Is It Really Smart to Give Kids Your Old Smartphone?

High-tech hand-me-downs give put lots of power in kids' hands.
Caroline Knorr Parenting Editor | Mom of one Categories: Cell Phone Parenting
Parenting Editor | Mom of one

When it comes to high-tech devices, "hand-me-downs" can be very advanced. Once kids get a taste of a maybe-not-the-latest-but-still-pretty-cool device, it's a quick jump to the stuff that younger ones may not be ready for, like social networking, massively multiplayer online games, video chatting, and location services. But that's hard to explain when they've just received the device that gives them entrée into that world -- from you.

Lots of families pass along their used devices to their kids. Sometimes it just makes sense, and in some cases, it's cost effective. But it's important to remember that these are very powerful devices that aren't necessarily designed with kids in mind.

Here are four ways to smoothly transition your old device so you can focus on what's really important: playing with your new one!

How to Manage Your Device's Second Life

Lesson one: Know what the device can do. If something has powerful features, rest assured that your kid will discover them and want to use them. Do your research so you can talk to your kids -- and set limits on -- these capabilities.
Lesson two: Turn off -- or don't pay for -- the stuff you don't want your kids to use. Use the device's parental controls to lock features that you don't want your kid to access. Things like location services, downloading ability, and even data plans are all things your kid may not need. Explain to your kids that you'll unlock the features as they grow into them.
Lesson three: Discuss responsible ownership. When you give kids high-tech devices, you're putting a lot of power in their hands. Talk about your expectations for responsible ownership, like not taking or posting embarrassing photos on Facebook, learning the importance of privacy settings, or even figuring out how to tell when an ad is a scam.
Lesson four: Check yourself. Would you be giving your kid such a powerful device anyway? If the device is, say, a few technical notches above what you'd probably buy for them, maybe now isn't the time to bequeath it after all.

About Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (3)

Teen, 13 years old written by DanTheDog

I'm sorry, I didnt mean to offend. I was just mad because I asked my mom to buy me a Samsung Galaxy S4 and she got me a Samsung Intensity III
Teen, 13 years old written by DanTheDog

First of all, why do adults and parents like you keep thinking that iPods are phones?! I struggled to get my mom to get me a phone for almost a year because she thought I already had one! And when she did, it was some cheap slider phone! I really don't think you should be writing this article, because an iPod and a smartphone are two COMPLETELY different things. Just sayn'.
Teen, 15 years old written by wangfangs

Let me start off by saying, I do not own a smartphone. I owned a pseudo-smartphone with my last model, a Nokia E71x, but I didn't have a data plan and what was considered a smartphone in 2009 does not quite meet today’s standards of phone intelligence, capabilities and what have you. I loved that phone, and it got me through a couple of years of high school, but it was not stunningly impressive. Today, I live in a dorm room with several stunningly impressive straight talk phones for sale. One of my roommates has a Motorola Droid X, another has a BlackBerry Curve, and a friend who might as well be a roommate has an Apple iPhone 4.