The year 2020 has been challenging for all of us, but especially for kids. With all the changes in the world, plus home schooling and missing their friends, it’s not been an easy time. Have they been longing to get their first smartphone or game console for Christmas? Or maybe you’d like to give them […]

The year 2020 has been challenging for all of us, but especially for kids. With all the changes in the world, plus home schooling and missing their friends, it’s not been an easy time. Have they been longing to get their first smartphone or game console for Christmas? Or maybe you’d like to give them a special treat this year. We’ve teamed up with online safety experts, Internet Matters, on a brand new guide called My first connected device. It’ll help support you and your child to get the most out of their new present. Here are a few tips below.

Are they ready for their own device?

This is important to consider before buying a device for your little one or teen. Before you rush out to get that new tablet or smartphone, have a chat with them. What will they need it for and are they willing to look after it? If they’re starting to do more things on their own, then having more responsibility could be a great confidence boost. It could also teach them decision-making and how to manage their own screen time. Make sure that you also have a chat about safety and what they can and can’t do online.

Finally, think about what kind of device will suit your child’s needs and if it has to be new. Do they feel peer pressure to have a new smartphone or could they use a second hand one? If it’s second hand, then it’ll have to be factory reset. You may also need to add parental controls to keep them safe.

Buying tips

Ready to get a device? Depending on which one you’re planning to buy, there are a few things to work out first.

Smartphone

Will you choose Pay As You Go or Pay Monthly? If Pay Monthly, there’s a chance they could go over the data limit unless you pick an Unlimited data plan. Or you may prefer Pay As You Go, which can help you keep a closer eye on what they’re spending. It may be a useful way for them to learn about money too. Do they want lots of features and internet access? If so, then a smartphone, rather than a basic phone, is probably the best option. Below we’ve included some of our favourites for kids or teenagers.

iPhone SE

It’s full of features they’ll love, like A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone. So, apps will run smoothly and games will be super-fast and in high res. Plus they’ll be able to take pics in amazing details with 6 lighting effects and next generation smart HDR. It’s even water resistant too and at a very affordable price from £22 per month with no upfront cost. Get the iPhone SE on Pay Monthly today.

One Plus Nord

This great performing and lightweight phone boasts 5G capability. It also has an incredible range of features like a 48MP Quad camera system and Optical Image Stabilisation. The ultra wide angle selfie camera means they can grab all their friends for a group shot whenever and wherever they are. And with Warp Charge powering up is child’s play – go from 1% to 70% in a speedy half hour. Buy with 12GB for only £25 per month – saving £216. You can also get One Plus Nord on Pay As You Go.

Laptops and tablets

When deciding what to buy, think about what your child would like and what they’ll use it for. Do they want a specific brand? Again, prices can vary depending on the number and quality of features.

Samsung Tab A8 inch

This is a great choice for kids with a large screen but a very friendly price. Buy it from as little as £11 per month with no upfront cost or on Pay As You Go. It’s slim and only 247g so both adults and children can pack it or carry it around with no bother. And with Samsung’s Kids Mode app you can also turn the device into a safe space for play and learning.

Don’t forget eBook readers, which are great for reading and study, if they don’t really need a connected tablet.

Gaming console

Which games would they love to play? Have a check to find out what you need, as some games only work on specific consoles. However, others can be played on tablets and don’t even need a console. Keep in mind older consoles too, which are less expensive if they’re not so fussed about the latest games.

Setting up safely

Having a new device is exciting with so much to learn and explore. But as a parent, it helps to also make them aware that there are some risks involved. Explaining how these safety measures will protect them should help. And it means that they’ll be less likely to try and see certain types of content. A win win all round.

Plus, all our new devices have the adult content filter automatically set up to block any unsuitable content. Find out more about the online filters in our Safety portal. If they’re using it for gaming and socialising though, we recommend setting up some extra safety restrictions.

Our New Pay As You Go app also allows you to control spend, usage and topping up with total ease.

Setting digital boundaries – conversations to have

Before and after they’ve got their shiny new device, it’s a good idea to regularly chat about the dangers online. Plus, you could see if they understand what a digital footprint is? Let them know that if they post images or information about themselves, it could be seen by a lot of people. And that it’s tricky to delete. You may even want to get them involved and write up a family digital agreement. This would mean that everybody knows and understands the new rules and responsibilities.

If you’d like to read the full safety guide, check out My first connected device on Internet Matters.

Discovery courses

Join our Discovery team on Thursday 17 December for a live ‘Online & Device Safety’ workshop. They’ll give you the lowdown on the best device and app settings to help keep your kids safe and sound, whatever device they’re using. Book your place now.

Gift guide

For our full range of Christmas present ideas – take a look at our Christmas Gift Guide 2020. You’re sure to find the ideal gift for your techie loving kid – whether it’s a phone, gadget or tablet. You might even find something for yourself too.

We hope you and your family have lots of fun this Christmas and stay safe.