone for kids, the real question is if they’re ready for a phone. The answer is complicated.
A 2019 survey suggested nearly 65% of American preteens had a phone of their own, though it seemed like many of them primarily used it as a gaming device. There’s even a whole campaign devoted to waiting until your kids are a bit older, dubbed Wait until 8th (as in 8th grade). With so many conflicting opinions, it’s hard to know when kids should get a phone. Let’s dive into the subject a bit, and then we’ll talk about the actual options.
Just want to know what some of the best phones for kids are? Scroll down to the bottom.
At what age should kids get a phone?
The truth is there’s no right age to give your kid a phone. Social pressure and the need to fit in with the crowd will have your kids asking from a pretty early age. That said, the most straightforward answer for a long time was to wait until your kid becomes a teenager. At least that is what tech mogul Bill Gates does, arguably one of the biggest supporters of tech.
We don't have cellphones at the table when we are having a meal, we didn't give our kids cellphones until they were 14, and they complained other kids got them earlier. Bill Gates
Around this age, your kids probably hang out solo with their friends more often and maybe even take public transportation by themselves. That means there’s a genuine need to keep track of your kids and ensure their safety.
Once your kids become teens, they might have a part-time job or other means that allows them to help with the bill. That makes them slightly more likely to take care of their device since it actually costs them something!
Of course, there are genuinely legitimate reasons you might want to consider getting a phone for kids when they are younger than 13.
Why kids under 13 might need phones
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
If you have a relatively simple schedule for your children, there’s no huge need for a phone. Things get a bit more complicated once you start adding girl/boy scouts, sports, and other activities. If you have little reason to change pick-up times from these events, just having the school or organization’s number is probably enough. But if you have an irregular work schedule yourself, you might want an easy way to quickly communicate to your kids if their plans need to change.
Another great reason is if you aren’t the sole caregiver. Let’s say you are a divorcee. While you can certainly communicate with your ex, sometimes that can invite more drama than you’d like (trust me, I’ve seen it!). In these cases, sometimes having a way to communicate with your kids directly makes a lot of sense.
The long and short of it, if your kids are going to be away from you or a trustworthy adult, a kid’s phone is worth the investment.
So, when should you get kids their first phone?
As you may have assumed, the answer isn’t straightforward, and expert opinions vary. Our best advice is to get kids their first phone when it’s necessary, or when you feel they are mature enough to handle the power of the internet. If you feel like a telephone is needed but don’t trust a kid with a smartphone, you might also want to consider getting them a dumb phone. This ensures communication with your kids stays active, without the need to give them full access to the dangers of the internet.
Of course, you can still limit a kid’s engagement with the internet, even with a smartphone. Let’s show you how it’s done.
How to monitor a kid’s phone
One concern you might have about getting a phone is if your kids will use the device responsibly. According to ChildGuard.com, internet crime and abuse statistics paint a pretty grim picture of what can happen if proper precautions aren’t taken.
As much as 48% of teens say they’ve been in a car when the driver was texting, which is a genuinely startling statistic. 71% of teen girls and 67% of teen boys have sent or posted sexually suggestive content to a boyfriend or girlfriend. Let’s not forget about sexual predators or cyberbullying, either.
While all those scenarios are worrisome, they can be rare. What’s more worrying is what your kid will do with unlimited access to the internet. We all know there are plenty of distractions online, which may hinder a kid’s performance while doing homework. Additionally, 70% of children seven to 18 years old have accidentally encountered online pornography, often through web searches.
All that said, you surely want to keep an eye on what your kid is doing online. Let’s show you how to protect them as much as possible.
Google Family Link
There are several ways to monitor your child’s activity, including Google’s Family Link system. We have a great guide on setting it up and using it, but what is it exactly? In short, the free service lets you set up restrictions, including control over messages, time limits for usage, control over apps, and even a basic content filter. It also has a way to track your kid’s phone, which is super helpful.
It's probably not enough to just buy a phone for your kid. You'll want a way to monitor activity too.
I’ll be honest, while Family Link is a great starting point, it doesn’t give you complete control over their viewing habits and is sometimes easy to find workarounds for. Instead, I’d consider Google Play Link one tool you should use in a utility belt of child safety tools. I’d also recommend getting a child browser for younger kids instead of letting them use Google Chrome or another traditional browser.
Kids Safe Search is one I have used on my daughter’s phone and my son’s tablet, but there are plenty of options out there, so do some research using Google Search and Google Play to figure out what’s best for your needs.
You might also want to consider a more comprehensive kids security suite, like Norton Family parental control. Of course, all of this depends on how responsible your kids are and how much of a control freak you happen to be. (I happen to be a helicopter dad, and I’m okay with it.)
What is the best phone plan for kids?
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
Before we talk about the best phone for kids, you might wonder what’s the best phone plan for a kid. I highly recommend you don’t just rush out and add them to your family plan. For one, kids aren’t responsible. They are likely to do things that can drive up a traditional bill, and it’s almost inevitable they will break or lose at least one phone. My teen daughter hasn’t seen her phone in at least a month or so, and I’ve shut off the line for the time being and likely won’t turn it back on for a while.
If you are locked into a traditional plan, it’s not always easy to cancel. While there’s no right plan, I highly recommend using a prepaid option such as US Mobile, Google Fi, or one of the countless other options. These make for the best kids’ phone plans because they are typically very affordable. And you can usually customize the plan to meet your kids’ needs.
More: Here’s a guide to the best prepaid plans
We started my daughter out with FreedomPop since it had a free base plan. Eventually, we upgraded to a paid plan (before I canceled after she lost her phone), but we only paid around $100 a year for it, and it was more than good enough for her basic needs.
What are the best phones for kids?
Okay, now we are finally ready for the central question: what are the best phones for kids? The answer to this depends, once again.
Unless you have a very young child, getting a specialty phone designed for kids is probably unnecessary. This is good because most of these options require a traditional plan, are overpriced, or will be something your kids grow out of fast.
Before we move on to the actual best list, it’s worth repeating: your kid will probably break or lose whatever phone you give them eventually. If you have a teen willing to save up and buy the device themselves, it’s up to them if they want one of the best Android phones or even an iPhone. We recommend a cheap phone for everyone else, such as one of the options you’ll find below.
- Palm Phone
- Motorola Moto G Power (2022)
- Pixel 6a
- Apple iPhone SE (2022)
- Your old phone
The Palm Phone is something a little bit different for your kids. It functions as a fully-fledged smartphone with plenty of apps, but it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. You’ll only find a 3.3-inch display on board, which is perfect for preventing the phone from taking over your little one’s time. It packs a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP selfie shooter, so at least there’s some flexibility to snap photos. While it was an expensive device at launch, it can now be had for a very reasonable price.
Motorola Moto G Power (2022)
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
The 2022 Moto G Power is a perfect first smartphone for your kiddo. The plastic body ensures the phone can take some abuse if dropped. A super-accessible price tag makes it so your wallet won’t feel the blow too much if the phone breaks.
It features a 6.5-inch HD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate, a Mediatek Helio G37 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64-128GB of storage, a massive 5,000mAh battery, and Android 11. It’s not Motorola’s most powerful device. If you have a kid you know will likely lose or break their first phone, though, it’s a safe bet.
While the Moto G Play is technically a good deal too, the newer Moto G Power is a much better phone that costs only a bit more. If you can spend a bit more, you should also look at the 2022 Moto G Stylus, which also has a large 5,000mAh battery, better overall specs, and an included stylus.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
The Pixel 6a is one of the more expensive devices on this list, but it might be worth upgrading. Needless to say, it’s probably best for the more responsible children around, as it isn’t exactly cheap either. It has a $449 MSRP.
If you can justify getting your child this phone, he will be ecstatic to own it. It has good performance, awesome cameras, a larger 6.1-inch OLED screen for media, and an overall great experience.
Apple iPhone SE
Let’s be honest; there is no option beyond the iPhone for many teens. I’ve seen this with my older nephew; he lives and breathes iPhones because it makes him seem cooler. While your preteen probably won’t care what phone you get them, older teens will be pickier. And let’s face it, teenagers love their iPhones. Our pick, the iPhone SE (3rd generation), is pretty highly recommended even by Android sites like this one.
Looks and reputation aside, the iPhone SE is actually a pretty good phone for kids (or adults). It offers excellent performance, featuring an Apple A15 Bionic chipset. The screen is great, albeit small. Apple is known for its designs, and the newer iPhone SE doesn’t disappoint. It offers glass and metal elements around the body. Not to mention the iOS UI is known for its simplicity. Your kid won’t have to break his head figuring out Android.
Your old phone or something bought second hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
The reality is almost any phone will work as a kid’s phone. No matter which way you go, check reviews online and ensure that the low price tag doesn’t mean awful performance.
If your kid is older, be sure to involve them in hunting for the right phone. This will make them more invested in the device and hopefully treat it with respect.
With that in mind, one of the best phones for kids might be any old phone you no longer use. Just ensure it’s still performing “well enough” and works with the MVNO you are interested in. Alternatively, you can check out our guide for buying a used phone if you don’t have one lying around.
More: Our guide to buying a used phone
Is your kid a phone killer?
Chase Bernath / Android Authority
We couldn’t leave without redirecting you to some recommendations that stand a higher chance of surviving anyone’s torture. If your kid is particularly bad at taking care of technology, you might want to invest in something much more resistant. We have a nifty guide for finding the best rugged smartphones in existence. Many of these go beyond the IP ratings and even get military-standard certifications.
Here: The best rugged phones you can buy today
So that’s it for our look at the best phones for kids. Also, be sure to check out our guide on how to make your Android phone safe for your kids and our kid-friendly apps and games lists.
“Ten to 12 is a great range because kids are still very connected to their parents and into their parents being in their phone and in their business,” says Catherine Pearlman, a licensed clinical social worker and author of “First Phone,” a guide for kids.Should a parent check their child's phone? ›
Responsible parents must protect kids from potential harm. Monitoring your children's phone activities and messages is a significant part of that responsibility. The fact is most of the time children spend using phones will be online, where anyone can publish anything.Should a 12 year old kid have a phone? ›
The average age kids get a phone is between 12 and 13. With that in mind, it's up to the parents to be the best judge of whether their child is ready for a cell phone.Should a 13 year old have his own phone? ›
The right age to give kids their first cellphone is really up to you. Age isn't as important as your kid's maturity level, ability to follow rules at home and school, and sense of responsibility as well as your own family's needs.What age do most kids get a phone 2022? ›
- They're starting to get more independent. ...
- They're legally allowed on social media by age 13. ...
- Their friends are about to get phones too.
By 14, it's 91 percent. Max Stossel, the founder and CEO of Social Awakening, a group that promotes healthy use of technology and social media, recommends that parents hold the line on giving kids smartphones until at least eighth grade.Should I read my 14 year olds text messages? ›
“It's just a tool. Reading your child's text messages is not that different than eavesdropping or reading their diary.” She advises parents to stay in their lane by steering clear of needless snooping, whether trying to find out what your kids are saying or who they are hanging out with.At what age should parents stop checking your phone? ›
The majority, 31%, say age 18 for sure. But there's also 17% who say they'll stop at age 16. There's no blanket perfect age, however. In some homes, you can trust an 8-year-old; in others you may still want or need parental controls active for much longer.Is it wrong to look through your child's phone? ›
It's 100 percent your right to check their devices,” said Bill Wiltse, President of Child Rescue Coalition. Child predators want to invade children's lives, an abuse that they may never recover from. The horrific truth is that some children are driven to suicide having suffered online abuse.What is SnapKidz app? ›
A parent-child photo album product specially designed for parents, Ai intelligently helps you pick out children from cluttered photos!
Simple answer- don't go through your kids phones without reason.How can I get SnapKidz? ›
What's the difference between Snapchat and SnapKidz? In a way, there is just one app. When you download Snapchat you are prompted to create a user account including your date of birth. If you indicate that you are less than thirteen years old, you get SnapKidz instead of the full-blown version of the app.Should 13 year olds swear? ›
In America, they have the right as Americans to cuss. But one should use common sense when using the cuss words. Don't say the words around adults, such as parents, teachers, or other people of authority. Its generally frowned upon, but not wrong or illegal.Should I take my 14 year olds phone at night? ›
The bottom line: When parents take away teens' cell phones at night, they're helping to ensure this natural sleep process can occur, so their teenager can get a decent's night rest. In the case of your daughter, the “trust” line is a trap. Don't go there. This is about providing a safe environment for your family.Should I check my teenagers phone? ›
The phone plan is probably in your name and you probably bought the electronic devices. But even if not, you have every right and responsibility to check them if you've been given cause to do so because you have the right and obligation to keep your home safe, your child safe, and your other children safe.Is it OK for a 9 year old to have a phone? ›
Age 7 to 9 – The experts say “no phones.” Sure, you could argue that this is old enough to have a phone, but the brain is still in a serious developmental stage, and all technology has a major impact at this age.Should a 10 year old have TikTok? ›
What age is TikTok recommended for? Common Sense recommends the app for age 15+ mainly due to the privacy issues and mature content. TikTok requires that users be at least 13 years old to use the full TikTok experience, although there is a way for younger kids to access the app.Why should a kid get a phone? ›
Getting a cellphone, or a smartphone, has become a milestone for many kids, allowing them to fit in with their classmates and build trust with their parents through frequent communication. As far as safety goes, smartphones are helpful in emergencies and can even help you locate your child using the GPS function.Should a 12 year old have their own room? ›
As kids grow up they might want more privacy and need their own space, especially if they're sharing a bedroom with a brother or sister. While it's not illegal for them to share, it's recommended that children over the age of 10 should have their own bedrooms – even if they're siblings or step-siblings.Are 9 year olds tweens? ›
Kids between 8 and 12 are called “tweens” because they are in between children and teenagers. It's very normal for kids this age to start to move from being very close to parents to wanting to be more independent. But they still need a lot of help from their parents.
Six out of 10 pre-teens were aged 10-11 when they received their phone. Twenty percent of 8-9 year olds and 15 percent of 12-year olds received a cell phone.Is it normal to sext at 14? ›
Sexting, in the form of shared photographs or explicit text messages, is becoming a fairly common experience for teens and preteens. Research shows that 14.8 percent of kids ages 12-17 have sent explicit text messages while 24.8 percent have received them.What age sexting is normal? ›
Not only does sexting start early, the study found that it is also fairly common. As early as 8 years old, more than one in 10 kids with smartphones will become exposed to sexting, the study found. By 13, more than a third of children who have a smartphone will be exposed.Is teenage sexting normal? ›
How common is sexting among teens? Sexting is considered a relatively common practice among teens. Estimates by researchers start at a low of 20 percent of teens and reach higher than 60 percent in some studies. Teenagers, however, believe that about 90 percent of their peers are sexting.At what age do kids want privacy? ›
By age six, most kids understand the concept of privacy, and may start asking for modesty at home. Here's what you can do to honour your child's privacy. A child's demand for privacy signals their increasing independence, says Sandy Riley, a child and adolescent therapist in Toronto.Should parents look through their child's texts? ›
Your kids may not like it, but they'll respect you for being honest. They'll also understand your point of view better if you explain why you want to see what's on their phone: It helps to keep them safe.Why you shouldn't take your child's phone? ›
“When you remove a teen's lifeline to their friends, there will be a major emotional backlash, a breakdown of the parent-child relationship.” When phones are taken away as punishment, Dr. Peters says, kids tend to withdraw from the parent. “They don't try to solve their problem.Why parents shouldn't look through my phone? ›
No amount of spying on our kids is going to make them safer. In fact, it can lead to a host of unwanted consequences, like building mutual distrust between you and your children. It can backfire and encourage them to try even harder to hide risky behavior because they know you're looking for it.Are my parents allowed to look through my phone? ›
So realistically, if the phone was a gift to you by your parents before you were an adult, since you are now an adult you have a right to privacy in all your affairs, including your mobile phone.Why should parents look through their kids phone? ›
As kids spend more and more time deep in their devices, they may not be communicating to parents how they're actually feeling or what struggles they're facing. Because of this, issues like cyberbullying and depression may go unaddressed, negatively affecting school performance, attendance, and self-worth.
Some teenagers often wonder: can my parents see my Snapchats? Well, it's possible to view your kid's Snapchat activity using powerful tracking apps such as mSpy. With mSpy, you can conveniently track your loved one's Snaps, shared media, chats, and even view their vanished messages on Snapchat.Is it OK if a 11 year old has Snapchat? ›
You have to enter your birth date to set up an account, but there's no age verification, so it's easy for kids under 13 to sign up. Common Sense Media rates Snapchat OK for teens 16 and up, mainly because of the exposure to age-inappropriate content and the marketing ploys, such as quizzes, that collect data.Is there a kid version of TikTok? ›
There's a TikTok alternative for younger kids
A “younger user” section of the app allows kids under 13 in on some of the fun. Younger kids can only access videos that have been curated by TikTok's algorithm for a younger audience, and there are even more limitations when it comes to the videos they create.
For example, the parents often violate the privacy of their adult children by entering bedrooms without knocking, attempting to overhear telephone conversations, asking personal questions, opening personal mail, infringing on personal time, giving unsolicited advice, and going through personal possessions.What do I do if my child has inappropriate pictures? ›
- Do NOT send the picture to anyone. Naturally, children and teens will probably want to inform an adult of an inappropriate picture. ...
- Do NOT delete the picture. ...
- Tell a trustworthy adult immediately. ...
- Call the police. ...
- Discuss the matter as a family.
As a general guideline, Dr. Eagar advises not allowing single dating before age sixteen. “There's an enormous difference between a fourteen- or fifteen-year- old and a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old in terms of life experience,” he says.Is SnapKidz like Snapchat? ›
In essence, SnapKidz is just a photo and drawing app for kids, which lacks Snapchat's main feature: sending messages.What is the lowest age for Snapchat? ›
Age 13 is the minimum age to sign up for Snapchat. This Snapchat age requirement is lower than the minimum age of apps like Instagram, which require users to be 16+. There's a higher Snapchat age requirement of 18 to use certain features, like payments or attaching one's name to a global Spotlight video.Is SnapKidz on Snapchat? ›
It's an interesting experiment: The creators of Snapchat, the social app for sharing photos that disappear in seconds, have just introduced SnapKidz, a non-social photo app for kids under 13 with Apple mobile devices (it's not yet available for Android).How do I stop saying the F word? ›
Just say more appropriate words rather than the really offensive ones. For example, instead of saying the F word, say, "Flipping" or "Freaking" or "Fudge" or "Frickin", and for the S word, "sugar", "shoot", "shiz", "shingles", "crap" or "crud."
Although there's no hard-lines or consensus on a certain age, the general recommendation will be: Never use the f-word if you are under the age of 13. Strongly avoid using the word if you are under the age of 18.What age do most kids swear? ›
Other research has found that children start swearing around age two and that it becomes more adult-like by ages 11 or 12, authors at the Association for Psychological Science noted in 2012. “By the time children enter school, they have a working vocabulary of 30 to 40 offensive words,” the report continued.Why parents are so strict? ›
Some strict parents have high expectations. They teach their children self-discipline by holding them accountable. These parents have their kids' best interests at heart. But some strict parents are controlling because they fear being seen as incompetent parents if their children make mistakes.Why is my 14 year old daughter so angry? ›
Anger is a normal part of adolescence and can be a healthy emotional response to outside stressors. Anger is a secondary emotion for teens as it often masks other underlying issues including sadness, hurt, fear, and shame. When these underlying emotions become too much, a teen will often respond by lashing out.How do you punish a teenager that doesn't care? ›
- Use Consequences That Have Meaning. ...
- Don't Try to Appeal to His Emotions with Speeches. ...
- Make Consequences Black and White. ...
- Talk to Your Child About Effective Problem-Solving. ...
- Don't Get Sucked into an Argument over Consequences.
For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended no more than two hours of screen time for children and teenagers, and absolutely no screen time for children under 2.How many hours should a 13 year old be on their phone? ›
5-17 years old: Generally no more than two hours per day, except for homework.Should kids under 13 have phones? ›
The right age to give kids their first cellphone is really up to you. Age isn't as important as your kid's maturity level, ability to follow rules at home and school, and sense of responsibility as well as your own family's needs.Is it OK for a 10 year old to have a phone? ›
Ages 10 to 12
Cheng says parents should place strict limits on phone usage at this age and not give children Internet-enabled mobile devices. “Kids should only be allowed to use phones to call their parents,” he says.
Helps Keep Kids Safe
The easiest and best reason to buy a mobile phone for an 11-year-old kid is safety. Kids face many dangers these days, and having a mobile phone can help protect them. Kids should know how to use their phones in case of emergencies while they're out on their own.
"There is no law about when you are old enough to have a girlfriend or boyfriend, unlike the age of consent. You need to know your child well, because some children may be ready for a relationship at 12 but another not until they are 17."How do I tell my 10 year old about death? ›
Use simple words to talk about death.
Be calm and caring when you tell your child that someone has died. Use words that are clear and direct. "I have some sad news to tell you. Grandma died today." Pause to give your child a moment to take in your words.
A woman becomes able to get pregnant when she ovulates for the first time — about 14 days before her first menstrual period. This happens to some women as early as when they are eight years old, or even earlier. Most often, ovulation begins before women turn 20.Should you read your child's text messages? ›
Reading your child's text messages is not that different than eavesdropping or reading their diary.” She advises parents to stay in their lane by steering clear of needless snooping, whether trying to find out what your kids are saying or who they are hanging out with.