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Setting Up a Child's First iPhone, Part 1: Considerations

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This post is part of a series called Setting Up a Child's First iPhone.
Setting Up a Child's First iPhone, Part 2: Practicalities

In this, the first of two tutorials, I'll show you some of the things that you'll need to consider in order to set up an iPhone for your child. I'll look at the best ways to select an iPhone, the checks that you should do before buying and selecting a contract.

In the second part of the tutorial, I'll show you at the practicalities of setting up an iPhone for a child. I'll look at the apps to consider, online safety, the physicial safety of the device and ongoing device management.

Considerations

Considering an iPhone for your child
Considering an iPhone for your child

When to give a child their first iPhone depends upon a number of factors. It is important to consider the reasoning behind doing so. 

Perhaps they are starting to walk to and from school by themselves or attending after school clubs. Perhaps you want to give them greater responsibilities. Maybe it's a means for them to keep in touch with grandparents or friends. 

Whatever the motivation, you'll need to budget for an iPhone handset and a mobile voice and data contract. Consider the chance of loss, damage or theft of the device. It may be that, for a younger child, a secondhand device will suffice. 

Rights and Responsibilities

It is important to have a discussion, with your child, before you purchase the iPhone so that you are both clear on the parameters for its use. 

It is imperative that both you and the child understand their reasons for having a smartphone, what they can do with it and what that shouldn't. Ensure that you have an open and honest conversation, with them, about online dangers. 

They should understand that, like any tool, the internet is an incredible thing when used properly. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience at their fingertips in such a way that society has never before seen.

Ensure that the child knows how to deal with potential cyberbullying. The child shouldn't reply to cyberbullies, should keep the evidence, should block the bully and should tell an adult. Ensure that the child understands their online responsibilities and that they should be polite and considerate to others.

Selecting an iPhone

Selecting an iPhone neednt be an uphill struggle
Selecting an iPhone needn't be an uphill struggle

When you've decided on the budget for an iPhone, you'll need to source one.

Where money is no object, a brand new handset from Apple—or a mobile operator—might be considered. It's a very lucky child that receives the latest model iPhone. 

For many, where the budget is a consideration, this is likely to be last year's model—or one from the couple of years before that—perhaps from yourself or a family member whom has recently upgraded to a newer model. 

Passing iPhones down through the family is often the preferred option as you're likely to know the history of the device. You'll also be maximising the utility derived from the purchase.

If a hand-me-down iPhone is not available, instead consider the following:

BidVoy

BidVoy helps to determine the market rate for a product by using recent eBay sales
BidVoy helps to determine the market rate for a product by using recent eBay sales

Once you have a budget in mind, check BidVoy for the market rate of different models.

BidVoy is a website that analyses eBay sales in order to determine the current rate, and price trends over time, of different products—not just iPhones. BidVoy is available in the following countries:

At the time of writing, in the UK, the market rates are as follows: 

  • iPhone 4S 16GB (released Oct 2011)—£77
  • iPhone 5 16GB (released Oct 2012)—£121
  • iPhone 5S 16GB (released Oct 2013)—£195
  • iPhone 6 16GB (released Oct 2014)—£358

Whilst a few years old, the iPhone 4S is still a capable iPhone that is now available at a reasonable price. 

You can find the market rate, using BidVoy, without having to be an eBay customer which makes this a useful tool to work out whether you're getting a good deal wherever you decide to buy. 

Gumtree

Gumtree is a way to source secondhand iPhones local to yourself
Gumtree is a way to source secondhand iPhones local to yourself

Gumtree—owned by eBay—is a classified ads website where items may be advertised free of charge. Potential purchasers can view ads, in a given category, either nationwide or within a specific locality. 

Gumtree is free to use for buyers and sellers though it does attempt to up-sell vendors into paying for advertisements. Gumtree is best suited for local transactions conducted in person and can be a good way to see an actual device rather than buying it blind. 

eBay

eBay is the first choice for many when it comes to buying products
eBay is the first choice, for many, when it comes to buying products

Starting out as a garage sale auction site, eBay has grown into a marketplace and commerce solution for companies and individuals alike. 

Offering both fixed-price sales and auctions, eBay is suited to online transactions with payments between buyer and vendor handled by PayPal.

A consideration for vendors is that eBay and PayPal fees will typically take around 14.5%, cut of the final sale price, in commission. The buyer does not pay any commission charges. 

Local Computer Exchange Shops

Computer Exchange and similar shops are local sources for second hand iPhones
Computer Exchange and similar shops are local sources for second hand iPhones

Whether it's a local computer exchange or repair shop or an established national chain, such as CEX, buying on the high street means you can see before you buy. 

Whilst a national chain should check the provenance of the iPhone, using NMPR, it is a case of buyer beware with individual shops. 

Check Before Buying

Citizens Advice Bureau online
Citizens' Advice Bureau online

If it seems to good to be true, it often is. Use BidVoy to gauge the market rate for a device. Exercise common sense, check that the iPhone is not locked—or blocked—and ensure that you get a receipt for the device. If you have any concerns, walk away as there are plenty of other people selling iPhones.

Ensure that you do not purchase stolen goods; you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Citizens' Advice Bureau has advice should you purchase stolen goods, but it's better to avoid the situation in the first place. 

Unlocking and Unblocking—the Difference

Smartphones sold on contracts, by mobile phone operators, are often locked such that they will only work with a SIM card from that operator or one of the MVNOs that piggyback on their network. 

Unlocking a phone is legal and can be done by the mobile phone operating company, usually after the minimum contract term has been reached. 

If a phone is blocked, however, this is because the IMEI number of the handset has been registered as stolen and has been blocked to prevent the handset working with any network. 

Unlocking a phone is legal; unblocking a phone is illegal. 

iCloud Activation Lock

Activation Lock status can be checked on an Apple web page
Activation Lock status can be checked on an Apple web page 

Activation Lock is a feature, introduced in iOS 7, that's designed to prevent anyone else using an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch should it be lost or stolen. Activation Lock is automatically enabled when Find My iPhone is turned on. 

When buying a secondhand iPhone (iPad or iPod touch), it's important to ensure that the device has been erased and is no longer linked to the previous owner's account. 

The status of an iPhone's Activation Lock can be checked from Mac or PC by visiting www.icloud.com/activationlock 

Don't buy an iPhone until the previous owner has deregistered it.

Selecting a Voice and Data Contract

Buying an iPhone is one cost, being able to use it is another that requires a mobile contract for voice and data. There are thousands upon thousands of contracts available and making sense of them all can drive you to distraction.

Think about how the child will use the phone. Perhaps voice is more important as they'll be using data on Wi-Fi rather than cellular connections. Whatever your requirements, use a tool to automate the process for the right contract selection.

How to Compare all Mobile Phone Contracts

Billmonitor helps determine the best value contract
Billmonitor helps determine the best value contract

Buying an iPhone is only part of the cost. The requirement for a mobile voice and data contract will be an ongoing cost. Contracts vary hugely in costs and benefits and it is confusing to work out the best deal. 

To save time, and ensure you're getting the best deal, open a web browser and visit Billmonitor. Use the calculator to work out the best contract based upon the number of minutes, texts and the amount of data you require. 

Billmonitor will analyse just short of 2,999,829 contract combinations in a matter of moments. 

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I've shown you some of the things that you'll need to consider in order to set up an iPhone for your child, including the best ways to select an iPhone and the checks that you should do before buying and selecting a contract.

In the next part of the tutorial, I'll show you at the practicalities of setting up an iPhone for a child. I'll look at the apps to consider, online safety, the physicial safety of the device and ongoing device management.

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