While I do not support a lot of screentime, I do see a benefit to a tween or teenager owning a phone. Our son has a phone and he is on it about 30 minutes a week, tops. He uses it to keep in touch with us if he goes to a friends house, he uses it to write back to friends if they ask him to hang out and he uses it if we have a long road trip.
When we gave our son his phone, it was our old phone. To him, it was new and exciting. He also knew that it wasn’t new. I want our children to learn to be appreciative of everything, (not just new things.) Giving your child your old cell phone and showing them how it can be used as a productive tool can benefit you both, and many mobile carriers allow you to bring your existing phone to your network without having to pay for a new one.
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After you’ve determined that your phone is compatible with your plan, check out the top seven ways your child can use a regifted phone and earn the status of “Parent of the Year” with some cool and unique ways to gift your child your old phone.
7 Helpful Ways Your Child Can Use a Regifted Phone
- Easy communication and family locator. By the time your child gets a phone, they are likely old enough to have a little independence from mom and dad. Being able to communicate through text, email, phone calls, or video calls makes it easy to stay in touch. Installing a family locator app on your child’s phone also allows you to keep tabs on them throughout the day and lets your child see where you are, too.Some apps let you set geographical fences around certain areas, like school and home, and you can set up notifications to be alerted when your child has arrived or left. This can help give you some peace of mind that your child is where they are supposed to be.
- Reading eBooks. Download an eReader app, so your child has access to an endless supply of books to read. Most local libraries also let you borrow ebooks using Overdrive.
- Homework assistant. Google Search, Alexa, Siri, or Bixby can be a student’s best friend. These apps allow your child to ask nearly anything and receive an answer within seconds—a helpful tool when they need to search for information to support a paper or need help with a homework question. Plus, the calculator app is an essential instrument for math. Having a cell phone can also make it easier for your child to communicate with their teachers and classmates. Nowadays, many schools use Google Docs or Microsoft office to share classwork and submit homework or papers, and a cell phone can give your child easier access to these apps.
- First camera. For some kids, the camera app on the phone will be their first camera. Your child will love having the ability to take pictures and capture memories. They can also learn how to curate their photos through collages, slideshows, and video editing. Before handing your phone over, remember to have a conversation with your child about privacy and appropriate behavior when it comes to taking and sharing pictures.
- A digital to-do list and reminders. A phone is a great place for your child to document their to-do list and help keep track of homework, projects, chores, and wish lists. Reminders can be set up through your child’s calendar app, or they can ask Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa to set time-based or location-based reminders. Location-based reminders send an alert once your child has arrived at a specific place, such as school, home, or the library.
- Step-by-step directions. Even if your child doesn’t drive, a maps app, like Google or Apple Maps, gives them the ability to get step-by-step directions, no matter where they are going. Plus, this function can come in handy during family vacations. The famous “Are we there yet?” question will likely fade as your child realizes they can answer that question (with pinpoint accuracy) on their own.
- Access to music. Of course, where would kids be without music? The ability to play music is great for downtime, and a cell phone can provide instant access to your child’s favorite tunes, either through an app or their own files.
Creative Ways to Surprise Your Child with the Phone
If you’re going to add your old phone to your plan for your child to use, make it a fun surprise with one of these wrapping ideas.
- Add the phone to your wireless plan and then wrap it up. When you hand the wrapped box to your child, have someone call the activated phone so it starts ringing.
- Buy some new phone accessories and make it a progressive present. Have your child unwrap the smaller gifts first, like a phone charger and a new phone case. Once they’ve gotten the hint of what will come next, give them the phone to unwrap last.
- Do you and your child have a special place you like to visit together? Whether it’s your favorite diner, the beach, the baseball field, an amusement park, or Grandma’s house, taking your child to a memorable place to surprise them with the phone will enhance your memories.
- Who doesn’t like to receive a package in the mail? Wrap the phone up, address it to your child, and drop it in a mailbox. Their eyes will light up when they see they have a special delivery.
- If you have a family dog, get your four-legged friend in on the surprise. Attach the phone to your dog’s collar and let him do the gifting when your child walks in the room.
- Hide the phone in a wrapped box in the room. When your child walks in, call the phone and pretend like you don’t know what it is. Let him/her find it. (Set the background to be of your child or your family)
Take the time to show them the many benefits a cell phone offers, and make it memorable by regifting it in a fun and surprising way.
Teach your child that phones come with limits and talk to your child about it often until your child understands and practices those limits. As I tell our children, there is not a “perfect age” for a phone… it is given when they are trustworthy, responsible and ready in YOUR eyes (not theirs).
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Lori Cunningham is a family tech advocate and contributing writer for Xfinity Mobile. She is always looking to find new ways technology can help families with their scheduled lives and started the WellConnectedMom.com to share her passion for technology with others.