Best Starter Phones for Your Pre-Teen

No parent enjoys watching his or her child grow older and more independent, but it is an unfortunate fact of the way humans work. Your children will grow more mature in front of your eyes, and with that comes many changes and additional responsibilities. While many of these factors have been the same throughout human existence, one relatively new element of child rearing involves their very first cell phone.

But with the fast pace of your children’s growth and the even faster pace of phone technology, it can be difficult to know which phone is the right match for your child’s age and maturity level. Especially in the tween years where they are not quite a teenager but no longer a young child, the difficulty of making any decision can be intensified. However, this is the age in which many children begin to have their own cell phones, and your child has undoubtedly been asking about it for quite some time.

So, where do you begin when shopping for the best starter phones for a pre-teen? How much should you spend on a starter phone? Is your child ready for the responsibility that comes with a smartphone? How can you shield your child from all of the dangers that lurk around the internet and dangerous apps? These are all legitimate questions, ones you have and will consider when choosing the right phone.

This guide is designed to help you answer some of those questions and choose the right fit for your pre-teen, with a few examples of some of the best for kids/teens in general. The main areas you should focus on include the responsibility of a cell phone, the plan you must choose, the deal you will make with your child and the phone itself.

The Responsibility

Your pre-teen child may think he or she is becoming an adult and ready for the responsibility of a cell phone, but tweens are still very much children. That means they will still play actively, love any new toy for a short time and invariably lose and/or break things. You are obviously welcome to buy your pre-teen a new iPhone 8 or Samsung Galaxy S8, but only if you enjoy throwing money away. Additionally, phones are stolen from children every day, and an $800 phone will be very enticing to thieves.

With all that being said, a first phone may be one of the first major items your child owns him- or herself, and losing or breaking said phone will be a major lesson in responsibility. It is likely to happen, so don’t be too surprised when it does. Just use it as a teaching moment and be glad you did not shell out a fortune for the coolest new phone.

The Plan

Before you begin shopping for smartphones, you need to consider the phone plan you need for your child. There are likely some enticing options by your provider, but your child may not need all that comes with an unlimited plan. In fact, you may be better off buying an unlocked smartphone that can only be used over Wi-Fi or a simple phone with a cheap plan.

The Deal

Your pre-teen must understand that ownership of a smartphone does not entitle them to complete privacy. Part of the deal should be that you can check their phone at any time to ensure they are not involved in anything they shouldn’t be. The internet and certain apps are breeding grounds for bullying, sexting and all kinds of dark nonsense your child should have no part in.

The Phone

The phone you choose will depend largely on your own needs and network, but a few of the most common options for pre-teens include:

  • Alcatel A50 –  $99 at Amazon
  • LG Sylo 3 – $177 at T-Mobile
  • Apple iPhone SE –  $399 at Verizon
  • Blu Tank II – $27 at Amazon
  • Motorola Moto E4 – $129 at Motorola
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 – $177 at T-Mobile