Parents should take cell phones with them

Cell phones for children: when does it actually make sense?

Cell phones are practical, no question about it! But when does a smartphone make sense for children? Here you can find out everything about cell phones for children.

Communicating, taking photos, listening to music and playing games - smartphones are small jack-of-all-trades and are high on schoolchildren's wish lists. For parents, the predominant argument is that if my child has a smartphone, I can always reach it. And if they miss the bus or something unexpected happens, the child can simply pick up the cell phone and let them know. But at what age does a cell phone make sense for a child?

Do elementary school children need a cell phone?

There is no general answer to this question. Primary school students usually do not yet need their own cell phone. At least not one that is equipped with all sorts of bells and whistles. If parents feel more secure when they can reach their child in an emergency, an "emergency cell phone" makes sense.

Not exactly cheap fun, but with many safety functions a reassurance for children and parents: Emergency cell phones can be located via GPS and they have an emergency button. You can call these cell phones like any other - but only the numbers saved by their parents are available for children to dial.

A cell phone makes sense for children over ten years of age

From the fifth or sixth grade, a cell phone is now part of everyday life for schoolchildren, and between the ages of 12 and 13, 95% of children already have a smartphone (source: Statista 2020). Is it legitimate to buy a smartphone because your friends also have one? The Hamburg educationalist Prof. Peter Struck understands this. “Otherwise the child can quickly become an outsider. And cell phones are used for exchange and communication with friends. Of course, it shouldn't be used out of boredom. "

To avoid this, he advises parents to set certain rules for cell phone use. “This is best done before you buy it. Parents should make it clear to their child that, for example, calls should be avoided out of boredom and that conversations should generally be kept as short as possible. "

Cell phones for children: prepaid or contract?

When the question of whether your child should get a cell phone is answered, the next one arises: Which contract makes sense? Prepaid, flat rate or a special child rate? Here you will find information and tips for your decision.

Prepaid: Always available with the WhatsApp SIM

For children under 13 is a Prepaid tariff the best choice. The principle is simple: Here you can only make as much money on calls or spend on other services as was loaded onto the card. Unwanted costs are excluded with a prepaid tariff. Individual calls or text messages are often relatively expensive with a prepaid card - but a prepaid tariff is the best way for children to learn how expensive it actually is to use a smartphone - and are most likely to practice using their mobile phone only when they are if it really makes sense.

A legitimate objection: Your child should always be able to reach you. But if the credit runs out, your child can no longer reach you with a prepaid tariff. If that's your concern, the WhatsApp SIM is a great option for you. Here you can alwaysWrite WhatsApp messages, even if the credit has actually been used up (provided, of course, your child has reception). The advantages of the WhatsApp Sim at a glance:

  • Text and phone calls at any time: even without data volume and credit, your child can always reach you via WhatsApp.
  • SIM management: you can set what your child can and cannot do with the mobile phone. In this way, unwanted services and subscriptions can also be blocked.
  • Real prepaid: There is no term, you have full cost control.

Which cell phone contract for children?

Most young people's monthly expenses for cell phone use are within reasonable limits, as various studies have shown. And that regardless of who ultimately pays the bill. A bitcom study found: "On average, the costs for 10 to 11 year olds are seven euros, for 12 to 13 year olds 12 and for 16 to 18 year olds 14 euros per month. Give for apps the children and adolescents surveyed paid an average of one euro per month. " Nevertheless, it is important to find out exactly which type of cell phone tariff is the best choice for your family before signing a contract.

In addition to the conversations and text messages, it is above all the extras that cost money. A one-off download of ring tones can cost up to ten euros, according to the “Finanztest” magazine. Because downloads are often handled via expensive 0190 or 0900 numbers. These can be concealed with a Germany code, e.g. 00491-90. The minute prices can be up to two euros. In-app purchases, for example for games, can also get really expensive.

Mobile phone flat rate for young people

In view of the fact that the cell phone is now used less for making calls than for sending messages and activities in social networks, makes one for children from 13 to 14 years of age who already spend significantly more time with the smartphone Flat rate makes perfect sense. Here the child can make calls, send SMS, chat and surf the Internet for a flat rate. The "house number" for the amount of data is: 500 MB data volume is sufficient for normal smartphone use: Chat a little, check e-mails and watch a video every now and then. Anyone who uses music streaming quickly needs 1 GB of data volume. Special ones are always on offer Children's tariffs or Partner tariffs for parents and childrenwhich, however, are not necessarily the cheapest alternative.

Tips to minimize risks and high costs

  • Together with your child, think about which mobile phone functions they are currently using (and foreseeable in the next twelve months).
  • Usage habits change quickly among children and adolescents - make sure that the tariff can be changed flexibly.
  • Block third-party providers such as ringtone and game subscriptions.
  • Block special numbers so that your child cannot dial expensive service numbers.
  • Block mobile connections abroad, as these are often extremely expensive.

What do children use cell phones for?

Communication WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok has long been more important to young people than making calls. You should always be interested in what your child is actually doing online. The best way to do this is to have a conversation, not to look secretly at your device.

Cell phones for children: what should I watch out for?

If you buy your child a cell phone, it makes sense to establish a few basic rules with your child before buying it so that the cell phone is used sensibly and does not cause frustration:

  • Children should get a cell phone without internet access to start with. So it is very clear what the purpose of the device is: making calls.
  • Internet access is almost a matter of course for young people. In any case, educate your child in detail about the dangers of the Internet. Key points here are disclosure of data and information / uploading photos / apps, games, in-app purchases and advertising. You should also install an ad blocker and make payment data inaccessible.
  • Prepaid tariffs are recommended for younger cell phone owners: there is no monthly basic fee. And children get a feel for money. Because when the card is empty, calls can no longer be made.
  • Let your child pay some of the cell phone costs with their pocket money. It is more likely to learn to appreciate its device and to use it responsibly.
  • Limit the usage times right from the start! As a guide: 12-year-olds should not use their smartphone for more than 45 minutes a day. For 14-year-olds it can be one hour a day.
  • Establish clear rules: the cell phone must be switched off or muted when eating and at school.
  • Find out about age-appropriate apps and games and download them yourself.
  • Set a good example yourself!
  • And: young people don't have to go along with every trend here! For young people, the parents' mobile phones are ideal. This keeps costs within limits - and the device does not attract cell phone thieves. In addition, surfing on an older device is less fun, and usage times are automatically limited.

Which cell phone is suitable for children?

“At the beginning, the child doesn't need a cell phone with all the trimmings,” says media expert Professor Hartmut Warkus. Since most cell phones are equipped with cameras etc. anyway, parents should not only talk to the child about the costs, but also about their correct use. "Perhaps dad's old cell phone would be a good start," recommends Warkus.

Even if it gets a new phone, it doesn't have to be the most expensive iPhone just because all the friends have one. This may not make you so popular with children for a short time, but it saves a lot of money. Smartphones are also often prone to damage. A protective cover can be a suitable gift here.

For whom?Cell phone modelIn a nutshellprice
Elementary school children

simvalley MOBILE emergency cell phone

  • No extras, just basic functions
  • No internet access
  • Phonebook can be stored with photos if children are not yet reading well
  • Emergency button that automatically calls stored numbers
  • easy operation
approx. 30 €
Elementary school children

XPLORA 4 - waterproof smartwatch for children

  • Can be set up and managed via the app on the parent's mobile phone
  • Position detection
  • Telephoning & short messages possible
  • Emergency button
  • No web browser, no social media, no games
approx. 160 €
Smartphone beginners


  • Simple user interface, very large icons
  • Android 9.0
  • 5 inch display
  • 16GB internal storage
  • 2 cameras (8 MP and 2 MP front camera)
  • Emergency call button that automatically calls stored contacts
  • Replaceable battery
approx. 130 €
Inexpensive smartphone


  • Android P + EMUI 9.1 Lite
  • 6.5 inch display
  • 128 GB internal storage
  • 48 MP camera
  • 3,750 mAh battery
approx. 150 €

Locating a child via mobile phone?

Parents can even have their child's cell phone located. Internet companies such as, for example, offer cell phone location via the child's cell phone. However, this should only be used in an absolute emergency and not misused as a monitoring app. Give your child his freedom. Even if it is difficult sometimes!

Are you maybe a tad too monitoring? We have dealt with the topic in the following article:

Image source: Pexels / Adrianna Calvo

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