Kids Don’t Think Out of the Box When it Comes to Data and Cost

providing the internet for kids

Mobile phones and smartphones are necessary for all different types of communication but there are some phone facilities that have become cheaper over time, while data has stayed practically static. The main additions are the installation of faster connection speeds like 4G which practically everyone in Australia has access to. You have probably discovered that despite phones getting cheaper the plans that go with them can mount up in cost. You have your own phone management to deal with, let alone your kids. However there are ways you can keep your children’s data down without upsetting them too much.

Facts You Should Consider Before Buying Your Child’s Phone and Plan

The use of the phone will first of all depend on your child’s age. Generally, primary age kids won’t be so bothered about social networking, but when they get the hang of the phone they may become surprisingly good at downloading data packed games and even data guzzling YouTube. Just a small mention here that a 90 minute YouTube could gobble up a whopping 2GBs of data!!

Teenagers, on the other hand, could download numerous photos of their favourite pop idols and of course will be twittering away on Facebook and Twitter trying to accumulate a large following and uploading selfies for all to see. Older teens might be sports fanatics and might home in on footy or cricket if given the chance, the boys at least. So, you are confronted with a lot of scenarios here and with a bunch of children who don’t know the value of money and think that parents have a bottomless pit of it.

Who Will Pay For the Data?

Don’t bank on your teen or youngster being data saving savvy, so you will have to place a cap on data use if you are paying the bill. You can allocate pocket money for the data but your child will have to take some responsibility for its use.

Data Plans Available  

There are 3 main telcos in Australia that offer both post paid and prepaid plans. Prepaid plans in reality are the best option for children and teens as once the data has run out for the set period there is no more at the same rate until the next cycle begins. The cheapest pre-paid plans come with a bring-your-own phone option (BYO), loads of included minutes and texts with a range of data options.

Example One

One example is for an Optus prepaid which is MyMix 1 and lasts for 7 days and offers 500 MB of data plus 120 minutes of talk time and unlimited texts. This could be a good starter and there is no need to buy a phone tied to Optus but use your own unlocked phone or preferably buy a new one at a good price. There are many choices available.

Example Two

If your child is a secret teen and won’t tell you anything about preferences and obsessions you may consider Optus My Prepaid Ultimate for $60 for 28 days. That’s if you think he or she is really worth the expense. You get with this deal unlimited talk time and texting to national phones and standard international numbers in certain named countries. Data rollover up of up to 15GB is part of this deal if you recharge before the monthly expiry date, double data deal for new users up to 5th February so that means for the 1st month you will have 22GB to consume with 11GB for following months. Free streaming of music on specified apps is added up to 16th July 2017. This is a BYO option.

Those two examples have been selected out of hundreds of other possible deals from the 3 main telcos or Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOS) of which there are many across the country.

Ways to Restrict Your Child’s Data Usage

This is going to take up some teaching time so that your child knows what to do to get the most out of the data. Read carefully and see what your child can in reality learn.

  • Monitor Data Usage: 
    Android devices have an inbuilt monitoring feature but the app “Onavo Count”, can be downloaded for use with both iOS and Android and it logs your data usage.
  • Turn off the Data For Apps: 
    On your iOS device go to the Settings then to Cellular and switch off cellular data for the particular app thus stopping data being gobbled up unknown to you. On your Android device, go to the Settings then to Data Usage and select the particular app in question and tick the box which tells you to restrict the background data.
  • Turn off Push or Limit its Use: 
    Push is actually quite useful as it downloads social media and email updates without being prompted but at a price to your data prepaid package. You can request updates twice a day rather than every 5 minutes and the data saving could be enormous.
  • Preload Where You Can: 
    All phones have a Wi-Fi facility and most towns and some restaurants do have some free Wi-Fi facilities. Go to the library and you may be surprised to find that in a nice quiet space you can download to your heart’s content at no cost to you or your data plan. You can download music and videos and save them to your device. You just have to hope your teen is one of those types that wouldn’t be seen dead in a library.
  • Set an Alert When You Have Reached Your Quota: 
    On an iOS device, download “My Data Manager” which will keep an eye on data usage and send out an alert when you have used up your quota. With an Android use the data manager found in Settings – Data Usage. Your data usage cycle can be set and your mobile data limit too. You can also check to see what is gobbling up that data and the device will disconnect so you don’t finish off any remaining cash loaded onto your online account at uneconomical rates.
  • Compressing Data: 
    Onavo Extend is a compression app available for both Android and iOS. This app acts like VPN which sends data to Onavo’s server for compression before you receive it. There are other similar apps like opera and Chrome for iOs and Android.
  • Use the Slowest Data Connection: 
    4G is great if you are on-the-go non-stop but its fast speeds means more data flowing in a shorter period of time. Try just connecting to 3G and you will be quite surprised how much data you will save.
  • Switch off Auto Updater: 
    Both Android and iOS allows you to update apps automatically but not such a good idea if your child doesn’t know how to switch it off. You will have to show him or her how to disable this function to save wasted data.
  • Switch Offf the Phone: 
    This won’t be a popular option with your teen as all social media messages, texts and voicemails will have to join the queue until the phone is switched on again.


Your child needs a phone and needs data too; so it’s just the question of you teaching some simple techniques to economise on data and your child will be on to a winner.


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.