Parental controls for child's first phone

Hi All,

My son will be starting secondary school in September and doing a reasonable solo walk to school and back each day.

We’re biting the bullet and getting him his first phone, so he can be contactable after school when he gets home and can contact us if any issues.

Right now I fully trust him to be responsible if he was to have his own phone, but I’m not sure what the “secondary school” version of him will be like. I’m keen to “police” his phone usage and was wondering what options there are and what people are using to restrict your kids phone usage? I’m thinking along the lines of restrictions or approvals on what apps can be downloaded and even time caps for apps if possible. And the usual age safe web browsing restrictions.

Not sure if control like this exists or where to start? Will most likely be a Samsung/Android phone.


A Nokia, will bounce nicely, you won’t have to worry about charging for a couple of weeks and it will be reliable. Not to mention not having to worry about any apps!

You can definitely set time limits for apps and probably for downloading apps.

My concern wouldn’t be what apps are being used, but who are they talking to on those apps. I have a good few years before I have to worry about this luckily, but my thoughts would be… I don’t want to read WHAT you’re saying to your friends, but I want to see WHO you’re messaging. That’s Bobby, he’s in my class. That’s Sarah, we’re in a club together. That’s Rodney, we play Minecraft together. That’s Jim, I think he’s someone’s Dad, but I’m not sure, he messages sometimes about meeting up.

I think for the time limits, this whiley kids have all sorts of ways around that!


This is a personal thing which depends on the parent/child relationship. I understand people like to police (see Google Family-link, which is a great start for Android phones) but we chose the freedom-to-be-in-control direction. After an initial sit-down to explain what we were doing, we’d do frequent check-ins to ensure things were going in the right direction, rather than the wrong. We were surprised at how responsible they actually were.

So many secondary school kids (if not all) have phones - it’s normal.

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I volunteer with a wide range of 13-16 year olds (Air Cadets) and almost none of them don’t - but as you rightly say, it’s a personal thing as to what level of control the parents feel is needed.

Love the look of Google Link. From a quick ahem google, it would appear the apple alternative isn’t quite as well placed out.

Personally, my partners son we worked on the basis of he had to keep his location shared, and be contactable whenever he was out. Worked out quite well, for us.

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Don’t want to worry anyone, but this part isn’t always foolproof. “I’m studying in the library after school” sounds good and it’s reassuring to see the phone is there… but some enterprising individuals can leave their phone somewhere ‘safe’ while they go into town for hijinks.

At the end of the day, though, phones weren’t around when I was at school and it never did us any harm. Rather, my concern would be with online bullying over social media or anonymous question websites. It’s shit enough getting bullied when you’re at school, I can’t fathom how awful it must be to have the building follow you at all times.

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