Saturday, 30 January 2021 17:15

App developer shares tips: What you need to know about giving your child their first phone

Image of kids from Pixabay, Elegant Media logo and iPhone image from Elegant Media's site Image of kids from Pixabay, Elegant Media logo and iPhone image from Elegant Media's site

With the school holidays now over, and back to school now the new reality, at least in Australia where the COVID-19 threat is almost non-existent, a whole stack of kids will be getting their first smartphone - but what should you know before you give them one?

As I noted in my article about the TCL and Alcatel smartphones being suggested by those sister companies as great devices for kids getting their first smartphone, it's important to make sure that, as a parent, you use all of the modern tools at your disposal to keep your children safe.

I also linked to a great Australian parenting website that I found with a simple online search about "Responsible mobile phone use for children and teenagers" that is definitely worth your time to read, and there are TONS of other great resources out there.

There's also the advice that popped into my inbox from Elegant Media, a highly rated Australian add and software development company, who is wisely using the concept of creating worthy content and sharing it with tech news sites in an attempt to get some free publicity. 

Well, it worked - the advice from Anushka Bandara, the CEO of Elegant Media, is timely, and by all reports online, Elegant Media is a great app development company, although if you want to use their services in the creation of your own app, you'll need to do your own research.

So, what does Bandara advise?

He starts off by noting that school students across the country are farewelling another year of summer school holidays, finding their school uniforms again, and packing their new mobile phones in their backpacks ahead of a new school year.

Bandara added: "Safety is the number one reason that parents are sending their children back to the classroom with a mobile phone in-hand, however it is important to stress that these devices come with their own series of risks.

“Giving your child their first mobile phone shouldn’t be a decision made lightly. There are a lot of factors to consider when taking the plunge, so I have answered the most burning questions from parents with kids who have, or are about to have their own mobile phone."

He then poses some questions which he answers, and which I've reprinted below.

When is the right time to give my child their first phone?

According to Bandara, there really are no concrete rules for when is the right time to give a mobile phone to your child.

“It really does vary child-to-child. While most children have been using devices like tablets and iPads for years, stepping it up to a personal mobile device does feel like a big step for a number of parents,” Bandara explained.

“The transition for primary school into high school is a relatively socially acceptable time for parents to gift their children a mobile phone, however there are certainly a number of other factors you, as a parent, can consider before gifting your child a mobile.”

  • Is your child mature enough? If they experience something they are not sure about, or if they are distressed, will they come to you for support?
  • Are they responsible? Will they be able to stick to the rules that you put in place for them?
  • Are they willing to listen and be receptive to your rules? If they are in a developmental phase of pushing boundaries and fighting instructions, maybe it is not the best time.

What phone is an appropriate first phone?

Smartphones without a doubt, according to Bandara.

“Parents are often shocked when I recommend smartphones as a great first phone. ‘My child only needs to text and call’ and ‘I don’t want my child to have access to the internet at all times of the day’ are the most common arguments from parents getting their children a phone that does not connect to the internet, but these certainly have some shortfalls,” Bandara emphasised.

“I recommend smartphones as a child’s first phone for a number of reasons. Firstly, if your child is in danger they are unlikely to be able to text or call, so location access is important. Also, parental controls are incredibly advanced in today’s age, so with a smartphone you can still limit your child’s access to the internet and Apps – it is the best of both worlds.

What parental controls are available on my child’s phone?

“With parental controls you can block or limit specific Apps and features on your child’s phone. All smartphones have some degree of parental controls, which are easy to use and put the power in the parents’ hands, even when the device is in the child’s,” Bandara added.

According to Bandara, Apple iPhones have the most comprehensive parental controls on the market. Parents can enforce the highest privacy settings on Apple devices in the Screen Time settings, including:

  • Preventing iTunes and App Store purchases. As well as, preventing your child from making in-App purchases and deleting any Apps downloaded by the parent.
  • Prevent explicit content and content ratings for Books, News, Music, Apps, TV Shows and Movies. These can be filtered by specific ratings.
  • Filter and limit website content on Safari and Siri.
  • Restrict Game Centre, including multiplayer games and screen recordings.

“Android devices also have a number of parental control options. Google Play puts parents in control of their child’s devices by restricting App downloads,” Bandara said.

“Find My Friends is also an incredible feature on Apple devices that allows parents to see the location of their child’s phones whenever the device is turned on. A number of Apps are also available on the App Store and Google Play, which gives parents even more control from a far.”

And that's where Bandara's advice ends, with Elegant Media reminding us that it is a "full service mobile app development and software solutions provider for businesses, government and entrepreneurs", having completed hundreds of mobile apps, with ISO, Google and Apple accreditation.

No doubt they hope some enterprising people and companies out there will want apps made, and enterprising parents too, who want to create apps for kids and all age groups to use, bringing whatever their great idea is to life.

Good luck!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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