There we go, my nephew will go to highschool after the summer break an it was about time for a mobile phone for him. Obviously there are two general choices. Either a dumb phone that can only be used for voice calls and text messaging or a smartphone that pretty much opens up the world. There's not much in between the two extremes.
The first choice would probably not bring him very far and he himself was quite insistent that he wants to play games. Quite understandable for a 10 year old. Se we finally decided to go for a smartphone. But for the moment he hasn't used the Internet much and he is perhaps still a bit too young to act responsively, to fall into the first trap that he comes across on a web page or finds stuff that is not for his age. So what to do?
From a pricing point of view, Android phones have become very affordable and if he breaks a 100 euro device, which kids tend to do, it's not the end of the world. Also, there are about a gazillion app locker apps in the Android market that just seem to do what I want: Lock access to apps that should be off limits for the moment. That includes the web browser and the Android app market. After playing around a bit I selected App Locker as it worked quite well on my device and protects app execution with a password. The browser, Google maps and the app store are now protected.
One could also block access to settings to ensure the device is not reset to get rid of the app locker or to prevent the deactivation of the side loading blocker to install an alternative browser. But perhaps once he figures that out, he's old enough for the Internet anyway…
One thing I didn't like: The app requires full Internet access rights and wants to read the phone state and ID. Not quite what I have in mind as a privacy concerned person but at least it doesn't want to access the address book and other sensitive private information which would be totally unacceptable. Also, the device is not connected to the Internet anyway as Wi-Fi and packet data is turned off. And once it gets connected to the Internet the app can be deleted anyway.