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Kids phone illustration with pull-down screen Internet Safety Tips

Your Child’s First Phone: Tips and Tools That Every Parent Needs

Haley Zapal  |  December 19, 2019

Kids phone illustration with pull-down screen

**This blog post was updated on September 7, 2023.**

Whether you’ve been waiting for an important milestone or have just decided that it’s finally the right time, we know there’s a lot to consider when it comes to getting your kid their first phone. You probably know what to expect from your own device, but how kids' phones work is a whole different ball game with a completely separate set of rules — and dangers. In this post, we walk you through you everything you need to know to make sure this new rite of passage is as easy, fun, and safe as possible for your kid. We'll also give you the details on kids' phones that are good for families.

1. Pick the Perfect First Kid's Phone

Finding the perfect phone can take some legwork. Luckily, we’ve done the hard part for you and put together lists of devices that the Bark Team — as parents — would feel comfortable putting in the hands of our own children. Bark even has its own phone now — check out #8 down below.

2. Talk About the Digital Dangers Your Child May Face

When you give your child their first phone, you’re giving them keys to a larger world. But along with instant communication, access to educational resources, and unlimited entertainment come new dangers that our generation never had to deal with. These blog posts will help get you and your child up to speed on some of the issues that Generation Z faces online.

3. Set Parental Controls for Peace of Mind

Most kid's phones today come with built-in parental controls, which is important when you remember that they can allow the user to view sensitive or inappropriate content, make additional purchases and downloads, and chat with strangers. Use our comprehensive guide to parental controls — the one-of-a-kind Barkomatic — to prevent headaches, save valuable time, and help keep your kids safe online and in real life.

Generation Z uses social media platforms that may not be as popular with our generation. So how do you know if what they want to use is safe? The easiest way to determine if your child should have access to a certain platform is to test it out for yourself. These handy guides will also give you an idea of what’s age-appropriate for your child. Here’s what parents need to know about:

5. Make a Technology Contract Together

A technology contract is a great way for your family to collaborate on rules for using devices and accessing the internet. It can help make sure the whole family is on the same page about how to get the most out of technology, and — most importantly — how to be better protected online. The contract should answer questions such as who your child can talk to online, what hours of the day they can access their smartphone, what apps they can download, and what happens if the rules are broken. Use the guide below to get started with your kid's phone:

6. Lock Your Apps

Locking apps can be useful whether you want to keep your personal data out of your children’s hands or you want to prevent little ones from clicking on important apps. On Android devices, you can set up “screen pinning,” which you can find under your security settings. This allows you to create a PIN that’s required for your kid to exit an app. For Apple devices, you can use “guided access” found in your general settings under accessibility. Once you set up guided access, you can triple click the home button to configure your settings before handing your phone over to your child.

7. Monitor Online Activities with Bark

Kids today face many dangers when it comes to being online. Not only can they easily delete messages and images, make additional accounts, and hack the settings to get around these obstacles, but the default parental control settings also don’t allow you to really know what your kid is experiencing online. And what parent has time to read through every message, scroll through every feed, or watch every video that your child encounters?

Bark is the only monitoring solution that gives children privacy while giving parents insight into potential issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, depression/suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more. Check out the following blog posts for more information about what we monitor, how to talk to your child about our service, and what to do when you’re alerted to potential issues:

8. Consider a Bark Phone for the Best Kid's Phone

The Bark Phone is an absolute game-changer when it comes to online safety. It’s a Samsung A series that comes with Bark built in, as well as robust parental controls like GPS-powered location tracking, app management, call blocking, and more. Bark also can’t be deleted, and the parental controls are completely customizable so it grows with your child. The best part? It has a sleek and modern design, so teens and tweens will be excited to use it. Order yours today! The Bark Kid's Phone starts at $39/month with no contract required.

Is Your Child Ready For A Phone?

One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Bark is, “How do I know my child is ready for a phone?” So we made a quick and handy quiz to help you find out where your family stands!

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

mother and daughter discussing Bark Parental Controls