One of the big decisions we make as parents is when to let our child have a mobile phone. There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding, but one of the big things is that giving your child a smartphone means that you are giving them unsupervised access to the internet. Then there is choosing the right phone plan for kids. Kids can eat through phone data like crazy thanks to video streaming and games, and many parents have found themselves with a giant phone bill thanks to their children.
This post is in collaboration with amaysim
So how do you know when your child is ready for their own phone? Let’s take a look at some of the issues:
When should my child get a mobile phone?
Cyber Security and Social Media
As parents, we need to keep our kids just as safe on the internet as we do in their day to day lives. We need to monitor what social media and apps they are using, who has access to their details and how they are conducting themselves online. Before agreeing to get your child a mobile phone make sure they understand that.
You need to have all their passwords and pins. If they don’t agree to this then they can’t have a phone. There can be no secrets.
They’re only allowed to download apps that you have authorized. To make sure this happens, don’t give them your iTunes password and make sure a password is required for all app downloads, even free ones.
If your child wants to download an app that you don’t know, then you need to check it out first. As parents, we can’t make an informed decision without knowing the facts. If it’s a new social media app then how do the security settings work? What will your child be exposed to? Can strangers speak to them?
Same goes with online gaming. What is the premise of the game? What is it rated? Can strangers talk to your child within the game? It’s vitally important you don’t write off these apps just because you don’t know them and they seem harmless.
If you are allowing your child to use social media then ensure their profile is private, they don’t have any info in their profile that shows where they live, their school or their sporting teams. Also, they must NEVER add anyone they don’t know, that they haven’t met in person. One of the biggest issues with teens is that they think they know someone because they have a mutual friend. But this doesn’t mean that the mutual friend knows them either. So, if they haven’t met them in real life, they can’t add them online.
Be aware that giving a phone to your child means that they are now accessible to the outside world 24/7. This means that any issues with peers at school can follow them home and online bullying through social media can be a problem. If you are giving your child a phone, then it’s important that it goes away once they get home. This disconnects them from what’s going on with their friends and social group for a while and brings them back to home mentally. It’s really important for their mental health to have time away from their device.
Why are you buying your child a phone?
There are a number of reasons parents consider buying phones for their children. We all know that eventually, they will have one but when is the right time for your child? Some of the reasons for buying a phone may include:
Travel to and from school and sport
Once kids start travelling to and from school and sport on their own then many parents want their child to have a phone for safety reasons. It means that you and your child can be in contact if travel plans go wrong and if they get stranded. It’s definitely great for peace of mind. In this instance, you might want to look at buying a ‘dumb phone’ with no internet access. Calls and texts only!
Your child may be feeling pressured by their friends to have a phone and this will definitely be passed on to you. You may be hearing, “but everyone else has one!” but this usually isn’t true and you need to make sure you make the right choice for your family. Oh and remember, if it’s so your child can have social media, all social media companies say users need to be over 13, for a reason.
You feel they are ready
If you are buying your child a phone because you feel like they are ready and responsible then that’s great! Just make sure that there are clear rules and expectations in place around usage and everything we discussed at the top of the article.
How to choose the best mobile plan for your child
So, you’ve decided to go ahead and give your child a mobile phone. The next step is pairing their new phone with a kid-friendly plan. Wait a second, what are the best kid-friendly mobile plans?
First, you need to look at how they’re using the phone. If it’s just a phone for calling and texting, then amaysim’s $10 mobile plan, that includes unlimited talk and text is the great option at a rock solid price.
Alongside unlimited local Australian calls and text, you’ll also receive a 1GB of data. The perfect option for kids who don’t plan on using the internet capabilities of their phone too much.
If you have a kid that’s going to use the internet a touch more, then you definitely want to look at a prepaid plan that won’t let them go over their allocated amount and end up costing you a fortune.
To avoid that, choose something like amaysim’s $30 UNLIMITED mobile plan, which provides a generous 10GB per month. The best phone plans for kids, in general, are prepaid. It teaches them to manage their data and won’t result in bill shock at the end of the month.
When do you think kids should get a mobile phone?