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Best Phones for Kids to Keep Them Connected and Safe

The best phones for kids will keep your child connected while also keeping them safe.

When your kid reaches a certain age, they need a phone. Whether it’s because they need to be able to tell you when to pick them up, so they can reach you in an emergency, or because not having one when all their friends do is harming their social life, at some point they will need one. On the positive side, letting them have a phone while they are still at home will enable you to teach them how to manage phone ownership. But giving them a phone still exposes them to dangers. You can mitigate that risk by choosing one of these best phones for kids. These devices provided the features that your kids want, while offering more protections than a standard smartphone.

The Dangers of Phones for Kids

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably aware of the dangers that are waiting for kids online. From bullying to grooming to internet addiction, there are a lot of risks and a lot of ways your child can be harmed. This isn’t exclusive to phones. Your child can run into the same challenges on the family computer.

But a phone increases the danger and its potential effects because it’s small and portable. If you’re relying on the “frequently checking the computer screen” method of monitoring your kid’s online activities, it’s much harder to check a phone screen. And since everyone carries their phones around with them all the time, if something dangerous is happening, your child will have a hard time getting away from it. It’s a constant opportunity for manipulation and harm.

As a parent who wants to keep your kids safe, what can you do? Banning your child from the internet is out of the question in the modern world. They need it for their schoolwork, and especially for older kids, it can harm their social life. But you still want to protect them from online risks. The key is parental controls. Parental control software can help you monitor what your kids are doing online and intervene before something gets dangerous.

Want to take an extra step beyond a piece of software? These best phones for kids build protection into the hardware with a combination of limited features and parental controls already included. If you’re at the point where you need to get your kid a phone, consider one of these options.

Best First Phone

Gabb Smart Phone

The Gabb Smart Phone is like a stripped-down version of a regular smartphone. It has no access to social media apps or the internet at all, and no app store means there’s no way for your kids to download anything to bypass the safety features. It comes with a camera, calculator, clock, voice recorder, radio, photo album, phone, messenger app, and Gabb Music (a music-streaming app with exclusively clean content), and that’s it. All of these features make it one of the best phones for young kids getting their first phone.

It is also packed with safety features. A GPS tracker lets you keep track of where your kids are. Advanced filters for both talk and text block inappropriate content and spam. There’s also a corresponding parent app that you can use to monitor your child’s messages.

In addition, it’s a relatively affordable option for a smartphone. However, it only works with Gabb’s phone plans, meaning you will have to pay a separate phone bill to get the promised unlimited talk and text.

Best Phone With No Social Media

Pinwheel Plus 3

The Pinwheel Plus 3 is one of the best phones for younger kids because it has the features you need from a phone without access to the dangers. It lets your child text and make and receive calls, and it has GPS tracking. But it doesn’t have social media, web browsing, or YouTube, so you can insulate young children from the more addictive aspects of phones. It also has the option of different “modes” that limit what the phone can do. Setting it to “school mode,” for example, makes it basically useless until school is over.

Unlike the Gabb phone, the Pinwheel Plus 3 does allow the installation of additional apps, which can be useful for slightly older kids who need to use apps for other activities. This makes it one of the best phones for preteens. It also has parental controls built in. There is a parent app that lets you see your child’s text and call history, track the GPS location, and enable and disable modes remotely. It also gives you final approval on any contacts and apps. That way you can make sure your child isn’t encountering anything dangerous. And letting them know you have the ability to review all their messages can help you reinforce healthy phone use.

In addition to all of this, it still acts like a regular smartphone, with a functional camera and the ability to install and use apps (except social media). And it’s the only phone on this list of best phones for kids that doesn’t have a proprietary network. Instead, it works on most phone carriers. So even though it is somewhat expensive, many parents think it’s worth it.

Best Phone for Independent Kids

Troomi Samsung A14 5G

Troomi’s safe phones for kids are Samsung A14 devices running Troomi’s KidSmart OS instead of regular Android. It’s a high-quality phone with safety features and restrictions built right in. It doesn’t have an app store, so your kids can’t download apps, but you can use the Parent Portal to install apps from Troomi’s list of approved “KidSmart” apps. It doesn’t have a web browser by default, but some plans give you the option to enable one. This makes it a great option to give your child some freedom – you can still monitor what they’re doing, but the restrictions let you give them more independence while knowing they’re still protected.

It also has many of the safety features you expect from a kids’ phone. GPS tracking provides real-time location updates. “SafeListing” lets you limit your child’s calls and texts to only contacts you approve. You have the ability to set schedules for when your child can access specific apps. Remote text monitoring lets you see both incoming and outgoing texts, and while it does allow kids to delete them, you can see the deleted ones. There’s no way to install social media apps on the KidSmart OS. And you can even check how much battery and signal they have.

The biggest drawback to Troomi is their pricing structure. Like almost every option on this list of best phones for kids, it requires you to use their wireless plan for a monthly fee. However, unlike the other phones on this list, which plan you choose affects which safety features you get. If you want group texting, you’ll have to upgrade; if you want to be able to add additional apps to the device, you’ll need their most expensive plan.

Best Phone for Older Kids

Bark Phone

The Bark Phone is one of the best phones for older kids.

Bark is a parental control software company. That makes it no surprise that their Bark Phone is one of the best phones for kids. Since Bark’s parental controls are built into the operating system, tech-savvy kids can’t disable them. The phone itself is a Samsung A14 running on an Android OS – it doesn’t look like a kid’s phone, and it won’t embarrass your teen. And unlike many other of the best phones for kids, it doesn’t outright ban certain kinds of apps or use. Instead, the control goes into the hands of you, the parent, which gives you a great opportunity to allow more freedom for older kids or reduce restrictions as younger kids grow.

Safety features of the Bark phone include GPS location tracking, the ability to block or set time limits on apps and websites, and the ability to monitor text messages, app use, social media, and web searches. You are also able to approve app downloads, manage your kid’s calls and contacts, and prevent them from deleting texts without permission. Bark will alert you if it detects anything potentially dangerous in your kid’s activities. You even have the ability to set alarms on the phone and remotely lock it if your kid needs a break.

It does require using Bark’s wireless plan, and prices vary depending on the plan you pick. But a subscription to Bark Premium are included in the price, and all plans include unlimited talk and text.

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