At what age should your kids have a mobile phone? Currently 90% of 11-16 year olds have a mobile and yet friends tell me their kids, some as young as 7 years old are also badgering them for a phone. The thinking seems to be that kids need phones, because mobile phones keep children safer by allowing them to keep in close contact with their parents. Having said that most of the 13 year olds I know don’t use their phones for this purpose and their parents say they are lucky if their kids ever have enough credit to call them.
Anyway with back to school coming up fast the subject of whether to buy kids mobile phones or not is once more in the news. Aside from schools banning mobile phones in class, and some parents saying kids don’t need them, if you have a tween/teen it’s more than possible you’re considering the idea of buying one. If so, it pays to know some of the financial pitfalls of giving your child a phone and what you can do to avoid them before they bankrupt you.
Don’t be like my friend Jules who’s daughter has just landed her with a gigantic bill of data charges thanks to surfing Facebook while on holiday and another mum I know who’s 7 year old has been buying game apps on her iPhone without her knowing.
To give you a helping hand with what to buy and how to safeguard yourself Hannah Bouckley editor of Recombu.com the mobile phone news and review site says her top five tips for picking a phone for kids are as follows:
1. Cap your child’s bill so they can’t run up high monthly costs. T-Mobile and Tesco Mobile offer a great service which allows parents to do this.
2. If your child already has a phone, consider a SIM-only 30-day tariff above Pay As You Go. These usually offer better value for money and you can renew it automatically.
3. Ask your network operator if you can add another phone to your own account, this is often cheaper and it means you can monitor calls and costs.
4. Consider a SIM card which just includes texts which will allow you to ensure huge phone bills are not run up on calls.
5. All the networks offer parental controls for blocking adult content. Contact your network operator to activate this, especially if you are passing your old phone to your child.
So are you buying your child a mobile? Let us know.