Buying a Smartphone for Your Kid or Teen? Here’s What You Need to Know First…

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Smartphones, though a fairly recent development, have quickly become ubiquitous. Buying a Smartphone for Your Kid or Teen is a decision that should be well researched. Technological changes often mean changes to how we live, and it can be hard for parents to keep up. If you’ve been falling behind since the era of dumb phones, here are some tips to catch you up.

Buying a Smartphone for Your Kid or Teen

3G, 4G, and 5G

You’ve probably heard cell phone service referred to in terms of a number followed by the letter G before. It’s all over the advertising, after all. If you ever wondered what exactly the Gs stand for in these designations, it is Generation. As technology has progressed, faster wireless standards and equipment has become possible; each new generation improves on the previous by increasing download and upload speed. 4G is the current standard, with 5G representing proposals for better service at the moment. But mostly, as a consumer, the G rating of a phone represents your kids bugging you for a new phone.


SMS messages are a form of short text communication that has been used with cellular phones for some time now. The process of communicating through SMS messages is often referred to as texting. Of course, kids rarely engage in the kind of linguistic rigor that fixes definitions exactly; as a result, sometimes other communication forms on apps and websites, such as Facebook messaging, gets lumped in with texting as well. Texting is a pretty normal activity among modern teens, though the practice of sharing explicit texts, called sexting, is something any watchful parent needs to look out for.


Jailbreaking is the process of removing the company-specific coding on a phone so that you can transfer it between companies. Well, technically, jailbreaking refers to the act of doing this to an Apple-based phone; other phones get rooted or unlocked. When a cell company sells you a phone, it is usually bound to the network of the company that sold it to you, in an effort to enforce loyalty by limiting choice. But methods exist to get rid of that programming and access services that the company may not want you to get to.

Burners and Pay As You Go

There are several different models of payment attached to cell phone service. Your family might use a more traditional fixed-term contract type of service, where the user agrees to stick with the provider for a set time frame in exchange for a discount on hardware. More and more companies, however, are switching to month to month agreements in which the consumer pays for a phone up front and then has the freedom to walk away. Pay as you go, on the other hand, involves paying for data and minutes in fixed quantities that need refreshing when they are done. These phones are sometimes called burners, and are favored for nefarious purposes.

Girl cell phone

Child and Teen Mental Health Implications with Smartphone Use

New research has been emerging recently about the probable mental health implications of heavy smartphone use to the developing adolescent brain. Since the advent of the smartphone teen depression and suicide rates have skyrocketed. Research indicates that this spike is directly correlated to smartphone use.

To help your child or adolescent avoid the dangers of heavy smartphone use, it is important to have clear guidelines with your child or teen about cell phone use. Practices like having your children turn in their smartphone to you at a certain time each evening, not allowing smartphone use during school, at the dinner table, or when with company can help your child have a healthy “relationship” with their phone.


Smart phones are clearly here to stay; learning about them helps you make sure your kids are making the best choices. Plus, knowing a few things helps you make better financial and safety choices for your whole family.


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.