Whether like many parents you often give your child your phone to play games on when they are bored or your child is getting to an age where they want their first phone handset, one of the main concerns for parents is the risk of their kids running up a massive bill.
Many kids don’t fully understand how much smartphones cost, either upfront or monthly, which is why your ten-year-old might think that it’s perfectly reasonable for them to get the latest iPhone. However, the good news is that as a parent, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent your child from running up a huge phone bill that you’ll be left paying. Before handing your phone to your child or getting your child their own smartphone, consider the following tips for protecting your money.
SIM Only Deals:
If the time has come to get your child their first smartphone, it’s not just online safety that many parents are worried about. The idea of your child going way over her allowance leaving you to pay the massive difference might fill you with dread.
The good news is that with a SIM Only deal, there’s no way that can happen. Once the allowance is used up, it’s done until the plan rolls over – and that gives you more control. If there’s only a couple of days left in the month you might be happy to top your kid’s phone up, but maybe not if he’s eaten through 20GB of data in two days flat. Either way, it gives you options and helps you avoid nasty surprises. Check out the Lebara SIM Only plans to find out more about what’s available for your child.
These plans do not require a credit check and you’re never tied in, giving you complete freedom to move up or down to different plans or even leave. Click here for options from Lebara to explore, starting at just £5.
There are many parental control apps are available, designed for parents who want to keep an eye on their child’s phone use and make sure that they are staying safe. You can get parental control apps that allow you to control what your child sees on their phone online, with searches for things like pornography or violence off-limits.
In addition, some apps allow you to control who your child is allowed to communicate with using their phone, with a list of approved numbers and contacts that you know and trust like their friends and family members, to prevent strangers from getting in touch with them.
You can also limit the apps that they download so you don’t need to worry about them falling victim to the dangers of apps like TikTok or Snapchat at a young age. Other apps allow you to track your child’s phone using GPS, so you’ve always got peace of mind regarding where they are. Many also offer the feature to switch off the service if your child has spent enough, so you can avoid getting a massive bill.
If your child’s phone plan is one that allows them to go over the monthly allowance, setting a spending cap on their account is the most sensible option when it comes to avoiding huge bills. With a spending cap, you can determine how much over your child can go if they come to the end of their allowance and start paying the standard rate for minutes, texts, and data. You can set this to zero, so there is no out-of-allowance spending allowed at all or give your child some leeway depending on what you are prepared to pay.
Don’t Link Your Debit Card:
There have been plenty of horror stories of parents who have given their child their phone to play with, only to return with thousands of pounds of debt because their kid has ordered something ludicrous or happily racked up a huge bill buying in-app purchases for their game.
If you are giving your child your phone to play with and your debit card is linked, make sure that it’s password protected and there’s no way to make any in-app payments or purchases without it. It may also be worth hiding shopping apps in a password-protected folder.
When it’s your child’s own phone, this might be a good time to give them their own debit card so that they can manage their own purchases with their own money, which is a good way to teach them about the value of money and financial responsibility at the same time. There are plenty of great debit card options available for kids that you can easily send money to for their spends.
Before getting your child their own smartphone, most parents will want to be sure that their child is ready for the responsibility. And part of this is making sure that they understand what can cost them money when using the smartphone and how to use it in the best way for cutting costs. For example, make sure that they know to always connect to the Wi-Fi network when using the phone at home or at a friend’s house rather than using 4G since using Wi-Fi will not cost any extra. Make sure that they are aware of in-app purchases and why it’s a bad idea to spend real money on game tokens. Set firm ground rules about making sure that they ask first before they make any purchases online using their phone.
Finally, while it won’t always rack up your phone bill, security breaches can be very costly. Make sure that your child knows about the importance of staying secure when using their phone such as updating the operating system as soon as there is an update available and only downloading apps that they trust from the official app store for their phone.
Kids can often rack up huge phone bills without realising, whether you’ve given them your phone to play on or got them a smartphone of their own. Keep these tips in mind for more financial peace of mind as a parent.
How to Ensure Your Kids Don’t Run Up a Massive Phone Bill is a feature post