Jess Kelly: Best back to school phones for students

As children all over Ireland go back to school after the summer holidays, Newstalk’s Jess Kelly...
Faye Curran
Faye Curran

15.59 29 Aug 2023

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Jess Kelly: Best back to schoo...

Jess Kelly: Best back to school phones for students

Faye Curran
Faye Curran

15.59 29 Aug 2023

Share this article

As children all over Ireland go back to school after the summer holidays, Newstalk’s Jess Kelly is here with some of the best ways to keep teens safe on their smartphones.

A new Newstalk poll released this morning shows that 30% of children spend between three and five hours on their digital devices after school.

The survey, carried out by Amárach Research, found that 63% of children spend up to two hours on devices every day.


Of the parents surveyed, 5% said their child spends more than 5 hours a day online, while 2% were not sure.

Newstalk School survey. Image: Newstalk Newstalk School survey. Image: Newstalk

Newstalk's tech correspondent Jess Kelly told The Pat Kenny Show that a lot of parents struggled to ensure their child is contactable while also bringing down screen time.

Jess recommended that parents use Google Family Link – a way to place parameters on screen time for children.

"If they are a TikTok fanatic, you can turn off access to TikTok tock from four in the afternoon till eight o'clock at night," she said.

"If this is your child's first phone and you're going for a smartphone, I would highly recommend the Google family link because it is free."


In July of this year, the Dutch Government announced they were banning all smart devices in secondary schools.

In Kerry and Wicklow, there has also been a ban on smartphone use in certain schools.

"The first port of call here is to check with the school what school policy is," Jess said.

"Whether it is primary or secondary, there will be a policy around phones – double check that before you spend a cent."

Basic option

The cheapest phone Jess recommended was the Nokia 105 – which costs €21.91.

"It does calls and texts ... it's incredibly, incredibly thin," she said.

"It's ideal for a parent who wants a child just to have a phone in the backpack in case of emergency."


Jess recommended parents do not spend over €200 on a smartphone for their children – which she suggested keeping in a durable phone case.

"I'd recommend the Samsung Galaxy A 14 – it's €199," she said. "It has a 50-megapixel camera, a 5000-milliamp battery, a nice big 6.6-inch display.

"It's Android so that has compatibility with the Google Family Link will work well."


If parents are looking to buy a refurbished phone, Jess recommends, Swappie and

"You can opt for what condition you want it to be in," she said. "If you want to be in nearly new, it's going to cost you a little bit more."

"If you're okay with a few scuffs and scratches ... it'll be a little bit cheaper.

"You will get a one-year warranty with it as well which is great."


Jess said parents should avoid bill-pay phone plans "like the plague".

"There's no point in getting into a 24 or 36-month contract for something like this," she said.

"Go to, they've got a brilliant map where you put in your Eircode and they'll tell you what network serves your area best.

"Top of the list in terms of service performance and value for me would be GoMo – it's €14.99 a month.

"48 – which runs on the back of the Three network – is €6.50 a month for three months ... after the first three months it's then €12.99.

"The Vodafone digital mobile network is €14.99 a month and the other option as well is Tesco mobile, which is €20 a month.

"Go on and have a read through what the offerings are –it's essentially the same thing."

The latest in a series of exclusive polls carried out by Amárach Research for Newstalk, today’s survey examines all things Back to School, from the length of the school year to ways students travel.

If you would like have your opinion heard and take part in a Newstalk Amarach poll, visit for more information.

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