| Screentime

How to choose a smartphone for your child

| 01 Nov 2021

When it comes to buying the first smartphone for their child, parents often conclude that the potential risks outweigh the benefits and decide it’s safer for their youngster to stay offline as long as possible. But, in fact, if properly chosen and secured, smartphones can boost creativity and even increase your little one’s safety. Here are a few tips on how to make a clever purchase.

Think twice before buying a second-hand device


Smartphones are always on the go and often become part of children’s adventures, getting easily broken or lost. No wonder many parents decide there’s no point investing in a brand-new model and instead opt for a second-hand smartphone. Nevertheless, such an approach is smart only when accompanied by proper cybersecurity measures.


Since the apps and operating systems of many used devices may be too old to be updated to the latest version, second-hand smartphones might also be more vulnerable to cyberattacks. System updates are essential, not only for the device to run more quickly and the interface to look more attractive, but also, with each update, security vulnerabilities are fixed.


Therefore, before buying a used smartphone, always check to what version of the operating system they can be updated, and if it checks with the version currently offered by the manufacturer, no matter whether you’re buying an Android or iOS device. If updates are no longer available, it’s worth paying extra for a more recent model. Also, remember to switch the phone back to factory settings, since you never know what was installed in the device by the previous owner. Thanks to that, your second-hand choice won’t turn into second thoughts.


Why is it essential to regularly update your child’s phone?

With each update, an extra layer of protection is added on. Possible cybersecurity vulnerabilities are fixed, and chances that hackers attack the phone diminish. What would an attacker be looking for in a child’s phone, you might ask? Imagine how many selfies teenagers often take and how it would feel if they got into the wrong hands. Also, if location tracking is on – activated, e.g., via parental control tools – GPS data could get stolen and your child’s whereabouts easily followed. Nevertheless, if you make sure that your child’s smartphone operating system can be updated to the most recent version, you won’t give hackers a chance. Regular checks via cybersecurity apps – even if using only their trial versions – are also a good idea.


Working perfectly? Not in my country


Regional differences might be exciting, but not when it comes to cybersecurity. Ordering a smartphone from the other side of the world can be cheaper – but it also comes with a few risks, which can be mitigated. For instance, if you buy a smartphone that was usually used in Asia and you plan to use it in North America, not all of your apps usually used in North America might work on that device. App developers test their products on many different devices and on several older versions of an operating system. As you can appreciate, it might be difficult for those developers to get their hands on every type of smartphone device from all over the world. So, they might not have had the opportunity to test and tweak their app on a specific device that is used only in a different part of the world, but which was so interesting to you that you decided to buy it. It means that you can experience a few bugs or some part of the functionality of the app might not work at all.


Cybersecurity apps used in your region might have the same issue when used on devices that are not that widespread in your region. To avoid unpleasant surprises and guarantee that the phone and your favourite apps have all of the required functions, always read reviews coming from your country, paying extra attention to the negative ones – there’s always a chance that the favourable ones might be fake. Thorough research pays.


Why not jailbreak the iOS?

If you provide your child with an iPhone, refrain from jailbreaking it and explain to your teen why such actions might be dangerous: not only is the warranty no longer valid, but also, apps and the device itself might become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Apple allows only the apps to access themselves, not letting any external apps scan or use them; but, if you jailbreak the operating system, they might suddenly open their doors to uninvited guests. One example that says it all: under normal circumstances, if the email app in an iPhone is attacked, probably only your login credentials will get stolen. But if the device had been jailbroken, via this one security hole, the attacker is suddenly able to access the whole system, including data stored in other apps.


Explaining can be fun, when mutual


Buying a smartphone is one thing, using it correctly is another challenge. If you want your children to use devices responsibly, let a person they trust or respect explain all the rules and functionalities. Play together, download together, set passwords together. Strict orders might look effective, but the opposite is true. As soon as your teens get out of your sight and reach, they might exceed boundaries and behave riskily, downloading apps and opening websites that have been strictly forbidden. If they learn to really understand why inappropriate content does not belong in their hands, you raise the chances that the internet stays a safe place.


Still having trust issues? There is also parental control software that allows you to monitor your offspring’s online activities, or even restrict access to some of them. Read more on possibilities they offer before finally buying the first smartphone for your child – and let it be your best partner.

ESET Parental Control for Android ESET Parental Control for Android

Make the internet safer for your children

With ESET Parental Control for Android


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