Every parent has felt the strain involved in deciding whether and when to give their child a phone. That’s just the start of the problem. When they’ve got a phone, they need a phone plan.
It appears that every year, kids expect to get their first phone (usually an iPhone) and a younger and younger age. Most children are extremely effective at utilizing the 'safety' argument. They know you need to be accessible to them at any time, in case of a crisis, and they know how to leverage that into a connected phone.
Advice varies of course but generally, the ‘right’ age to pick up a phone is considered by the experts to be somewhere between the ages of 7 and 9 years old.
There are cheap plans out there for you
First of all, the range of phone plans available is unprecedented. If it's a while since you've gone shopping, prepare to be amazed at what’s on offer. The cost of phone plans fell nearly 4% last a year. Data inclusions nearly doubled over the same period. These days, expect to spend just between $10 and $30 a month for a basic phone plan.
Go prepaid to keep a close eye on those bills
Prepaid plans are great for kids. The most straightforward approach to deal with the possibility of runaway phone bills is to give your youngster a prepaid SIM and plan. When you recharge the prepaid service, you know that recharge value is the most you'll be spending, until the point that you deliberately top the administration up once more. Prepaid puts cost control firmly in your hands. Prepaid also makes a lot of sense for kids since no credit check is required to sign up.
Opt for shared plans
Another opportunity for families has shared plans. The big phone companies in Australia – Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, all offer shared data products, which can work out well from a family perspective. They have two noteworthy advantages and one thing to watch out for.
To begin with, the vast majority of people using these shared plans have some variety in the quantity of data they use every month. One month, one family member will use a great deal of data, a little while later they’ll use less. Family or shared plans help you to even out these peaks and troughs over the whole family with one person’ trough in usage offsetting another’s peak.
This kind of plan is provided with some fantastic self-service facilities. They're simple to manage the phone company app. Whoever takes on the mantle of dealing with the phone bills for the family, regardless of whether it's the mother or father, can simply add more data to a family member’s plan, stop someone using more data and simply add/remove users from the shared plan.
Tell them no video!
The greatest influence on the amount of data you use in a phone plan is video. Just one High Definition YouTube video – even 60 minutes of a TV show, watched over a 4G connection, can use up to one GB of data. My god-daughter isn’t the slightest bit interested in the accounting or bill, she just wants to watch TV in the car. That can make for a big monthly reckoning when it comes to paying for the plan
But of course, it’s not just the financial side which is a concern, many parents, understandably, worry about exactly what video is being watched and, specifically, it's suitability for them. That’s where parental locks come in.
Consider a plan with parental locks
OVO is one phone company which has seen a previously unmet need that many parents have. OVO's plans’ design includes a small ‘pocket money’ sized data allowance on a prepaid plan. OVO’s prepaid offering begin at around $10 for a plan with some voice minutes (not that the kids will use those) and 1GB of data.
Possibly most impressive, however, the bill payer can accesses 'free' Parental Lock programming. Utilizing an application you get with the plan, for no monthly charge, you can blacklist boycotted sites which may have the wrong kind of content, and monitor what your children are doing on the web. You can even set a period for data access to stop on their phone – say 9 PM at night - with the goal that they really must put the phone down and rest when it automatically shuts off access to the internet.
Summing up kid’s phone plans
Counting your child’s prepaid plan as a feature of their pocket money allows your children to learn a bit about how the world works and what phone services cost. Do it right, using the suggestions on this page and you may even discover they start to use a bit less data, now they know what it costs. And while they do, if you’re using the parental lock software, you know they’ll be safe online