What is a Kid’s phone plan?
Some phone companies offer plans targeted specifically at families, specifically designed to meet the needs of that large group.
The specific meaning of ‘Family Plan’ changes depending on which phone company you choose.
- Kids safe software for phones: Some phone companies have specific phone plans which include free software. This software can be installed on your kid’s phone. That software can give you the ability to do things like block pornography from being seen on the phone. The same software can help set up rules – for example, turning the phone off at 9 PM each night to avoid arguments. OVO Mobile and Yomojo offer this sort of software. Sometimes this sort of software is charged for so make sure you check before you commit.
- Shared data on a family account: Other phone companies provide shared data facilities where users on the same account – a family, for example – can share data between them. Optus offer plans like this.
- ‘Gifting’ data: Finally, some phone companies make it easy to ‘gift’ data to someone else.
We explain all of these options, and provide more detail on exactly what they mean, in the article, below, on this page.
Why are Belong Mobile shown on this page? (What is ‘Data Gifting’)
Belong Mobile have an extremely fair way of dealing with the mobile data they have in their phone plans. As well as allowing you to use your own allowance to browse the internet and download things on your phone, they allow you to ‘gift’ data to any other customer on the Belong network.
To send / gift data to someone, you just need to enter their phone number in to the app and hit ‘send’
The practical realities of life are that teenagers can run out of data. I’ve known families where this was common – and even times when children needed recharging more than twice per month. Data gifting is one of the things children need when they start using a phone. It provides a simple way to top up their data allowance. You just send it to them from your phone.
Why do Yomojo offer a 15% family discount?
Yomojo want to attract a specific segment of the population – families – and focus on giving them what they want.
Yomojo are one of the only phone companies to offer this sort of family plan and the only to offer a multi-SIM discount. Theirs is 5% off the first and second SIM at the time of this writing. This goes up to 15% off the sixth SIM. You can find out more on their family page.
Why do so many people use Prepaid phone plans for kids?
Prepaid services are great at reducing the risks associated with a phone bill. Everyone remembers a horror story they heard on the news where a child ran up a huge phone bill for their parents using data overseas or calling the UK from Australia.
When managed correctly, prepaid plans can avoid any possible chance of that happening.
To work, your prepaid service will have to be activated when you start and then recharged over time. To recharge your service, you need a credit on your account. So long as you only credit your account by the amount you’re going to recharge, you can never be charged more than what you’ve paid.
In practical terms, that’s as simple as adding $30 to your service before you recharge your Optus $30 plan.
What else should I be thinking of when I give my child a SIM?
One thing that every phone user, including kids, should do is install the free company self-service app.
Research shows that users of this sort of app are happier than people who are at the same phone company but don’t use the app.
Everything you need to know to manage your service is available in the app and you’ll never have to call support again. (Probably.)
What is Telstra’s Mobile Protect?
Telstra’s Mobile Protect is an app, provided free of charge by Telstra, which allows you to implement sensible policies on your child’s phone. You can access the service through Telstra’s Self Service app : 24×7.
You can find out more about Telstra Mobile Protect in the article on this page or on Telstra’s website.
- Save you money - up to 15% on 2nd and subsequent SIMs
- Centralize control over the browsing your kids can do
- Solve common family problems - e.g. running out of data
- Cut costs with a family discount
- Make your child contactable - and safe
- Ensure your child is mature enough for a phone
- Kid plan features vary by provider - see article
Good communication is a necessary part of parenting. Having a phone can help kids and parents feel more connected. Used correctly, a phone plan and phone can give both sides more confidence in navigating the day-to-day logistics of family life.
Parents feel that their kids are safer with a mobile phone when they are not in sight. This means they can call their kids to find out where they are and what they are doing. If something goes wrong, or if they need to pick them up from school or a sports or social event, the mobile phone comes in really handy.
Of course, kids have their own reasons for wanting a mobile. It’s partly peer pressure – what other kids have, they also want. Then they can communicate with their friends and surf the internet. Schools often encourage kids to use their own smartphones or other Internet-ready devices for study assignments because it’s a cheap way of learning and research, especially when the school is short of laptops or computers.
The problem comes when kids are exposed through these devices to websites that parents don’t want them to visit. On this page, we look at the options you have to manage that internet access with family plans.
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In almost all circumstances, a prepaid plan is the best option for young people. With a prepaid plan, once the data has run out for the set period (this is called an expiry term -usually around a month), there’s no more data available at the same rate until the next cycle begins. Kids are still learning how much things cost and can get carried away without realizing how much they’re spending. It’s better that they find out by running out of credit instead of you finding out when you receive a huge bill.
We have reviewed the top phone plan providers in Australia, specifically with reference to Kid’s plans, and found you the best of what’s available.
Remember, there are commonalities here between some of the plans but the specifics of what each phone company provides does vary. So make sure you’re clear on what you’re getting when you pick one of these plans. The details are below.
Telstra don’t have a family or data sharing plan but they have their own parental control service called Mobile Protect. It’s free and basically does what a lot of internet control software does for PCs or Macs at home or in the school or library, but this service is aimed squarely at mobile devices.
These are the main features of Telstra Mobile Protect.
- It’s free but:
It’s a free service but you must already have a mobile plan from Telstra
- It lets you manage their service:
You can apply internet filters, restrict calls and SMS messages. Set restrictions on time. Block unsavoury websites
- It helps you help them:
Check what sites have been accessed
The main drawback of the service is that it only works on internet access via the Telstra network. If your child is innocently surfing using a stray wifi or at a friend’s house (whose parents don’t have any internet controls) the service will not work. Telstra also states that the service does not work when roaming overseas, and does not specifically guarantee that categories that are supposed to be filtered out will actually be filtered. Call and SMS restrictions also don’t work if calls or texts are being sent using Facebook Messenger, Skype, or similar online communication methods.
Despite the provisos about the limitations of Mobile Protect, it’s easy to sign up to. You need to be registered with Telstra and have an account with them that you can access on the internet. All the mobile devices you want to add the service to must be listed on your account. You can easily add a pre-paid number if it’s not linked to your account already. You then choose to accept the service for each device you want protected.
The answer is yes and no. Of course, any plan can be used by any person, including a child. The reason we’ve included Belong Mobile here is that their phone plans have a couple of plan features that are extremely useful for parents managing kids plans.
- Data banking:
All the research shows that younger people make fewer (voice) phone calls than adults. They prefer to SMS / WhatsApp / use some other new things that no old person knows about, to communicate with their friends. In short, it’s all about the mobile data in a phone plan for kids – and managing the internet access that is provided with it. With Belong, any data your child is provided is kept forever. The scheme is called data banking and it’s a great way to manage the cost of your phone plan.,
- Data sharing :
Belong also offer the facility to ‘gift’ mobile data to other people who have a Belong plan. Anyone who uses a Belong service can receive your gift – but in the context of a family, this plus the data banking facility make it much easier to manage a family’s data needs.
- Note :
Unlike OVO and Telstra, Belong do not have an aspect of their service that helps to limit what children see with the mobile data we’re talking about.
It’s an undeniable fact that kids are getting their first mobile phone (or smartphone) at a younger and younger age every year. Research shows that Aussie kids are at an average age of 9 when they get their first mobile device, 3 years after the average U.K. child. It’s fairly obvious that the gap is going to shrink. In research conducted by Telstra, most of the parents who were debating whether to buy their children smartphones or not cited independence and safety as their greatest concerns. Over 60% of parental smartphone buyers were motivated by the need to ensure their children were safe.
In terms of gender, 20% of girls owned a smartphone by age 4 compared to boys who caught up at age 5. By the time children get to 10 years of age, the percentage of phone ownership doubles.
When children enter high school or travel independently to school, many parents feel the need to buy them smartphones. That said, 10% of parents interviewed admitted to giving in to their children’s demands for a smartphone. When children become independent and have to make their own way to school, the element of safety enters the decision matrix.
The use of the phone you provide them will, first of all, depend on your child’s age. Generally, primary school-aged 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 streaming data-guzzling YouTube videos. Just a small mention here as an example: A 90-minute YouTube video could gobble up a whopping 2GBs of data!!
Teenagers, on the other hand, could download numerous photos of their favorite 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 hone in on footy or cricket if given the chance – the boys at least.
Synthesizing information from the studies we’ve referenced above, some factors stand out. We recommend using these to guide parents at the decision-making point of buying a smartphone for their children.
- Old versus New Model:
Receiving a phone, for the first time, is an exciting time for a young person. Children may not care much if it is a newer or older model. Parents can consider this and get a budget phone for their children. A great place to start is a second-hand iPhone.
- Phone Plan:
Getting a prepaid phone plan is a much cheaper option than a postpaid plan. At this age, children love experimenting a lot but may not yet have fully come to grips with the technicalities of telco charging (perhaps you haven’t either). Prepaid plans, if managed correctly, can help you avoid bigger phone bills than you’re expecting. Simply by recharging your prepaid service with just enough to add the required credit means you can’t be charged more until you consciously decide to spend it. By the time the phone bill comes at the end of the month, it may not be a surprise that you have exceeded your postpaid plan limit.
- Phone Care:
To protect the phone against damages from falls and other impacts, invest in a sturdy casing and a screen protector. Consider insurance if you do get your child a brand new device.
- Smartphone Handling:
Smartphones can be addictive. Weight the pros and cons of the decision but the best guidance is usually that parents should ensure their children do not take their devices to the bedroom.
- Rules and Responsibilities:
While children in this age group cannot legally enter into binding contracts, parents should draw up, sign, and enforce an agreement outlining the rules and responsibilities to be followed. This provides a framework on how to engage children in smartphone usage.
To avoid problems – consider these aspects of how the phone is used:
- The phone is only available when going out.
- The phone is an old-style device with no apps and very limited internet.
- Phones don’t go into the bedroom.
- Children are responsible for buying their own credit.
- Only a limited amount of phone numbers are stored, like family and a few trusted friends.
- Open dialogue about safe and appropriate phone use, including who it’s ok to give your number to.
A child’s level of maturity and responsibility is much more important than their chronological age.
Mobile providers are beginning to wake up to the fact that kids are using their networks more and more and at a younger age than ever before, yet remain vulnerable to contact with sites that are unsafe. Because they carry their mobile device around with them, it makes it hard for parents to control what they are using them for. Yet, parents feel that in totality, possession of a mobile phone or smartphone makes their child safer because they can contact them any time they like.
Kid’s plans are important now and they’re going to become much more prevalent in future years, as phones are passed to younger and younger kids. Parents must continue playing an active role in their children’s lives and smartphones should not substitute face-to-face communications. With agreements signed up between parents and children, accountability on phone usage can be enforced.
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