Selecting the right plan for your child’s first cell phone is a challenge that many parents find themselves facing. We are the first generation of parents raising up kids with technology. The weight and magnitude of that responsibility can feel a bit overwhelming at times because there is no guidebook to refer to. We are all learning as we go.
We personally don’t have a landline phone because we have exclusively used our cell phones for years. The tricky part about that decision is when you find yourself in a situation where your child might not have access to a phone in an emergency. We waited until my older son was in middle school for his first cell phone and now we have once again found ourselves questioning the right time for our younger son who is now in middle school. My older son has more after school commitments and we don’t feel comfortable having my younger son at home without a phone if he needs it. We stalled as long as we could but we finally decided that it’s time.
So where do you start?
There are several questions that you need to ask when determining the right plan for your child and your family.
1. How will you be using the phone?
Many plans today include unlimited voice and text. If you choose a plan without unlimited options you could pay expensive overage charges.
Plans with lower minutes cost less but if you go over you will be paying WAY more for additional minutes.
Unlimited talk and text plans are also very affordable now. Companies like Access Wireless offer plans starting as low as $20 and you never need to worry about running out.
2. How much data will you need?
Do you plan on allowing your child to use much data? Most people don’t need more than 10gb.
Will your child be able to connect to Wi-Fi at home, school, etc.? The more you can use wifi they less you need to purchase.
Applications like Facetime, Hangouts, Messenger, and What’s App are using your data NOT your talk and text. You’ll want to account for that in your decision making.
What is the data overage policy?
You want to find a provider that won’t penalize you for overage, or make you wait until your current month ends to add more in months with heavy usage. Access Wireless for example, offer plans with no data if you plan to only use Wi-Fi to access data, all the way up to 10gb per month.
3. Does your plan offer flexibility?
Will you be able to adjust your plan when you need to or will you be stuck in a contract?
It’s good to have flexibility as your needs and technology changes which affect your usage needs over time.
It’s good to have plans that allow for you to try out different levels of usage and allow you to adjust your plan as you determine what’s right for your needs.
Access Wireless aims to provide options on how people pay for data. For example, they have plans for people who maximize wi-fi or don’t need data. The average wireless customer uses around 2-5 GB per month which is why Access included 3GB in a lower priced plan. Extra data can be added as needed for $10 per 1GB on any of their plans as long as you are an active customer. This helps avoid paying for data amounts you may be unlikely to use.
4. What options are you looking for in your device?
In my opinion, selecting the price points and features for your child’s first device is kind of similar to thinking back to your first car. My first car was not brand new, in fact, it was an older vehicle, over 10+ years old at the time, which made it so that I appreciated EVERY upgrade after that.
I feel the same way about cell phones. I don’t want my kids to have a cell phone that’s better than mine… or even almost as good for their first phone because there is something to be said for earning those upgrades. This is the perfect opportunity for your child to learn responsibility and how to care for something that is important. Because we are all human and make mistakes, I HIGHLY recommend getting a durable phone case so that you set your child up to succeed.
Things to Consider
Storage: How many GB of storage do you need?
Most smartphones will have at least 8GB of storage and can increase to 16-32-64 or even 128 GB. If you store a lot of pictures and videos on your phone – or if you load a lot of apps – you will want to consider more storage.
Operating System– If you have Apple Products at home like an iMac or AppleTV, you may want to consider an Apple phone.
If you use Google Calendar or Google Drive, you may want to consider an Android.
Ask if the phone you select accepts the latest version of Android because most of the features for apps and widgets are actually android and not phone related. They’ll stay new and refresh when updates are made.
When it comes to camera features on a phone, you will get more features the higher the price point. For someone who likes to take videos or use social media, you may want to check out devices that have 8-10 megapixels.
You don’t have to spend big bucks for a device that fits your needs. You can opt for a new device or a refurbished one that is still in excellent condition. Make sure that you find a vendor that offers a warranty and thoroughly inspect the phone when you receive it.
Access Wireless offers a number of devices, new and refurbished. They also offer a warranty on every purchase and the ability to extend that warranty, even on used devices.
Screen size Cell phones come in a variety of sizes. One test you might want to think about is how well the device fits in your child’s pocket or hand. You want them to feel comfortable and you don’t want a size that is so large that it could end up constantly falling on the ground.
Most phones will have at least a 4” screen which will do the job for most viewing. You want to look at 4.5 or 5” if they will be using it to watch videos or read a lot of websites. Even though it is a small size difference, it can make a difference in the viewing experience.
I hope that these tips help you narrow down the options that work best for your family. It’s so much easier to make a decision when you can narrow down your needs upfront. You can find out more about cell phone plans and phone options from the Access Wireless website.
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Access Wireless. All opinions are my own.
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