What age should a kid get a phone?

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Getting your kid a phone can be a huge milestone in their life–a symbol of independence and a step toward adulthood (cue “Cat’s in the Cradle”). But at what age should they get a phone? You have to assess your own child’s maturity level and sense of responsibility to answer that question. Are they frequently on the go between various activities and a phone would help you keep in touch? Or are they constantly losing expensive items and can’t be trusted with an important device just yet?

While the average kid typically gets their first phone between the ages of 12 to 14 (according to Pew Research Center*), ultimately it’s up to the parent to decide when their child is ready. Read on for tips on why kids should get a phone, the best phones for them and how to encourage saving for one.

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Why kids should have phones

There are many good reasons to consider getting your child a cell phone:

  • Safety: A phone allows your kid to get in touch with you – and you with them – if there’s an emergency or some other urgent matter.
  • Convenience: Is soccer practice running late? Did your kid forget their bassoon at home? Now they can send a text letting you know.
  • Responsibility: Phones are a great tool for teaching kids responsibility – they not only learn to take care of the phone itself but also to monitor data usage within the phone plan you purchase for them.
  • Education: While not everything on the internet is educational (the biggest understatement ever), smartphones do give kids access to a wealth of information, from language apps to YouTube tutorials that can help with their math homework. And cat videos.

What’s the best phone for kids?

Now that you’re (potentially) convinced of some of the benefits of having a phone, the biggest question on your mind might be: what is the best phone for kids? Or, if you have a teenager, what phones for teens are best?

If your child is on the younger side, a more durable (and less expensive) phone is probably the best option. You may also want one that offers parental controls and/or GPS to help find your kid’s phone (or, heck, even your kid) if lost. Our phone store has plenty of options for every budget (and every kid), plus we’re always offering different phone deals, but here are a few of our top picks:

  • iPhone SE (3rd generation): Inexpensive yet with the same processor as the iPhone 13, the iPhone SE is a great kids’ phone thanks to its price and parent-friendly features like Screen Time controls and Family Sharing.
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G: This entry-level Samsung device (with pricing to match) is an excellent first phone with robust battery life.
  • Google Pixel 6A: This starter Google device offers many of the same features as higher-end models at a more affordable rate and also comes with Google’s Family Link.
  • Motorola G Pure: Another inexpensive option, the Motorola G Pure is a popular starter phone with basic features perfect for younger kids.

Once you’ve picked your phone, it’s time to figure out the best phone plan for your kids (the parenting duties never end).

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How to help kids save for a phone

Just as owning a phone teaches kids responsibility, so too does encouraging constructive money habits like saving a certain amount each month or skipping unnecessary spending (like micro-transactions on Fortnite) to buy one.

Here are a few ways to encourage kids to save:

  • Set a savings goal and timeline: Establishing a tangible goal (like a phone) and a specific timeframe in which to achieve it is a great way to motivate kids to save–in fact, studies** have shown that setting a goal is key to successful saving.
  • Help them track their progress: This is where a company like GoHenry can help. GoHenry is a kid-friendly debit card (available for kids aged 6-18) with an app that helps track their spending. Kids can save for something specific (and parents can track what they’re purchasing), which is an awesome way for them to see opportunity costs. For example, spending too much on something like video games takes away from a child’s phone savings; while reducing costs (by, say, switching to a wireless company that offers plans for just $15/mo), allows them to put that money toward something else. And as a parent, you can also offer advice based on what your kid seems to spend the most money on.
  • Make learning about money fun: This is another beneficial GoHenry feature: “Money Missions” on everything from banking basics to borrowing and credit gamification so your kid can earn points and level up while they learn. GoHenry’s debit cards also allow for customization, enabling kids to add their nickname and pick from a ton of unique card designs.
  • Set an example: According to a study✝ from the University of Cambridge, money habits are largely formed by the age of 7. If you want your child to have good spending and saving habits, you need to model them yourself. You may even want to share your own spending and saving goals and how you’re working toward them.

So when your kid is ready (with a GoHenry debit card and their first phone in hand), why not also add them to your Mint Family plan?

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*https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/07/28/parenting-children-in-the-age-of-screens/

**https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/07/28/parenting-children-in-the-age-of-screens/

✝ https://mascdn.azureedge.net/cms/the-money-advice-service-habit-formation-and-learning-in-young-children-may2013.pdf