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Handing Down a Mobile Phone to a child

It’s very common for a child’s first phone to be one handed down from a parent or other relative. It’s green, cost effective, and easy. Children especially love knowing they’re getting a phone that’s fit for an adult and not some ‘my first phone’ that has no power, features or street credibility.

But there are a few things to take care of if you’re going to choose the hand-me-down mobile phone option.

Setting up a phone for a child

Things to do before you hand a mobile phone down to a child

  • Check the manufacturing date of the phone and consider whether it is still supported and upgraded by the manufacturer
  • Wipe the phone completely – reset to factory settings – and ensure it is set up with a unique Apple ID or Google ID ( Or whatever the phone supports )
  • Check the battery life and do a hardware self-test to make sure all the components are working properly
  • Check that the phone is unlocked, and if not, get it unlocked BEFORE presenting it to the child!

Reliability of an old phone

This is likely a phone that you upgraded or replaced, exactly because it was starting to play up a little. Mobile phones are most unlike bottles of fine wine and don’t improve with age when left on their side in a dark drawer for extended periods of time. If it’s not been used for a while the chances are it’s even worse now than you remember it being. You could say to yourself “Ah, but it’s only for them to play with”, but when a phone is needed, it’s a vital lifesaver. The stress caused by an inability to contact is huge, and old mobile phones DO FAIL!

Some common telltale symptoms of an ageing phone might include:

  • Phone screen freezing or being unresponsive
  • Battery life that suddenly nose-dives unexpectedly
  • Calls not connecting or people reporting they have called you but your phone didn’t ring
  • Updates that won’t apply

It could well be that the phone could be upgraded or repaired with a new battery or screen – and it may have plenty of life left in it, but in our experience, repaired phones can be far less that excellent – especially when carried out using non-standard components or processes. So watch out for this.

Old Configuration and Data

We had a call at ParentShield a while back from a customer who had handed his old phone down to his daughter, and the phone was still authorised and logged into his personal iCloud account. Not only had she managed to spend a significant amount of money on apps, she then tried to cover it up by deleting the iCloud account and succeeding in wiping the parent’s cloud storage, all his contacts and entire history and photo gallery.

It’s a real problem we see happen every day. If it’s not security or financial risk, there are also considerable communication issues that will be introduced that we discuss in our page about problems with iMessage and FaceTime. Android users are not immune from the same problems.

Longevity of the new phone

Handing down a phone means thinking about how long you are expecting the user to be using the phone. Modern Phones are being quickly superseded with updated hardware and firmware and manufacturers really would like you to be upgrading every two to three years at the outside. If the phone was in your use for two years, and has been in a drawer for a year the chances are it has a limited amount of life left before it’s no longer supported by security and System updates.

Apple are particularly bad for this , and at the time of writing iPhone 7 is the oldest supported device, with everything older unable to download the latest software and updates. Three or four years is realistically about as old as the hardware can get before firmware and software updates start drying up – leaving a phone that’s potentially buggy and vulnerable to attack and viruses.

Older phones also have operating systems and firmware that don’t support the latest encryption protocols so many people find that the handed-down phone won’t run WhatsApp or some other application that the child considers life or death.

Unlock that phone

If your phone was provided on a contract by any of the major networks there is a good chance that it is locked so it will only work with a SIM card provided by that network. It’s a dirty practice that is being outlawed but still persists. Check out the Unlocking Guide for help sorting this out. If you are going to purchase a ParentShield SIM then the phone WILL need to be unlocked. If you don’t know whether your phone is locked then the chances are high that it is.

Unlocking a phone is easy, but will take a day or so, so do the checks as soon as possible and get it unlocked before handing it over.

If you are in any doubt – order a ParentShield SIM. Put it in the phone and if it works, the phone is unlocked, if not, then it’s locked. We will always extend the first month to give you time to unlock the phone and still get a full first month.

Remember, Back-to-School and Christmas are very busy periods for Mobile Networks, so there may be longer delays at this time. If you are Buying a Mobile Phone for a Child at Christmas or Back-to-School then allow extra time.

We regularly start taking Back-to-School orders in July and Christmas orders in November and will happily start the billing off when they are going to begin using it. This gives you plenty of time to get all the things in the box sorted, and get familiar with the extensive and powerful ParentShield Portal.

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