First steps.
First haircut.
First day of school.

First phone. Are your kids ready?


Life is full of firsts. As you try to decide if it’s time for another,

know that we’re here to help.

 
 
 

First phones for kids are the new milestone

It used to be that getting your driver’s license was the signifying moment when freedom and the race toward growing up started. Times have changed and thanks to an ever-evolving world of iEverything, the timeline has accelerated—having a phone to call your own is the new first step toward independence. One that’s happening earlier and earlier among American families.
What age do kids get smartphones?What age do kids get smartphones?What age do kids get smartphones?
10.3 years old
Avg. age kids in the USA
get a smartphone
64% of kids
Already have internet
access via a personal tablet
or laptop
1 in 2 kids
Number of kids with a
social media account by
age 12
So what about your family? Has the topic of first phones come up? Are you battling a constant plea for a phone because a classmate has one? Are other parents asking you about it? Is it a topic on television and in parenting blogs you read? It seems that no matter where you turn, the conversation about giving kids a first phone is everywhere. But regardless of what forces or factors may be influencing you (or trying to) to take this step, this is a choice you have to be comfortable with.

For some additional information about deciding when the time is right, check out healthychildren.org’s Cell Phones: What’s the right age to start?

video
Katie Hurley, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Happy Kid Handbook talks about the initial consideration phases of giving kids their first phones.

For some additional information about deciding when the time is right, check out healthychildren.org’s Cell Phones: What’s the right age to start?

  • Deciding if your child is ready for a phone

    You may think your child is ready for a phone or you may think it’s too soon.
    Take this quiz to see how
    ready your child really is.

    Take the quiz

  • Question 1

    Does your child need a
    phone to stay in touch?


    Things to consider:
    • Does your child walk home from school?
    • Does he or she ever get home before you do?
    • Does your family have lots of activities to coordinate on a regular basis?
  • Question 2

    Does your child
    break things often?


    Things to consider:
    • Is your child careless with his or her belongings?
    • Does your child respect things that belong to others?
    • Would he or she understand that replacing a phone would cost money?
  • Question 3

    Is your child
    honest with you?


    Things to consider:
    • Does your child ever try to lie to you?
    • Do you ever catch your child deliberately breaking rules and trying to get away with it?
    • Is there a level of trust between you and your child that you can rely on?
  • Question 4

    Does your child understand
    how to behave online?


    Things to consider:
    • Does he or she understand online social etiquette and what cyberbullying is?
    • Does your child understand what types of content are inappropriate?
    • Does your child understand “stranger-danger” and would he or she realize that this applies online as much as it does in real life?
  • Question 5

    Is your child mature enough to
    handle the freedoms a
    phone would provide?


    Things to consider:
    • Does your child become obsessive about video games and other tech?
    • Are you concerned he or she would become obsessive about a phone?
    • Would he or she respect rules and limitations you set regarding phone use?
  • Great news! It sounds like your kiddo might be ready for a phone of his or her own.

    Just to make sure it’s really the right time, check out more of the content below for further insights about kids and first-phone ownership.

    Retake the quiz

    We think you may want to consider waiting a little bit.

    A first phone is a big step for kids—one you only want to take when they’re ready for it. Check out more of the content on this site so you’ll be able to tell when your child is ready for this next step.

    Retake the quiz

Doing your homework:
Ready vs. not ready for a phone

Safety, security, and peace of mind

One reason you might decide it’s the right time to give your kids a phone is because it can help provide a level of safety and security. If your kids walk to and from school or to after-school activities without an adult, equipping them with a phone means they can always call if plans change, if they need a ride for some reason, or if there’s an emergency.

Responsibility

So how do you know if your child is responsible enough to handle having a phone? If your child is generally good at taking care of his or her things and at respecting items in your home, this may not be an area of concern. If your child tends to be careless with belongings or things that belong to others, then maybe it’s not quite the right time for a first phone.

Of course, accidents do happen and phones do sometimes take an unexpected tumble onto a hard surface or dive (see: drop) into an open toilet. The good news is that there are a variety of cases designed to be extra tough to help protect a phone in even the clumsiest of hands.

video
See what Katie Hurley, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Happy Kid Handbook, has to say about how to tell if your kids are responsible enough to handle a phone of their own.

Of course, accidents do happen and phones do sometimes take an unexpected tumble onto a hard surface or dive (see: drop) into an open toilet. The good news is that there are a variety of cases designed to be extra tough to help protect a phone in even the clumsiest of hands.

66%

of parents feel their kids spend too much time on their phones, and 52% of kids agree

– common sense media

66% of parents feel their kids spend too much time on their phones, and 52% of kids agree

Maturity

If you’re going to give your child a phone, he or she should be mature enough to follow your rules for using it. For children who have trouble with rules, a phone could become another opportunity to disobey limitations you’ve set. Some parents also worry that their kids are developing a “tech obsession,” and fear the addition of a phone would further the problem.

A first phone could also be an opportunity for your child to prove him or herself. Set guidelines around phone usage and see how it goes. If you’re wondering where to start, check out Aha! Parenting’s The first cell phone: Rules for responsibility—it’s a great resource if you just need a little help figuring out where to start.

66%

of parents feel their kids spend too much time on their phones, and 52% of kids agree

– common sense media

video
Let Katie Hurley, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Happy Kid Handbook, help you evaluate children’s maturity levels when considering buying a phone.
Agree on the rules from the start:
Download our Parent-Child Mobile Phone Contract
Download >Download >
Online behavior

Because of all the things phones can do, they’re more than just a way to check in. Before giving a phone to your child, make sure there’s an understanding about how to conduct one’s self online.

Click on the topics below to better understand some important factors surrounding online behavior.

  • Inappropriate content
    If your kids already have access to online content and social media via a family or school computer or tablet, ask questions about what they’re already seeing, reading, playing, etc. on the devices within these controlled environments. Make sure you’re comfortable with what they’re already doing online, because a phone makes accessing content much easier to do without supervision. For some helpful tips on managing what your child sees online, check out The United States Department of Justice’s article, Children internet safety.
  • Online reputation
    Everything your child does online becomes a personal reflection. Establish rules with your kids about being on social networks, taking pictures, sharing certain types of content, and safe texting. Explain that while a communication sent between two people might seem like a private matter, texts and photos can very easily be forwarded and shared—sometimes creating irreversible damage to your child or other children. If you need a little help talking to your kids about the importance of protecting their online reputation, check out American Academy of Pediatrics’ Talking to kids and teens about social media and sexting.
  • Cyberbullying
    Kids can be mean. It’s a fact. And it becomes far easier to be cruel when faceless from behind a phone. Make sure it’s understood that cyberbullying is still bullying and that text messages and comments on social media should never be sent or made with the intention of making somebody else feel bad. Need help understanding cyberbullying so you can explain it to your kids? Or need help handling it? Check out HelpGuide.org’s Dealing with cyberbullying.
Inappropriate content

Inappropriate content


If your kids already have access to online content and social media via a family or school computer or tablet, ask questions about what they’re already seeing, reading, playing, etc. on the devices within these controlled environments. Make sure you’re comfortable with what they’re already doing online, because a phone makes accessing content much easier to do without supervision. For some helpful tips on managing what your child sees online, check out The United States Department of Justice’s article, Children internet safety.

Online reputation

Online reputation


Everything your child does online becomes a personal reflection. Establish rules with your kids about being on social networks, taking pictures, sharing certain types of content, and safe texting. Explain that while a communication sent between two people might seem like a private matter, texts and photos can very easily be forwarded and shared—sometimes creating irreversible damage to your child or other children. If you need a little help talking to your kids about the importance of protecting their online reputation, check out American Academy of Pediatrics’ Talking to kids and teens about social media and sexting.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying


Kids can be mean. It’s a fact. And it becomes far easier to be cruel when faceless from behind a phone. Make sure it’s understood that cyberbullying is still bullying and that text messages and comments on social media should never be sent or made with the intention of making somebody else feel bad. Need help understanding cyberbullying so you can explain it to your kids? Or need help handling it? Check out HelpGuide.org’s Dealing with cyberbullying.

Online safety for kidsIf you’ve already taught your kids about “stranger danger,” explain that the same rules apply online. Make sure your kids understand they should only be communicating with people they know. You could go as far as to tell them they can only communicate with people you also know, and with people they have first met in real life. From behind a phone, it is very easy for people to pretend to be someone they are not.

You also want to make sure your kids do not share their location online—either intentionally or because they’re using location-sharing apps. You can help safeguard against this by disabling location tracking on certain apps and making sure you approve of the apps being downloaded to make sure they’re safe.

94 out of 100kids

won’t accept a friend request
from a stranger

BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat
video
Psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Happy Kid Handbook, Katie Hurley discusses children and the importance of online safety.
94 out of 100kids

won’t accept a friend request
from a stranger
– BBC Radio 1’s Newcast

Benefits that come with a kid’s first phone.

There are certainly valid reasons not to give kids a phone before they’re ready, but there are also some great benefits once the time is right.

Safety & security
A huge benefit of giving your child a phone is the added safety and security it can provide. The features on many phones allow you to track the device via GPS, letting you see where your kids are at any given time (provided the phone is with them). And with a phone in hand, kids have the ability to call or text you in case of an emergency. Want to know more about how phones can help kids stay safe? Check out kidsinthehouse.com’s How cell phones can keep kids safe, a video by child safety expert, Marc Klaas.

Improved communication
A phone provides kids and parents with an additional method of communicating with one another—one that your child may find easier than face-to-face conversations that can come off as being lectured or can escalate into arguments. Psychologist Yalda T. Uhls says, “If I want to share a parenting lesson with [my son], I find he will more easily read a text rather than listen to me tell him the exact same thing face to face. It gives him time to absorb the substance of the words rather than tune out my voice.” Find out more of the ways communication has improved between Yalda and her son in her Huffington Post article, Did I buy my son’s phone for me or for him?

Education & access to information

With a smartphone, kids instantly have more information in the palm of their hands than could fit into 100 textbooks— and the content is always growing and evolving, providing little learners with an endless resource. Kids can look things up in the moment to answer homework questions, use education-based apps to assist with almost any school subject, and even download flashcard apps to help improve vocabulary and math skills.

Additionally, many teachers are now allowing smartphones in the classroom, utilizing them as a teaching aid instead of treating them as a classroom distraction.

According to parents of kids who use a phone to access educational media:

38% of kids

access educational
content on a
phone at least
once a week
36% of the time

amount of time
spent on a phone
vs. other platforms
for educational
purposes
39% of parents

feel their child has
gained knowledge
across all subjects
via a phone

An entertainment outlet
Just like adults, kids need time to themselves where they can just relax and do something fun. With a smartphone, kids can listen to music to help them de-stress, play games that can help enhance cognitive learning and motor skills, and watch movies and shows that can keep them occupied at times when you need to focus on other things.
video
Learn about the ways smartphones help kids find personal time to relax and be happy from Katie Hurley, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Happy Kid Handbook.

Benefits that come with a kid’s first phone.

There are certainly valid reasons not to give kids a phone before they’re ready, but there are also some great benefits once the time is right.

Safety & security

A huge benefit of giving your child a phone is the added safety and security it can provide. The features on many phones allow you to track the device via GPS, letting you see where your kids are at any given time (provided the phone is with them). And with a phone in hand, kids have the ability to call or text you in case of an emergency. Want to know more about how phones can help kids stay safe? Check out kidsinthehouse.com’s How cell phones can keep kids safe, a video by child safety expert, Marc Klaas.

Improved communication

A phone provides kids and parents with an additional method of communicating with one another—one that your child may find easier than face-to-face conversations that can come off as being lectured or can escalate into arguments. Psychologist Yalda T. Uhls says, “If I want to share a parenting lesson with [my son], I find he will more easily read a text rather than listen to me tell him the exact same thing face to face. It gives him time to absorb the substance of the words rather than tune out my voice.” Find out more of the ways communication has improved between Yalda and her son in her Huffington Post article, Did I buy my son’s phone for me or for him?

Education & access to information

With a smartphone, kids instantly have more information in the palm of their hands than could fit into 100 textbooks— and the content is always growing and evolving, providing little learners with an endless resource. Kids can look things up in the moment to answer homework questions, use education-based apps to assist with almost any school subject, and even download flashcard apps to help improve vocabulary and math skills.

Additionally, many teachers are now allowing smartphones in the classroom, utilizing them as a teaching aid instead of treating them as a classroom distraction.

According to parents of kids who use a phone to access educational media:

  • 38% of kids
    access educational content on a phone at least once a week
  • 36% of the time
    amount of time spent on a phone vs. other platforms for educational purposes
  • 39% of parents
    feel their child has gained knowledge across all subjects via a phone

An entertainment outlet

Just like adults, kids need time to themselves where they can just relax and do something fun. With a smartphone, kids can listen to music to help them de-stress, play games that can help enhance cognitive learning and motor skills, and watch movies and shows that can keep them occupied at times when you need to focus on other things.

Learn about the ways smartphones help kids find personal time to relax and be happy from Katie Hurley, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Happy Kid Handbook.

Who’s the boss? You are.

Apps that keep parents in charge.
Deciding to give your child a phone doesn’t mean you’re giving up control. In addition to the control functions different operating systems come with, we’ve designed a family of phone-monitoring apps specifically geared toward helping parents stay in touch with their kids and monitor their phone usage.

Click on an app to learn exactly what it can do.

Sprint Mobile Controls
Sprint Mobile Controls lets parents take charge by easily letting you manage how your child uses his or her phone.

  • Automatically block or limit phone usage to certain times like during school, during family time, or after bedtime
  • Get daily updates about when and how often your kids are calling and texting
  • See who your kids have been calling and texting
  • See what apps your kids have downloaded
  • In just a single click, block texts, calls and apps you’re not comfortable with
  • Available for Android devices

Sprint Family Locator
Sprint Family Locator provides peace of mind because it allows you to track up to five devices—letting you easily see where family members are at all times.

  • Locate any phone on your Sprint account—both smartphones and feature phones
  • Track kids’ phones in real time on an interactive map from your phone or computer
  • Use the Family Locator app to locate a lost or stolen phone
  • Get check-in alerts when your family members arrive at designated locations, as well as an alert letting you know they did not arrive
  • Available for Apple and Android devices

Sprint Drive First
Perfect for new drivers, Sprint Drive First helps keep your kids safe by stopping distracted driving and keeping the focus to the road.

  • Once travelling over certain speeds, phones with Drive First are locked, silencing calls and audible alerts
  • To help avoid the temptation to take calls or text while driving, incoming calls are directed to voicemail and automatic text replies are sent on the driver’s behalf
  • Emergency numbers and select VIP contacts (like family members) can still be contacted
  • Once driving is no longer detected, the Sprint Drive First app automatically unlocks and restores phone functionality
  • Available for Android devices

FamilyWall for Sprint℠
Simplify family life and help everyone stay connected with this all-in-one social app that lets families privately connect, share and stay organized.

  • Send messages, pictures, video, and audio privately to one or several members of your Wall
  • Organize family life with a shared online calendar, shopping lists, customizable task lists and more
  • Share contacts or locations and view when family members check in
  • Upload and view photos in a sharable album viewable only by those you’ve authorized
  • Available for Apple and Android devices

Who’s the boss? You are.
Apps that keep parents in charge

Deciding to give your child a phone doesn’t mean you’re giving up control. In addition to the control functions different operating systems come with, we’ve designed a family of phone-monitoring apps specifically geared toward helping parents stay in touch with their kids and monitor their phone usage.

  • Sprint Family Locator

    Sprint Family Locator provides peace of mind because it allows you to track up to five devices—letting you easily see where family members are at all times.

    • Locate any phone on your Sprint account—both smartphones and feature phones
    • Track kids’ phones in real time on an interactive map from your phone or computer
    • Use the Family Locator app to locate a lost or stolen phone
    • Get check-in alerts when your family members arrive at designated locations, as well as an alert letting you know they did not arrive
    • Available for Apple and Android devices

  • Sprint Mobile Controls

    Sprint Mobile Controls lets parents take charge by easily letting you manage how your child uses his or her phone.

    • Automatically block or limit phone usage to certain times like during school, during family time, or after bedtime
    • Get daily updates about when and how often your kids are calling and texting
    • See who your kids have been calling and texting
    • See what apps your kids have downloaded
    • In just a single click, block texts, calls and apps you’re not comfortable with
    • Available for Android devices

  • Sprint Drive First

    Perfect for new drivers, Sprint Drive First helps keep your kids safe by stopping distracted driving and keeping the focus to the road.

    • Once travelling over certain speeds, phones with Drive First are locked, silencing calls and audible alerts
    • To help avoid the temptation to take calls or text while driving, incoming calls are directed to voicemail and automatic text replies are sent on the driver’s behalf
    • Emergency numbers and select VIP contacts (like family members) can still be contacted
    • Once driving is no longer detected, the Sprint Drive First app automatically unlocks and restores phone functionality
    • Available for Android devices

  • FamilyWall for Sprint℠

    Simplify family life and help everyone stay connected with this all-in-one social app that lets families privately connect, share and stay organized.

    • Send messages, pictures, video, and audio privately to one or several members of your Wall
    • Organize family life with a shared online calendar, shopping lists, customizable task lists and more
    • Share contacts or locations and view when family members check in
    • Upload and view photos in a sharable album viewable only by those you’ve authorized
    • Available for Apple and Android devices

Picking the best phone for your child

If you’ve decided your child is ready for a phone, the next step is actually picking one.
Before you get into specific features, consider these main factors by clicking on the left/right arrows below:

Help other kids connect: The 1Million Project

As you’re considering a new phone for your own child, we’d like to ask that you consider helping one of the millions of less fortunate kids across America by donating an old phone, tablet or mobile hotspot that your family is no longer using to our 1Million Project. All makes and models are accepted, regardless of carrier or condition.
The 1Million Project will help change the lives of 1 million high school students who don’t have a reliable source of internet access at home. Sprint will use the proceeds from reselling or recycling your donated devices to provide new ones to disadvantaged students across the country. Sprint will also provide free wireless connectivity so that 1 million low-income high school-age students can stay on track in school.

Learn more about the 1Million Project at sprint.com/1millionproject.

video
Learn about Sprint’s 1Million Project and how it will help students without the Internet in their homes to access the information they need to reach their full potential.
The 1Million Project will help change the lives of 1 million high school students who don’t have a reliable source of internet access at home. Sprint will use the proceeds from reselling or recycling your donated devices to provide new ones to disadvantaged students across the country. Sprint will also provide free wireless connectivity so that 1 million low-income high school-age students can stay on track in school.

Learn more about the 1Million Project at sprint.com/1millionproject.

Here’s what’s next:

Already a Sprint customer?

If your kiddo is ready for a phone, adding a line to your account is the next step.

Not a Sprint customer?

We’d love to have you as a customer if you’re ready to give your child a phone.

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