A guide to the right phone for your child

Find out what kind of phone you should buy for your kids, and what you should be aware of before doing so...
A guide to the right phone for your child

Connected kids

Knowing what kind of phone to buy your child can be tricky. There are a lot of things to consider - like whether you want a smartphone or a feature phone. Whether you’d prefer a Pay monthly contract or a Pay As You Go plan. Or, if it’s easier to look at gifting your old device as a hand-me-down.

Thankfully, we offer a bunch of options designed to suit both yours and your child’s needs. And by comparing the biggest choice of handsets, you can be sure you’ll be able to find the perfect deal.

Make sure you look out for the Connected Kids logo (right) on Carphone Warehouse's website for the top picks.

Pay As You Go

PAYG plans limit internet access to how much credit you add. They provide an easy, hassle-free way of you keeping in touch with each other. You can makes calls and send text messages, while avoiding the risk of surprise bills or access to inappropriate online content.

Pay As You Go plans are available with both smartphones and feature phones. Smartphones offer a lot more in terms of connectivity and apps, whereas features phones are more basic, and cost less.

We’ve picked out a few Pay As You Go phones to help you get started.

Pay monthly

Pay monthly plans offer more flexibility. You can use your data allowance to get online anywhere, to enjoy the likes of social media, YouTube, and Netflix. You also get a larger allocation of minutes and texts – sometimes unlimited – so you’ll always be able to touch base.

If you’re concerned about too much internet browsing, you can always limit how much time can be spent online with adjustable restrictions.

Check out some of our pay-monthly phones, perfect for kids, by following this link.


If you’ve got an old phone you’d like to hand down to your child, a SIM Only plan would work perfectly. Because you already own the handset, you’ll only be paying for data, minutes and texts.

It’s easy to make a hand-me-down phone your own with our great range of accessories.

SIM Free

Kids grow up quick. To make sure you’re not always playing catch up, you might be interested in going SIM Free. This means that you pair an unlocked handset with a SIM Only plan (PAYG or Pay monthly), giving you the option to switch from Pay As You Go, to Pay monthly - or vice versa - as your individual circumstances change over the years.

We’ve got loads of SIM Free handset on offer, check out a couple of our favourites here.

Staying safe online

It’s not uncommon for children to use their parents’ devices when at home. But it’s important to keep them safe when doing so. You’ll want to protect them from viewing inappropriate content on the internet, or contacting anyone they’re not supposed to.

There are some great parental control apps out there that go as far as keeping an eye on your child’s whereabouts. But first of all, let’s talk about protecting you from the online actions of your children.

It’s alarmingly simple for children to unwittingly make in-app purchases, and some apps allow them to run up bills of over a thousand pounds in a matter of minutes. The good news is that it’s easy for parents to stop these kinds of purchases being made…

How to restrict purchases on Android

On Android devices you can use password protection on the Google Play Store app to prevent accidental purchases. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Open the Google Play Store app

  • Navigate to Menu > Settings > Require authentication for purchases > For all purchases

Password protection is now set up on your Android device. The password will be your existing Google account password, so make sure your child doesn’t know it.

How to restrict purchases on iOS

To restrict in-app purchases on your Apple device, do the following:

  • Go into Settings > General > Restrictions

  • Tap Enable Restrictions > enter a PIN

  • Go to In-App Purchases in the list of options under the Restrictions tab

In-app purchases have now been disabled on your device. This can’t be changed without entering your PIN, so keep it safe.

Best parental control apps for added security

Stopping unwanted purchases from being made is a great first step. Your device still isn’t completely child-friendly though. For further protection you should think about adding a good parental control app. Here are a couple of the best.

Mobile Guardian
Android (free 7-day trial), iOS (free 7-day trial)

The Mobile Guardian app comes with a wide range of parental monitoring tools for tracking your child’s mobile activity, including a web content-filtering system, app-blocking, a timetable system, and contact management. It even has GPS-tracking built in, so you always know where your child is.

Android (free), iOS (free)

Qustodio’s parental control app includes a panic button so that your child can contact you in an emergency with just one click. It also has the ability to filter web content, monitor and block calls, and has a ‘child location’ feature with a 30-day location history.

More ways to keep your kids safe

The apps and restrictions we’ve highlighted above will do a great job of keeping your kids on the right track in the mobile world, but it’s also important to speak to them about how to stay safe online.

Typically children display better online behaviour if their parents take the time to talk to them about internet safety. But there are lots of things to be aware of before buying your child a phone, with some of the major headlines being sexting and cyber-bullying.

Research has shown that 43% of all children have been bullied online, with the mobile phone being the most common medium. It’s a frightening statistic, but being aware of the threats of internet-usage before putting technology in your children’s hands is very important.

To help you get started, the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has a useful document around online safety that you can download here.

Are you a parent? Which parental controls do you use on your mobile devices? Do you have any other tips to make them more kid-friendly? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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