Setting up smartphones for kids: tips and recommendations

Kids nowadays are growing up in a highly digital world and are mostly using devices from their parents. If the youngest were allowed to spend a certain amount of time in front of the TV back then, today’s mobile devices like smart phone or tablets used to play movies, series, music, or audiobooks. However, children should not have a cell phone to themselves too soon as it is known that there are some dangers inherent on the Internet. But if it’s time, it’s essential to take some safety precautions when preparing it. Below IMTEST tells you what to watch out for.

At what age should children have a smartphone?

Sooner or later, the offspring will want its own device. Then many people ask themselves when a smartphone is ever good. The general educational recommendation is not to give children their cell phones before their ninth birthday. However, at first, it should only be possible to make phone calls to him, because children of this age are usually not yet able to assess the risks of the Internet.


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It doesn’t have to be a completely new smartphone: instead, it’s enough to use a device from parents or older siblings. If kids have to commute long distances on their own before their ninth birthday, such an emergency cell phone for making calls is definitely a good idea.

The Simvalley device, for example, is an emergency device and is equipped with four large speed dial buttons and an emergency call button. There are four photo slots on the screen, four regular phone numbers and five emergency numbers that can be stored in memory. Advantages at a glance:

  • Remote maintenance via SMS
  • Simple number assignment
  • Compact mini LED flashlight
  • SOS function: automatic dialing until someone is reached

It is only from the age of eleven to twelve that children slowly prepare for their first experiences with the Internet and applications. However, you should gradually familiarize young people with its use. Since particularly intelligent young people can get around or overturn some security settings, there should also be a relationship of trust between parent and child if possible.


A young child using an iPhone

Here we explain how to activate parental controls on your iPhone or iPad.



These security settings must be made

Each device comes with different technical requirements. However, the following settings are possible with almost every smartphone:

Set PIN and passwords: Both the SIM card and the screen lock must be protected from unauthorized access with PIN codes. Explain to your child that under no circumstances should this information be passed on to others.

Create user accounts: Many devices allow you to create multiple user accounts. When configuring, parents must therefore assign the primary user or owner account and also secure that with a PIN in order to have full control over the device. The child then gets their own user account (usually via ‘User’ or ‘Accounts’ in Settings). This prevents the offspring from being able to change the security settings.

With Android smartphones, a child’s Google Account can be created via the “Google Family Link” app (now also available for iPhone) and certain ground rules can be set for use. The child can also be deprived of administrative rights, so that applications cannot be independently installed or deactivated.

Enable parental controls on popular appsFor example, TikTok, YouTube, or Spotify have a restricted mode that only allows content with a youth rating.

Reduce screen timeIt is best to agree on fixed usage times with the offspring in advance and back everything up with an appropriate app. With some devices, this can actually be set internally. For example, for Android smartphones, you need to do the following:

  1. Recall the smartphone settings
  2. Select the item “Digital Wellbeing and Parental Control Settings”.
  3. Set up individual app timers for daily use via the dashboard

A child with a smartphone sitting on a wall

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Activate the third party lockTo ensure that your child does not mistakenly sign up for unwanted subscriptions that are billed on the mobile phone bill, you must activate the corresponding third-party lock via the mobile provider. This is usually done on the respective website after the customer has logged in with just a few clicks.

Xiaomi Redmi 9A: an inexpensive entry-level smartphone

As mentioned, it is not necessarily the most expensive model to start using a smartphone, especially for kids. Android devices are more convenient because they are cheaper than Apple products. Xiaomi Redmi, for example, is a smartphone at a low price and with satisfactory technology.

  • 5000 mAh battery
  • 6.53 inch HD screen
  • 2 GB RAM, 32 GB Internal Storage
  • With two slices

Samsung Galaxy A22 5G

The Samsung Galaxy A22 5G is a little more expensive, but with the 5G mobile communications standard and also equipped with important security functions. With the device, your youngest can take high-quality photos.

  • 4 GB RAM, 64 GB Internal Storage
  • 5G
  • 6.6 inch screen
  • 5000 mAh battery

IMTEST took a detailed look at the smartphone tariffs of the largest service providers.



Alternative devices: Children’s smartwatch or tablet

Many children are primarily interested in games or watching movies. In this case or in an emergency, alternatives such as tablets or smartwatches designed specifically for children can also be used.

Tablet for kids: Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

For example, with the Amazon Fire Kids tablet, your youngest can learn, play, watch videos, and read. The device is specially developed for children and is equipped with a comprehensive child safety device. With this, you can decide what tablet can be used and for how long.

How suitable is the Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet Kids Edition for children? TEST IMTEST TABLET



XPLORA smart watch

Another alternative – usually cheaper than a smartphone – is a children’s smartwatch. The XPLORA XGO 2, for example, is available for just under €100, and it can make and receive calls to previously saved contacts, and it also has an SOS function, among other things.

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