Getting a Phone Plan When You are Under 18

Why is it important to be over 18 before getting a Phone Plan?

Today’s generation are more technology savvy than ever before. Nowadays, children as young as 10 have their own smartphones and other connected devices, and this is the norm.

There’s an ongoing debate about what this though — we’re still trying to figure out the right age to use smartphones. While many are of the school of thought that children below the age 14 are too young to use smartphones, many more are of the argument that the use of smartphones is totally dependent on the child.

The former school of thought has reason to be concerned. Smartphones provide internet access, where children can be exposed to adult content such as pornography, as well as online bullies and a myriad of other unsafe activities. The latter school of thought simply notes that communication mechanisms are moving forward, hence children should be given the opportunity to experience this growth.

A graphic table showcasing the trends in usage as experienced by smartphone users aged 14-17

A graph by Roy Morgan highlighting the behaviours in smartphone use by teens aged 14-17. Source

While there is no “right“ age to get a phone and plan, it is generally advisable to get a phone plan when you’re over 18. By doing so, you will be able to benefit from certain perks offered by telcos, such as installment phone plans, reward systems, and many more. Should you choose to subscribe to a phone plan before you turn 18, you’d be limited to prepaid phone plans.

What is a prepaid plan?

Over the last decade, the Australian telecommunications industry has seen enormous growth. According to reports offered by top financial firm Deloitte, the industry is currently worth $23 billion. By 2023, it’s expected to be worth $65 Billion, almost triple the current amount. This growth has come with a lot of choice for the consumer, ranging from postpaid to prepaid plans.

Once regarded as the least glamorous of phone plans, prepaid plans are becoming increasingly popular amongst mobile phone subscribers. These plans require the subscriber to pay service fees before they can be fully rendered. Simply put, in order to carry out any activities on the network, the subscriber must make payment first. Services include calls, messages, and data for internet access.

A breakdown of Australia’s phone service plan market.

Prepaid plans take up 45% of the Australian mobile phone service plan market. Source: Whatphone

Prepaid plans are offered by all major Australian telcos (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone) as well as numerous MVNOs.

Benefits of prepaid plans over postpaid plans for users under 18

For users below the age 18, prepaid phone plans pose a unique set of benefits over postpaid plans, such as:

  • Ease of access — On prepaid plans, services straightforward and can be accessed easily by individuals below 18. Unlike postpaid plans, these plans do not require contract or credit checks; both activities that cannot be undergone by individuals below 18.
  • Widely available — Prepaid plans are widely available. They are offered by all major telcos as well as many Individuals are at liberty to pick from a slew of available networks.
  • Affordability — Generally, prepaid plans are perceived as more affordable than other types of phone plans. For those under 18, who likely don’t earn a lot of money, prepaid plans are perfect.
  • Short term plans — Most prepaid plans are short term, ranging from 28 to 31 days maximum. This allows users to maintain flexibility.
  • No overage charges — There are no overage charges with prepaid plans. Once the subscriber runs out of the allocated minutes, messages or data, the service simply shuts off. This is particularly beneficial to the parents of the user who’s under 18, as the parent will likely be footing their phone bills.

Final words: What’s more expensive, your phone or the service?

Phone plans — devices and service plans inclusive — can be expensive. Nowadays, smartphones cost as much as thousands of dollars, while some service plans could cost hundreds of dollars a month. For subscribers who already have their own mobile devices — with prepaid plans — service would definitely cost more in the long run. If a device that costs $650 uses a phone plan worth $150 per month, by the fifth month, the service would already cost more than the device.

Sources

  • https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/21/technology/personaltech/whats-the-right-age-to-give-a-child-a-smartphone.html

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.