11 year old DD is asking for her first mobile - "everyone else has one" (they actually do), so we're looking at which phone to get, the pros and cons of PAYG vs low-cost contract, insurance etc. We could get her the very bottom of the range tenner handset with predictive texting and nothing else - but I'm aware it looks like what it is. For a few quid more there's the Blackberry-a-like Samsung Ch@t and Nokia 201 and while I know you can turn off 3g etc, I've not seen anywhere where a parent can get the network to disable all internet until further notice IYSWIM.
I know you can have parental controls on some networks which limit browsing by restricting the sites she could visit, but initially we'd rather this was wholesale, and as she gets older we could relax this.
Or is there a suitable phone on which I could disable say the browser and Bluetooth with a passcode that couldn't be overridden by the determined user?
The simple advice is talk to the phone companies or mobile shops in the high street. If you take a contract phone, you are paying monthly and securing this with your bank details / credit card, which gives you far less control on what happens. However, if you have a PAYG phone, you decide how much credit to add, so at least there will be a limit before the credit runs out. It is more expensive of course per phone call, as there will not necessarily be 'free minutes' or texts included.
If you go down the Blackberry route, be aware there are free messages possible between Blackberry users who share their pin numbers, and this has made them hugely popular with teenagers as there are no limits! This has its own pitfalls.
I suggest you look at each network provider and search for Parental Controls, but in general they are getting better and most will have them on as a default setting, which will need turning off (using credit card for proof of age) in order to access more internet 'features'.
The summary answer is, it is possible to limit what your dd may be able to do on her phone, but if she is really determined, she probably will find another way to do the things you want to stop! Therefore, get a cheap phone (in case it is lost or stolen) and have a good chat about your expectations.
As a parent of two daughters, we have a few conditions of use:
1. I know the password / unlock codes 2. If I am concerned, I will look at the phone 3. The phone is kept downstairs (turned off) to charge from 9pm (or whenever they go to bed) 4. They do not use it at the meal table 5. Anything else we decide as parents!!
Thanks - your conditions are virtually identical to those we've worked out.
Googling last week, I came across bemilo - a PAYG sim +safety subscription service that enables you to set time windows within which the child can call or text or access data. So I can set it to 7am - 9am and 3.30pm to 8.30pm weekdays and 7am to 8.30pm weekends for calls and texts, and turn data off altogether for now. Also she has to give me the numbers she wants to add to her phone, for me to add to the bemilo account. Then we can keep an eye on who she's talking to and for how long. And if any bullying occurs we can block that person immediately.
It's a bit Big Brothery, but she's still very young and we can loosen the reins a little as she gets older and proves she's responsible. I can log on and relax the restrictions whenever I like.
She had the choice between the most basic Nokia 100 or a colourful Blackberry lookey-likey 201 and chose the later, offering to pay some of the difference out of savings/pocket money.
Why don't more of us know about Bemilo?? It sounds like a good response to a lot of mothers' nightmares about cyberbullying and internet access. I'm researching a phone for my 10-year-old, started some weeks ago, and I've only just stumbled across it... when it was eventually mentioned in our local Carphone Warehouse as an afterthought, long after the discussion I had with them, about phone safety, started. I'm going to check it out.