Growing up, your child will ask you one day to have his own mobile phone to chat with his friends, listen to music or take pictures. The telephone has become more than a communication tool, an object of desire. But at what age is it reasonable to allow him to own one? Which model to choose for a teenager? What limits should be set? We take stock.
In the lives of young adolescents, mobile phones and more particularly the smartphones are an integral part of their daily lives. They use it at any time of the day to communicate, make calls, send messages, go on social networks but also to get information on the Internet, watch the time, the weather or to check their emails. Phones are no longer just communication toolsthey are also socialization tools not without danger. Today, in France, the average age of acquisition of the first mobile phone is 9 years and nine monthsaccording to a survey Médiamétrie dating from 2020. As a result, many parents are wondering what is the reasonable age to accept that his child has his own smartphone. In a previous interview, Anne-Catherine Baseilhac, parenting expert, told the Journal des Femmes her reluctance to acquire a laptop for the youngest. “In my opinion, there is no need to have a phone from the start of sixth grade, let alone before. But it is also necessary to take into account social pressure and that of other comrades“. The mobile phone is also, let’s face it, a good way for parents to keep in touch with their children and avoid certain worries. But you still have to find the right phone model for your child, with an interesting and reasonably priced mobile plan. To help you in this quest, here are our tips.
Which cell phone for a teenager?
Choosing a cell phone for a child or teenager is far from easy. We know that young people tend to want at all costs the latest model that came out, the one that everyone has, but necessarily this one has a cost.
For a child
Buying a phone is a cost that can easily exceed the budget you set for yourself as a parent. Even if the final decision is up to you, know that it exists for a first laptop low-cost models (less than 100 euros) that include the main features expected of a phone for a child under 9 years old. They are less advanced than the latest generation smartphones, but they still allow you to receive calls, send SMS and/or MMS, have a directory with contacts, and sometimes even play certain games. It also keeps young toddlers from being exposed to blue lights or other harmful content. In this register, we find certain models such as the Nokia 3310 with a slightly vintage design, or the Nokia 2660 Flip.
For a teenager
For a teenager, the offer of smartphone models is much wider. There are many entry-level models which have certain advanced functions compared to conventional cell phones: Internet access, mobile applications, camera and video, etc. Their design is up to date and their interface is easy to use for a teenager. Among the most coveted is the model Motorola e7 Plusthe Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro or even the Samsung Galaxy A13.
If you are looking for a high performance model, the latest Iphone and Samsung are generally very popular with young teenagers despite their very expensive price.
Which mobile plan should a teenager choose?
As with telephones, there are also different mobile plans depending on the age of the child and their telephony needs. Some operators have also launched mobile plans at low prices. For a young child, under the age of 10, who only uses their phone to call or send messages, simple prepaid cards or mobile top-ups are sufficient.. In general, you find from 5 euros in the shops of mobile operators, online on Fnac for example and even sometimes in tobacconists press services.
For a teenager who has a more sustained use of his smartphone, you can opt for cheap blocked mobile plans, which include a 4G Internet offer (for better browsing) with a limited amount of GB, in addition to calls and SMS/MMS. For the start of the 2022 school year, here are the offers:
- at Bouygues, the Sensation 5GB package, 12-month commitment with 5GB of Internet and unlimited calls and SMS in France and from Europe and the overseas departments, all for €6.99 per month;
- at SFR, the first price package for 12 months, with 100 MB of Internet on the 4G+ network, 2 hours of calls and unlimited SMS/MMS in mainland France and from Europe and the overseas departments at €3 per month;
- at Free, the package at €2 per month, without commitment, with 50 MB of Internet in 4G/4G+, 2 hours of calls and unlimited SMS/MMS in France and from Europe and the overseas departments;
- at Orange, the package at €2.99 per month, the first 12 months, blocked or not, with 100 MB of mobile Internet, 2 hours of calls and unlimited SMS/MMS in France and from Europe, the overseas departments , Switzerland and Andorra;
- at Sosh, the fixed price at €4.99 per month, without commitment, with 100 MB of Internet, 2 hours of calls and unlimited SMS/MMS in France.
Differences between a cell phone and a smartphone
Parents may wonder and it’s legitimate what is the big difference between a cell phone and a smartphone. A mobile phone has the basic functionalities that we all know: calls, SMS and MMS. The smartphone is also a telephone, but in its more advanced version. It is a multifunctional smart phone. In particular, it has an AZERTY touch keyboard, it has Internet access, it has integrated electronic messaging, it can read and record good quality music, videos and photos, it is also equipped with a GPS chip. to ensure the location of its user etc.
What questions should you ask yourself before buying a phone for a teenager?
What are the reasons why your child wants to have a mobile phone? Do you think he needs it? Is he able to evaluate the time spent on his phone? What plan and what type of phone could suit him? If it’s about following the trend, find out from other parents of students. Did they all really buy a new phone, or is your kid referring to their best pal? Conversely, is he the only one in his class not to have one? In short, if your little geek is crying out for a phone and you find the use of it together, set some boundaries with him. For example, by allowing him to use a basic device and not the latest model, and depending on his age, by teaching him to manage his consumption…
Is my child mature enough to have their own phone?
For Richard Buferne, child psychiatrist*, “it is difficult to fix an age because it is rather the maturity of the young person and his capacity to perceive the dangers that can present cell phone use which must be assessed to grant their request“. In other words, not until your child understands the “connection between the private, even the intimate, and the public that can be made through this object” to avoid any drift.
What limits should be set for the use of the telephone?
parental control software or deprivation of the telephone? According to specialists, it seems “that technical limitations are less effective than we think and parents should probably not rely on them“advises Dr. Buferne. So the solution is to talk about limits together, upstream : “It is important to inform young people about the risks of unbridled use of their telephone and to define with them the rules that must be put in place: type of package, times of use, etc.“. Of course, these limits are to be established with him, according to his age and his maturity. For example, it is better to opt for a blocked plan if your child is young. Later, if he knew manage your communication time, you can authorize an unlimited plan. In any case, you can ask for help from the operators’ sales advisors who are used to guiding parents and teenagers. In case your teenager does not respect the limits set, do not hesitate to talk to him about it again and above all, to set an example, as the specialist recommends: “it is important for adults to show themselves that they use their mobile telephone in a reasoned and respectful way.“Also know how to be available and don’t demonize the cell phone either. Indeed, if your teenager is confronted with a shocking remark received on his cell phone, “he must be able to speak to one or more adults who can talk about it with him“, warns the child psychiatrist.
Vulgar messages received, threats, compromising photos and videos posted… More and more young people are confronted with content that they did not want to see with their mobile. To protect them from these excesses, it is essential to make them aware and to make them understand that moderate use of the mobile phone is necessary.. Thereby, “it is important that the young person is aware that he can expose his personal life, his intimacy by the use of his mobile phone and that he must therefore be careful about the words and images of himself that he is going to broadcast.” The maxim “Do not do to others what we would not like them to do to us” takes on its full meaning here too, since you will also have to explain to your child that he does not have (consciously or not) to disseminate information (transfers of messages, photos, etc.) that harm the privacy of other people.
Banning smartphones in schools
If students are allowed to have a mobile phone, provided it is turned off and put away, its use is strictly prohibited, as recalled by the rules indicated on the site of the Ministry of Education. Each school also provides in its rules of procedure for the confiscation and return of telephones, as well as the “places” or “conditions” authorized. Alternatively, in an emergency, school children can ask an adult for access to a smartphone. Restrictive and very framed measures, aimed at making the school a sanctuary of real and not virtual sociability, without the screens altering their ability to concentrate or further promoting cyberbullying. Not to mention the covetousness, and malicious acts such as theft or racketeering, that a state-of-the-art smartphone can arouse.