Cell Phones

Buying a Cell Phone for the Kids

It might be their first phone or maybe a replacement but buying a new cell phone for your kids comes with some unique challenges.

A New Phone on the Family Plan

The time has arrived – your teens or perhaps even tweens want a phone. It will need to be a shiny, new smartphone with all the bells and whistles like their friends!

Getting a new phone is a huge milestone for your kids but it will likely add to your list of worries. What should you be thinking about before making the big purchase?

Paying for additional phones, service plans and data for your kids is expensive. It’s essential to plan and understand what you are signing up for from both a price and quality perspective. What should you do if your kids lose their phone? How can you avoid unexpected charges from piling up from all those apps and downloads? Perhaps most importantly, what can you do to protect your kids?

Here are our Top 5 Tips to consider when buying your kids a phone.

1. Know your Price

Shop around to get the best Family Plan deal. Paying for multiple phones for you and your kids can be a significant monthly cost and your final bill will usually be considerably higher than the advertised price. It’s worth having an idea of how everything will add up on your bill. Even T-Mobile, who try to be fairly upfront on pricing by including taxes and fees on many of their plans, have a rather long section in their contract detailing How your Bill is Calculated.

2. Choose the Right Phone

Maybe recycling one of your old phones and just buying a service plan is the right option, especially if the phone is still in good working order. If you are buying a new phone, there are many options and many resources to tap into but consider choosing the phone with your child so they are part of the decision. But what happens if they end up hating the phone you buy anyway? The good news is, you will typically have 14-days to return the phone and cancel the service. A Buyer’s Right to Cancel should get you a full refund minus any applicable fees. So hold on to the box, all of the instructions and pieces in case you need to return.

3. Prepare for Loss or Damage

Kids lose stuff…and they’re not the only ones. In total, almost 70 million phones are lost every year. Around 50 million phone screens are cracked each year. If your kids lose their phone somewhere, you will need to notify your service provider immediately as T-Mobile’s Lost or Stolen Device Policy describes, to avoid further complications. Unfortunately, the real kicker is Verizon’s Risk of Loss Policy which gives you a pretty good idea of the standard practice — you will be responsible for paying off the full balance of the phone immediately if you bought it on a payment plan. That could be a serious chunk of change so it’s worth considering insurance when you purchase a new phone depending on your circumstances.

4. Establish Boundaries

You bought the phone and are paying for the family plan. A conversation and even a family contract on the appropriate use of the phone – texts, calls, data purchases - is important to avoid bill shock later on. Parental controls, a phone pin code and a family iCloud or Google account can also help protect your kids from accessing inappropriate content or running up large bills. The reality, though, is your kids might still “break the rules” by spending on those Fortnite add-ons. If all else fails, most service providers will have Tools to Block and Restrict Third-Party Services completely.

5. Keep Privacy and Security in Mind

Our phones know everything about us from bank account details to our most treasured memories. The trouble is, sometimes the phone isn’t great at keeping secrets making everything about us, and our kids, potentially available to the outside world. You might think that your service provider has a solid set of safeguards in place to protect your family. A quick check of the contract might prove otherwise:

4.3 Who Is Responsible for Security? AT&T DOES NOT GUARANTEE SECURITY.

Excerpt from AT&T’s Wireless Customer Agreement

The other major carriers have similar language to protect themselves rather than you. So in the end, it will come down to you to not save that credit card number when using your kids’ phones and consider doing an occasional check and scrub for sensitive information that is best kept contained.

At SimpleTerms, we are concerned consumers and parents just like you. We also know that no one has the time or the patience to fully read and understand all the small print in a cell phone contract. Through a set of easy, quick to read summaries, we want to help everyone understand and take action on the key aspects of a contract that matter most.

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