For parents who feel the time is right to give their child a cell phone, the move can be a great way to allow an adolescent to enjoy some newfound personal freedoms and, at the same time, learn some tech-related responsibilities. Simultaneously for the parents, giving a child a mobile phone offers a constant, direct line of communication and a way to stay abreast of a child’s location at any time.
Often, though, the move can inspire a common finance-related concern among parents, a fear that the child’s data usage on his or her new toy/tool could break the bank. But by taking the following steps, parents can ensure that their child’s phone usage (and the resulting bill amount) is kept in check:
- Lay down the ground rules: When the cellphone is provided, parents should be clear in letting their kids know when, where and how much use is allowed, along with what types of use (i.e. sites visited, people communicated with, etc.) are OK. It might even be a good idea to write these ground rules down, in addition to determining in advance what the consequences of violating the rules are.
- Set a good example: Of course, in addition to talking the talk, parents should walk the walk when it comes to cellphone usage. For example, if the kids aren’t allowed to use their phones at the dinner table or during other family time, parents should model the behavior they are expecting to see from the kids. After all, the “do what I say, not what I do” is rarely as effective at molding kids’ habits as setting a strong example.
- Employ usage-tracking notifications/app restrictions: FTC individual data plans will let users know when they are nearing their data limits, so parents should instruct their children to pay close attention— especially if the kids are hitting the data limits quickly. Further, iPhone and Android phones both allow for certain apps to be restricted (and accessible only via an access code) or placed in a child-friendly section of the phone to which kids’ usage is limited. Either of these options allows parents to control their kids’ app usage and keep them out of apps they don’t want them using.
- Teach them to tap into Wi-Fi: Of course, when a Wi-Fi signal is available, kids don’t have to burn through their data allowances and run the risk of overage charges. They can instead connect to Wi-Fi and avoid using any mobile data. Parents should teach kids how to recognize whether they are using mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection, as well as how to connect to a Wi-Fi signal when one is available.
Ready to upgrade your family to a wireless plan that eliminates all your overage-charge worries? Check out FTC’s Unlimited Plans for options that do away with data limits and let the entire family stream, download and watch videos to their heart’s content.