A phone case is an essential accessory for your child’s cell phone. Of course, your kid will want a case to make their phone look cool. For parents, the right cell phone case can provide another layer of protection from damage. How many times have dropped your own cell phone? Probably too many times to count, right? Now imagine a cell phone in the hands of your child. Not only are most phones not designed for small hands, but let’s face it, kids tend to be more careless and accident prone than adults.
It doesn’t cost that much to get a decent cell phone case and it is well worth the investment. There are many terrific aftermarket cases that are typically cheaper than those you can buy directly from your wireless provider.
I recommend a solid case made of rubberized and/or non-slip material. Make sure the case is a custom fit for your child’s phone. Remember a good cell phone case not only looks cool it also protects the phone from damage.
Every new cell phone comes with a factory issued cell phone charger as part of the standard bundle. This is good and it’s best to instruct your child to keep the charger in the same location and charge their phone consistently. For example, I have my children keep their phone charger accessible on their bedside table so their phone can be charged overnight while they sleep. This charger never leaves the bedside table. Since we are dealing with kids here, try to keep things simple: One charger, kept in a permanent location at home and a second charger for travel/ad-hock use.
I especially recommend getting a second charger if your child is often overnight at friend’s, if your family travels a lot, or if the cell phone cannot last through an entire day on a nightly charge. Imagine this, “Mom I forgot my charger at home can you bring it over to Kayla’s house? I need it before we leave for the shore tomorrow morning”. Of course, Kayla lives thirty minutes away and it’s 11:30 PM on a Tuesday.
Also, it’s good insurance to have a back-up charger. If one charger breaks, your child won’t be without a phone until a new charger can be obtained.
Again, this is a cost vs. risk vs. convenience decision. For me, the low cost of an extra charger far outweighs the likely inconvenience of not having a second charger. Just make sure the charger is made for your child’s cell phone and establish some rules for use as I described.
A cell phone headset offers hands-free convenience while talking on the phone. There are two primary reasons for making sure your child has a good headset: convenience and safety. A good headset is an essential accessory for your child’s cell phone especially if they are old enough to drive (or even ride a bike). I also prefer my child to uses a headset because it eliminates the need to hold the cell phone directly against their head and reduces exposure to cell phone emissions. I know there is a lot of debate on this topic but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Headsets can be either wired or wireless (Bluetooth). Here’s a description of both types and the pros and cons of each:
Wired headsets typically have two ear buds that connect to a wire that is plugged into the cell phone. This type of headset looks very similar to earphones that you plug into an iPod. The only difference is there is a little microphone attached to the neck wire that picks up sound.
Wired Headset Advantages:
- Sound quality is typically better than a wireless headset.
- Easy to use. This is especially important if your child is young. No pairing required. Just plug and play.
- No power required so you do not have to charge a wired headset.
- Can also be used as earphones so you child can enjoy listening to non-phone call audio from their cell phone, such as music, video, games, etc.
Wired Headset Disadvantages:
- Wires! Tangled wires. Wires getting caught on things. Bulky storage in you pocket or bag.
- No or minimal direct control or “smarts” with a wired headset. Most phone functions (dialing, muting, volume adjust, etc.) need to be performed on the phone itself.
- Most wired headsets are made with an ear-bud for both ears. Some people would prefer only having a single ear occupied for phone conversations.
Wireless headsets rely on Bluetooth technology to transmit the wireless audio signal to and from the cell phone. The headset is a single unit that can be worn on either ear. Once the wireless headset is “paired” with your child’s cell phone, the cell phone needs to remain within a reasonable distance of your child in order for the Bluetooth signal to remain connected. For example the cell phone can remain in your child’s pocket or backpack. In order to use a Bluetooth headset your child’s phone must be support Bluetooth technology. Don’t worry, this a standard feature on most modern cell phones.
Wireless (Bluetooth) Headset Advantages:
- No wires! Enough said.
- Most wireless (Bluetooth) headsets feature voice controlled dialing, muting and on ear volume control, among other features.
- Most wireless headsets only need be worn on one ear.
Wireless (Bluetooth) Headset Disadvantages:
- Sound quality is not as reliable/good as a wired headset. Quality may vary from one unit to another. Read product reviews and get a quality unit.
- The pairing process may be a challenge for younger children
- Wireless headsets have their own power source and therefore must be charged just like a cell phone.
For me, the most important factor is sound quality on both ends of the line. The age of your child is also an important factor since wireless headsets require the user to be a little more technically savvy. Once you decide on the type of headset you want, I recommend that you read the reviews before you buy. Pay particular attention to sound quality and battery life (for wireless headsets). For the most part, as long as your child’s phone has Bluetooth it will work with any Bluetooth device. The same is true for wired headsets.
A screen protector is a thin, clear, plastic cover that is custom made to fit your child’s cell phone. Once the screen protector is applied to the face of the cell phone it adds an extra layer of protection against scratches and cracks. A child’s cell phone is highly susceptible to scratches, dirt, and cracks. Adding a decent screen protector is a great investment.
With more and more cell phones becoming touch screen only, cell phone screen size has increased. As a result, there is more screen area to damage and the screen is the most easily damaged component of a cell phone.
A good screen protector will fit your child’s phone perfectly. Make sure the screen protector is custom made for your child’s phone. Also, look for a screen protector that is easy to install and self-adhering. User reviews are the best source for verifying this before purchase.
Overall, a good screen protector is a cheap way to insure against costly damage to your child’s cell phone. While a screen protector won’t prevent screen damage entirely, the extra protection is well worth the relatively minimal investment.
Does your child drive? Did you know that of all 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones (NHTSA)?
As a parent, if your child drives or has friends that drive, it is crucial that you enforce strict cell phone usage rules. In addition to rules, there are cell phone accessories specifically made for use in a vehicle that can improve cell phone safety in automobiles:
One accessory that improves car cell phone safety for your child is a Bluetooth car kit. If your child’s vehicle is not factory equipped with Bluetooth technology, you can still add this with a Bluetooth car kit. A Bluetooth connection will allow your child to answer calls, place calls, and talk hands-free without the need to look away from the road.
Similar to Bluetooth but more basic, is a car speakerphone. A car speakerphone allows the audio signal from your child’s phone to be hooked into the car’s speaker system. The benefit is that your child will not need to hold the phone up to their ear while speaking. Unlike a Bluetooth connection, car speakerphones still typically require dialing and answering by hand. A car speakerphone is not as good as a Bluetooth, however they are generally cheaper and are still much safer than not having any hand-free device at all.
Another accessory to consider is a car cradle or mount for your child’s cell phone. This is particularly useful if your child will be using their phone as a GPS navigation device. A cell phone car mount allows the phone to be mounted in a fixed location in-line with the road. An unmounted navigation system can be extremely dangerous since the driver is frequently distracted, looking down in their hand or console
The final accessory I want to mention is a car charger. While a car charger is not really a safety device it does offer a level of convenience. Although, if your child were to be traveling away from home without their home charger, a car charger can be a lifesaver. Again, for the relative low cost, a car charger is worth the investment.
What other accessories have you seen for children with cell phones? I’d like to hear about anything you have found useful from a safety or convenience standpoint. Thanks!