Sometimes it seems the children of younger and younger ages are demanding their own mobile phone, and this can become another onerous addition to the monthly household budget. The suitable age for a first phone can result in a lot of family banter, but most parents will want to their children to have one by the time they attend secondary school at age 11. As many children will travel to school by themselves at this age, and often by public transport, a mobile can provide peace of mind to protective parents. Either way, having a phone for the first time is a milestone towards adult life, and will provide your child with many new ways to communicate with the outside world and their friends.
So how do parents not only control the way in which their children use their phones, but also keep control of costs associated with.
All of the major mobile providers offer deals for groups of people. Sometime they are specially aimed at families like Vodaphone Family or the can be more general products like Orange Your Group. All allow free calls between members of the group and some include free text messaging. The key account holder will pay a monthly fee; typically around £5-7 making this a great money saver for the family that likes to stay in touch.
Smartphone or Feature Phone
A Smartphone blurs the line between a computer and a phone offering an infinitely expandable platform for our lives. For children this may include social media and internet chat services. Prices start at £100 for a Samsung Galaxy Y, which offers Android flexibility. These phones can be very addictive, resulting in silent meal times so responsible use must be encouraged. They can also increase the chance of being a victim of crime so a more basic model may be the better route.
Sim only packages offer the cheapest mobile phone deals. If you have an old phone that is acceptable to your child then for as little as £10/month they can be up and running. Slightly dearer packages come with unlimited text bundles that may suit your text-addicted offspring.
Capping those bills
Even a child can soon run up large bills, so pay as you go may be the best option. This will keep a lid on costs and educate your child about responsibly using their phone. Many pay as you go contracts offer free talk or text bundles – matching these to your child’s requirements will further reduce the bills. Finally, if they are using a Smartphone, encourage use of WIFI rather then 3G wherever possible as tariffs with generous data allowances are very expensive.
Mobile phones are delicate devices, and if you choose to but your child an expensive model then insurance is recommended. If you opt for the insurance your carrier provides be sure to check the fine print. It may also be cheaper to add the phone to your household insurance schedule