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Buying your child a mobile for Christmas? 5 top tips to follow

A parenting expert advises how to navigate the process

mobile phone
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
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With Christmas coming, you may be considering buying your child or teenager their first mobile phone. Deciding on the right time and age to do this can be tricky and varies from family to family.

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To help guide parents through the options, SMARTY Mobile has teamed up with parenting expert Anita Cleare to share five top tips on buying your child's first phone.


Anita says: "If the time is right for your child’s first mobile phone, keep it safe and simple." She adds: "You will want to put some rules in place around their phone use but be prepared to adapt over time – the way your child uses their phone will change, so be flexible and keep the dialogue open."

Five tips for buying your child's first mobile phone

Think about offering your child a phone on a trial basis

"This gives your child a chance to show they can be responsible and it gives you a chance to work out how they are going to use it and what rules you might need to have in place around their phone use. A SIM-only deal which is flexible and can be cancelled at any time is really useful for this."

Make sure you can contact them at all times

"If the main reason you are giving your child a phone is so they can get in touch with you in an emergency, make sure they have unlimited calls and texts so there is no danger of them running out of credit or racking up a huge, unexpected bill. Knowing that they can always contact you provides safety and reassurance."

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Find a plan that fits your family’s lifestyle

"It’s hard to predict how children will use their phone if they’ve never had one before. Some children put it in their bag and hardly touch it while others are non-stop chatting and cat videos that burn through data.

"And the way children use their phones can change almost overnight as they change schools or take up new activities. So don’t tie yourself into a long contract that won’t be suitable for long or won’t adapt to their changing needs."

Start off with a simple phone

"Children lose things and drop things. Don’t set them up to fail (and set yourself up for stress!) by giving them the most expensive latest model. Start off with a hand me down or cheap second-hand phone. If they want to upgrade to something fancier, older kids could do jobs around the house to save up for themselves (a great way to help them learn the value of money!).

"Children learn to be responsible through practice, so start them off with a simple phone and there will be fewer arguments over broken screens and a lot less stress for you."

Look for value

"When looking for a SIM, minimise the hassle by looking for a brand that is great value all year round rather than a too-good-to-be-true seasonal deal. Transparency is key and you want to be sure there are no hidden costs and no surprise bills.

"Look to a Which? approved brand like SMARTY, so you can be confident of great value, honesty and no nasty surprises."

With Christmas fast approaching, SMARTY is offering 30GB a month for £10. All plans include unlimited calls & texts to standard UK landlines and mobiles, and roaming within EU countries (up to 12GB).

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