Features | 12 Apr 2024

Choosing your child’s phone: Is there a smartphone alternative?

If you want to keep your child connected while avoiding some online content or apps, a feature phone (or 'dumb phone') could be the answer.

Mobile phones can be an important and exciting piece of tech for kids to receive while growing up, but which type of phone to choose can be an equally challenging decision for any parent or carer.

Amid calls to address smartphone access and usage among under 16s, Vodafone has updated its ‘best phones for kids’ hub to better highlight an alternative choice – our basic feature phones.

What are feature phones?

Basic feature phones are non-smartphones that often don’t have the ability to download apps, providing only the most essential functions, such as texting or calling. Some don’t even have web browsers.

Durable, affordable and easy to use, they can be a great alternative to smartphones for kids and teenagers.

One option to consider is the Nokia 110 4G, which can also be used as a MP3 player, FM radio and torch. It does have a low-resolution rear camera built-in, as well as the basic Opera Mini web browser pre-loaded.

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The importance of safety, online and off

Deciding not to get a phone for your child can be a difficult decision for parents to make, with some not wanting their child to feel excluded among phone-owning peers.

Ofcom statistics support this dilemma, with 55% of 8-11-year-olds owning a mobile phone – a figure that rises to 98% for 12-15-year-olds.

However, many parents also see the benefits that a phone can provide at a time when children are becoming more independent, whether that involves walking home from school or meeting friends at the weekend.

Basic feature phones can offer a useful balance, providing a good option for parents who still want their child to be connected, but would prefer they didn’t have access to some online content or apps.

A recent campaign by Vodafone revealed that 69% of boys aged 11-14 have been exposed to online content that promotes misogyny and other harmful views. Meanwhile, 77% of girls aged 13-16 report online experiences that are harmful, according to a recent report by Internet Matters.

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How Vodafone is helping

Whatever the right choice is for your family, between smartphone or feature phone – or moving from one to the other as your child becomes ready – Vodafone has long supported parents when it comes to creating a safe digital environment for children.

That’s why, beyond our wide range of handset options, we have also developed plenty of useful resources – all of which can be found on our Digital Parenting hub, including:

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