Cracked screens are my bread and butter. I’m always talking to desperate people who spent upwards of $600 on a phone and who regret not forking over a little extra for a case. For example, just this week, I had to work on:

  • A phone that had been sitting on a counter while someone was putting away dishes, and a coffee mug fell out and landed on the screen.
  • A computer screen that had been cracked by a four-year-old when he tripped while running with the computer.
  • The brand-new phone of a woman who dropped it in her own driveway – it slipped out of her hands on her way from the car to the house. The screen lasted however long the drive from the store to her house was.

I’m not saying a screen protector would have been helpful in every one of these cases (how about not running with a computer, or maybe not giving it to a four-year-old in the first place?) but some common sense and some protection would have helped a lot.

First, exercise some common sense. For example, nobody should run with a computer, never mind an uncoordinated four-year-old. That’s just a bad idea. And, as the parents learned, sometimes replacing the screen is actually moreexpensive than just buying a new computer. I know, makes no sense, right? So think about what you’re doing before you do it. Going to an amusement park? Maybe leave your phone in a rented locker before you go on that physically jarring roller coaster. Walking, holding something, and trying to text at the same time? Well, that’s going to end badly.

Second, get a case with some kind of grip on the back. These new devices are so shiny and sleek, they’re also very slippery, as the last lady found out. You can find many that will still allow wireless charging, reflect your personality, and look cool. You know, in addition to protecting your ridiculously expensive toy. Really, there’s no excuse for this. Just go to any electronics or big box store, mall kiosk, or even online. Everybody sells cases nowadays.

Third, if you’re not going to listen to any of my other advice, I at least recommend purchasing a screen cover to go over the front. What’s the point of protecting the metal parts of your phone from dings if the screen’s going to shatter when you drop it? They make both plastic and glass screen protectors now that will fit just about anything with a screen, from computers and tablets. Personally, I think that glass film is easier to apply, and it just looks better. However, for devices going to be used heavily by kids, I recommend using the plastic. The glass tends to shatter (it’s safety glass and sticky, so it isn’t like it is going to fall all over the place or be sharp to the touch, it just looks like the screen is trashed), whereas it takes a lot to snag or rip the plastic.

Finally, just be honest with yourself: you know you’re going to drop it at some point. Better to be protected than not!