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Buying your child’s first smartphone or tablet

04 December 2014, Cătălina Ciontu, Senior Communications Executive
Buying your child’s first smartphone or tablet

If in the years gone by kids used to have more modest requests for Christmas gifts such as football boots, books or a bicycle, nowadays smartphones and tablets among other gadgets are to be found on their wish lists. The Independent reports £275 to be the average that mothers spend on each of their children at Christmas in the UK. Considering the tempting deals of Cyber Monday and Black Friday and the pressure from the kids requesting smart devices it’s easy to understand why some parents give in and purchase the child’s first smartphone or tablet around Christmas.

To make sure that you and your child are prepared from the Christmas day when the newly purchased device is set for use and to avoid ‘bill shock’ it might be worth considering the following:

  • Know the numbers used in TV voting or competition or quizzes – premium rate numbers starting with 09 and 087 cost more than regular calls or texts.
  • Regularly check the phone bill or pre-paid credit to spot any unusual numbers or charges you are not sure about. Also if you allow your child to make purchases on the tablet or smartphone, make sure they check the purchase with you or with the bill payer first.
  • Talk to them about looking out for the real cost, sometimes only available in the small print. Kids and teens using social media apps (games, quizzes and competitions) might be tempted to purchase premium rate services disregarding the cost when their friends encourage them to do so.
  • Educate your child on using the mobile internet responsibly, tell them about privacy settings (on social media and location based services) and marketing practices (tapping on banners, subscribing to premium rate services, downloading content, gaming, entertainment etc.)
  • Make sure there are age restrictions set in place to prevent the under age user from viewing explicit content or tapping on anything that might incur a charge without your approval.
  • Set up control over app downloads (both free and paid-for) and also for in-app purchases. Ofcom has created a series of how-to videos explaining how to set up restrictions on all smartphones (iOS, Android, Windows 8 and Blackberry).

Children using the mobile internet are less supervised by their parents than when they are at home using a PC. In addition to this, a smartphone is also a payment device which makes it very important for parents to keep an eye on it; it’s much easier to make an online purchase on a mobile device (via operator billing) compared to on a PC (where credit card information and other security checks are required).

To find out more visit our award-winning website PhoneBrain which contains plenty of advice and learning resources presented in a concise and interactive manner and for audiences of all ages; parents, teens and young children.

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