How to find the best mobile deals for a child

At some point, nowadays often much sooner than we might like or expect, our children start asking if they can have their own mobile phone. Some will come right out and ask, while others might make subtle hints, mentioning friends who have phones, and gentle enquiries as to when they might be allowed. As parent’s, it a tough balance, and also a much trickier decision than it used to be.

We don’t want our children to be left out, or teased at school. But, nor do we want them to be walking around with very expensive handsets, unsafe and unsure. You may also have worries about how consumed by their phone they might become (which, if we’re honest is something that many adults have personal experience of) and the pressures that come with social media, and always being in touch.

When we were young, phones might not have been popular until we were old enough to have one anyway, and they did very little. Our choices were also very limited. There were a few decent handsets on the market, and pay as you go plans were the ideal option for teenagers.

Nowadays, there are countless handsets and even more deals. Pay as you go isn’t as popular as it once was, as data has become so much more important than minutes and texts, and making these choices is tough. If you are currently wondering whether your child is ready for a phone, which one, and which deal would be best, here’s some guidance to help you to make the decision.

The Benefits of Buying Your Child a Mobile Phone

As a parent, you’ve probably been guilty of thinking the worst. Worrying about how distracted your child might be by a phone or the dangers that they could face online. But there are plenty of benefits too. These include:

  • Being able to call you if they need help
  • Access to GPS when they are out alone
  • Better communication with friends
  • Being able to keep in touch with family, without your help
  • Building independent relationships
  • Being able to call a taxi if they are stuck
  • Access to emergency services
  • Communication with school (emails, Facebook groups, online lessons etc)

How Do You Know When Your Child is Ready for a Mobile Phone?

Even when you know the benefits, this is perhaps the big question. When is the right time for your child to have a phone? There’s no right or wrong answer. Some parents will happily let their 6-7-year-old have a phone to text friends and play games on in the house, and others don’t see the need until their children are teenagers and starting to lead a more independent life.

Your child probably doesn’t need a phone until they start to spend more time out of the house alone. At home, they can communicate with friends in other ways, like via a games console and tablet, and have Internet access. Many parents decide to buy their children a phone when they first start walking to and from school alone, to enjoy the safety benefits. Ask yourself if you trust them with a phone if they are mature enough to understand the risks and responsible enough to take care of it.

Finding the Right Handset

Before you can choose the right deal, you should give some thought to a handset. Some plans will include a handset, others will be SIM only deals and you’ll need to buy a handset separately, so knowing what you want from their mobile phone gives you a better way to explore the best plans and compare SIM only deals if you need to.

Consider Their Needs

What do they need their phone to do? Of course, not every child is bothered about all of the added extras, and sometimes all the phone needs to be able to do is call someone in an emergency. In which case you might choose to avoid smartphones altogether and opt for a very basic handset.

Most older children, however, will want to play games, access social media and take photographs. If they have specific interests or hobbies, such as photography, the camera and editing software might be a more important consideration, and you’ll want to make sure it’s got good connectivity to home computers and printers.

Think About What You Want from Your Child’s Phone

Do you want to be able to set screen time limits, to block certain apps, and to monitor their usage? If so, make sure any handset that you choose offers this option.

Start with a Hand Me Down

A fantastic option that many parents choose for their children’s first smartphone is a hand me down. If you need a new phone, letting them have your old one with one of the best SIM only deals can be a great start.

Think About Your Home Setup

If everyone in the house has an iPhone, you use iPads and have a Mac computer, you might want to stick to the theme and get them an iPhone SE, or offer up your old handset when you upgrade. This will offer better connectivity at home, and allow them an easy way to sync between devices.

Choosing the Right Mobile Plan

When you’ve got a handset in mind, it’s time to choose the right mobile plan. Most parents find that using a SIM only deal and either buying a handset outright or using a hand me down, is cheaper, more flexible, and safer than buying a plan with an expensive phone included.

When searching for SIM only deals you can’t get better plans for children than Lebara. Lebara offers 30-day rolling plans, so you can cancel at any time. All plans are capped and clear, so there are no unexpected costs to worry about, and your child can’t accidentally run up massive bills. Here’s a look at some things to think about when selecting a plan.

Consider Their Needs

Chances are that data is a big priority for your child. But, they might not need as much as they think they do. If they spend a lot of time at home, they’ll be able to link up to your WIFI. They will also be able to use WIFI at their friends’ houses, many public places and sometimes even at school.

Think About Age and Maturity

Older children might be using their own pocket money, or even earning money to pay for their phone. In this case, you might be happy to give them more flexibility, teaching them to be responsible with their money and their time.

Prevent Unexpected Charges

30-day plans from Lebara cap out of plan usage at zero, so there will never be unexpected costs. This can be perfect for younger children, and especially those with their first phone, giving you one less thing to worry about, and helping them to become more independent and responsible while offering a sensible safety net.

The Benefits of 30-Day Plans

30-day plans mean that you aren’t tied to a long contract. You can make changes whenever you want, whether to the plan or handset, without incurring costs.

There’s no doubt that at some point your child will have their own phone, whether it’s right now or in the future. Getting the right handset, and perhaps more importantly, the right deal will mean that you can monitor their spending and activity, avoid shocking unexpected charges, and give them more responsibility and independence. There are certainly benefits to getting your child a phone, and as long as you do it right, it can be a good thing.

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