Buying your Tween’s First Phone – What To Know

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The time has come.  Your child is no longer interested in dolls, Barbies, race cars, or Pogo sticks.  Now, s/he is asking for a phone.  Raising your child is about to get a bit more expensive.  

Benefits of  Your Tween’s First Phone

Giving your child a phone is beneficial in a number of ways.  First, it greatly enhances communication.  If you’re going to be late to pick your child up from school, you can let him/her know.  If you separate while shopping, you can find each other more easily.

You can track where your child is by the GPS on their phone.  You can connect with your child more easily via their phone when you are traveling.  And you most likely will find that your child is more likely to open up through texting than face-to-face!


Why A Hand-Me-Down Phone Is Not The Best Option



Once you’ve established that your child is responsible enough to manage a phone, it’s time to start looking for one.  Many parents think about giving their child their phone so they can upgrade to the latest version.  I don’t recommend doing this for a couple of reasons:

  1. Since this is likely the first item of major value your childhas been put in charge of, it’s better to start of with a lower cost phone.  This is because…
    • Kids can be accident-prone and drop the phone.  I’ve seen numerous tweens/teens with phones that have cracked screens.  
    • For the most part, kids haven’t had to worry about theft from their locker or backpack before, as they have never owned anything valuable enough that someone would want to take.  They may forget at times to take precautions to ensure it’s not stolen.
    • Kids can easily misplace things.  I know at our house we’ve had a couple of cases where a child has forgotten their phone at our home.  What if this happens at school or the library?  Chances are it won’t be returned.
  2. The number one thing kids use phones for are for texting.   The second is probably pictures.  A less expensive phone can take care of these items.  
  3. It teaches children appreciation.  If your child starts off with one of the best phone available, s/he won’t appreciate it as much as a child who starts with a more basic phone, and with demonstrated responsibility, receives a better featured phone.
  4. It keeps your child grounded.  Like with adults, phones are a status symbol.  Every kid wants to own one of the latest phones.  Apple phones seem to be the most coveted.  Giving your child what s/he wants so s/he can be a “cool” kid will only encourage him/her to seek out status symbols to improve their social standing.  Help your child not play into these games by giving him/her the phone s/he needs, not wants.


Considerations in Buying Your Tween’s First Phone

Before you buy your tween’s first phone, there are a number of things you should consider.

What’s the Plan?

Your child is going to send A LOT of texts.  The average American teen sends 3,339 texts a month.  Texting is probably something you never worried about before, but now you must.  Ensure your plan has unlimited texting to avoid overage fees.

What about data?  Tweens/teens love to watch videos on their phone.  YouTube is the number one site where people search for video…even more than Google!  Why?  People like to see the latest movie trailer, a favorite band playing, how to up-do your long hair or advance further in a video game or app.  Expect your data usage to soar with your child at the helm of his/her new device.

Look up the details and conditions on your plan.  Are you well-versed on:

  • how many minutes a month you have and use?  Will this need to be adjusted now that your child will have a phone?
  • does your plan include rollover minutes?
  • what is the exact timing of free weekend minutes – when do they start and end?
  • Take advantage of free unlimited minutes between users of the same carrier.  Are most of your child’s friends on the same carrier?

Look at your available plans.  A family plan might work best for you or if you’re worried about the amount of texts and data you’re child will use, you might look into a prepaid plan for him/her.

Make your child equally responsible for his/her phone usage.  Teach him/her how to check their minutes to ensure s/he does not incur overage charges.  If your child abuses this, tell him/her s/he will need to pay for anything over the set amount.  This won’t be a problem with a prepaid cellphone.  Once the minutes/data of a prepaid plan are used up, there’s no more coverage until the next month.


Parental Controls

Thankfully, there are tools available to limit your child’s use of phone hours, ability to download apps, restrict harmful websites, and more.  Think about it, would your child be able to resist a cookie jar full of cookies if you weren’t around?  The same is true for the cellphone.  They will need help in adhering to the limits you set.

Verizon helps to make it easier for parents by offering a number of controls and monitoring features.

In addition, to help steer your child clear of possible issues, consider some type of parental monitoring apps.


The Importance of Privacy

Teach your kid about being careful in giving out private data…on their social channels or when filling out information in registering for an app.  They should never associate their school, city, phone number birth date, or address in their online communication.

Ensure your child uses a password to lock up their phone when not in use.  This will keep prying eyes away and ensures another child doesn’t use your child’s accounts to send harmful messages.  Your child should tell you the password and keep you updated when s/he changes it.


GPS Tracking

Ensure  your child’s phone has GPS tracking on it, and make sure that it’s turned on.  This helps in several ways:

  1. You can track where your child is should you become separated, or just want to ensure s/he is where s/he said she’d be
  2. It helps you track the phone should your child misplace it
  3. It can provide your teen with directions on how to get home if driving somewhere and s/he gets lost


Cellphone Contract

Before  giving your child his/her first phone, create a contract to have him/her sign.  In the contract state the hours s/he can use the phone, where the phone needs to be charged each night, any limits you have.  Make it clear that the phone belongs to the parents, not the child.  You are legally responsible for the phone, as you will be providing the cellphone coverage for it.  You reserve the right to check the phone at any time.

See our article on Parental Advice Before Giving Your Child a Phone to help you prepare your child for his/her first phone.


A cellphone is a great responsibility for your child.  It opens a whole new world for him/her that provides all sorts of opportunity, entertainment, and possible harm.  Getting your child involved in the details of your phone plan also helps him/her to understand contracts and financial obligations.  And lastly, it can open up a whole new line of communication you never had with your child before through the use of text, soon-to-be your child’s native language!


Need Help Finding the Right Phone?


Cellular Sales store

Buying your tween’s first phone doesn’t need to be a daunting task.  Visit Verizon’s Premium Retailer, Cellular Sales for convenient mobile help assistance.  With the encroaching holidays, most cellular stores will be packed.  Take the stress and wait time off by booking a time to meet with a Cellular Sales representative, that’s convenient for you.

Cellular Sales is known for their personal customer service and desire to patiently help their customers make the right phone choices.  Cellular Sales has approximately 545 stores across the country and can handle any Verizon customer questions and plan changes, while offering the latest cellphones and tablets available.

Save Time, Schedule an Appointment!

Book an appointment today, call 866-347-0607  to avoid wait times and get personalized service in finding the right cellphone for your tween or teen.

Looking for more great tips?  See our previous article, Parental Advice Before Giving Your Child a Phone.  Our Teens and Cellphones Primer also offers for more in-depth info. on phone etiquette, sexting, and more.

Next week in our Cellular Sales series, we will be covering Apps Your Teen is Using.


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So many things to consider in getting their 1st phone, but these are all great ideas.

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