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Is your teen or tween ready for their first cell phone? Tips for parents and kids

by Nadine on April 6, 2018

Is your teen or tween ready for their first phone? Do you follow a certain age, or specific requirements?

For us it came down to safety and logistics – it allows for a bit more freedom for everyone, especially with summer coming.

It’s a good idea to discuss your expectations with your kid before, regardless of why they need it. When and how they’re allowed to use it, limits on use, and what are the consequences if they don’t follow those rules. Also, make sure they will be following the rules of their school too – those really vary by school and grades.

We didn’t need a data plan, since can just use wifi at home and the phone is only for reaching us. That’s the first thing you’ll have to decide – do you want a full cell phone plan, or do you want to go for a reduced plan? Some parents choose to get the kids full plans and get rid of their home phones. There’s a lot of options and choices to be made. There are great deals for a lot of plans that have a contract – so you’ll have to decide if the need would stay the same for a year or two years.

I expected it to be a simple thing to do – just go in and get a phone and a plan. If you have your own phone (leftover from mom or dad etc.) you can get that hooked up to a plan right away. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to purchase a phone, or look for a plan that includes the phone. We were looking for the cheapest plan, and didn’t have our own phone. You can choose to go to your regular cell provider, or a number of places that sell prepaid phones and plans too. Walk through the mall and you’ll see them everywhere! It ended up taking us quite a while to find the right phone and plan and to get it all organized. There’s a lot of fine print to read and figure out.

Before you go, decide what your kid will be using. Do they need data? Will they be making a lot of calls, or would it be mostly texts? Will they be texting or calling parents, siblings, friends or family?

One thing we learned which was surprising, and something to really watch out for. There are cell phone plans that only cover incoming texts and calls…..the phone cannot send anything out. I have no idea why that’s a plan, but it is. So, if you want to text and call your kid, but never have them be able to respond….this is the plan for you 😉 I really couldn’t come up with any scenario why that plan would work – any ideas?

Another thing is if you’re only doing text and calls – don’t expect to be able to text your kid pictures, or them to send you any. Pictures are considered data on every prepaid plan we found. Not a huge deal, but if it’s something that matters to you, it’s good to ask and check if that’s included in the plan.

Another good thing to check is what happens if they go over the limits on their plan – do you get notified when it’s close, or over? How much over can they go? Good to ask, especially if it’s going right on your credit card every month.

Ask about promotions, specials, deals etc. before you make any choices. It’s a good idea to shop around for a plan, and see what fits your needs. If you don’t have a phone to use, ask around if a friend or family member has one – huge savings right there.

Lastly, make sure to get a good phone case! You can get the case right at the store, or head to amazon and order one up. Can save you a lot in the long run!

We needed a phone, so we went with a different company than we planned, to get a huge deal on the phone. The plan ended up being more a month than we planned – but it’s unlimited text and calls. Figured it’s a good plan for summer, and after that I plan on switching to a super cheap yearly plan instead. Just make sure that you can cancel the plan at any time if you think your needs will be changing for it.

 

 

 

 

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