Why you should (and shouldn’t) get your teen a smartphone this Christmas

Oh, man. The time has come. Your teen has asked you for a phone for Christmas. Do you cave? Do you trust your kid to be smart with their newfound power? What is a good starter phone to get your teen? There’s a lot to consider as a parent when it comes to this request – these are just a few things to think about when making this tough call…pun not intended.

Person using a smartphone
Rob Hampson

Pros

Okay, you have made the decision to go ahead and give your child the freedom of a cell phone. Did you make the right decision? Probably. Here are some good reasons to give your teen a phone.

They can get ahold of you

If your teen is starting to go out on their own, a cell phone is a smart purchase. They can get ahold of you (even though they probably won’t text you back), and you can track them to see if they really are at the mall with their friend.

Social media can be a good thing

Yes, social media can be evil, but it can also be so much fun if used properly. There are so many cool apps that can actually teach your kids things. TikTok is basically teaching everyone all over the world things we should know to keep ourselves alive.

Cons

But it goes without saying that more responsibility comes with more chances to make mistakes.

Teens are smart

Kids are so smart. They can pull things over on you that you won’t even be aware of. If you give them complete free rein with a cell phone, you could get into some trouble. Or they can.

Social media can be a bad thing

Yes, double-edged sword and all of that. Social media can portray so many false ideas of how people live their lives. You need to have some serious conversations with your teen before you give them the whole world at their fingertips.

What phones to check out

iPhone

Obviously the first choice for your teen is going to be an iPhone. But which one to start with? For your kid’s first phone, we suggest getting one a little bit older. An iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 would be good starters. You can get a refurbished iPhone 7 for $150-$200 and an iPhone 8 for $200-$250.

You know all of the features you get with an iPhone. From the amazing camera to the unlimited apps, iPhone are unending, addictive fun.

Nokia 3310

If you want something a bit more old-school, something a little closer to what you had as one of your first phones, then the Nokia 3310 is a good fit. You know Nokia has been around since the dawn of cell-phone time. If you want your teen to have something a little less flashy, harder to break, and a better battery, then a Nokia is what you want.

Light Phone II by Light

Okay this one is for a teen who maybe needs to only be able to make calls and that’s it. This phone has a great battery that can last for days, so your teen can’t use the old my-phone-died trick. You cannot get on the internet on this phone. Which means no social media. If you have a teen struggling with being on their phone too much, or you aren’t ready for your teen to be exposed to all of that quite yet, this phone is perfect.

Two teenage girls sitting next to each other
Matheus Ferrero

Fun apps

If you do get your teen a phone with internet access, there are some great apps they should get. Besides your basic Facebook and Insta to stay in touch with family, you should look for some others.

Pandora/Spotify

If your teen loves music, make sure you give them a music app, such as Pandora or Spotify. You can check their playlists to make sure they aren’t listening to anything you don’t want them to.

SketchBook Pro

If you have a creative child, this free app will help them get some of their creativity out. Creating fun artworks and drawings with this app can keep your teen off other apps you don’t want them on.

Scholly

If your teen is about to enter the world of college (deep breath — it’s okay), then Scholly would be great. They are going to be on their phone all of the time anyway, so they might as well put it to good use and find themselves some college scholarship money.

Remember parents, this is a decision you need to make seriously and thoughtfully. Giving your teen that much freedom and responsibility is the next step to adulthood for them.

We know it’s a big deal, and we know it will be a struggle at first. Set ground rules to make sure your teen isn’t on their phone when you don’t want them to, and that they aren’t doing things on their phone you won’t approve of.

Also, don’t be afraid to friend request them on every platform. It’s one of the perks to be able to troll your child on social media.

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