Should you get a contract for your kid's mobile phone, or is it better to stick to a pay as you go plan? See the two options compared in terms of price, flexibility, and parental control.
You’ve decided to arrange a mobile plan for your child - that’s great! They must be very excited. And you are probably full of questions. Should you consider a mobile contract or go for a prepaid plan? It can be difficult to pick, but we’ll help you get started.
As a first step, it’s a good idea to define your priorities. Are you looking for the cheapest solution, the most flexible solution, or the one with the most parental control?
Let’s look at how mobile contracts and PAYG plans for children compare on each of these criteria.
When it comes to price, there are a couple of things to consider. On the one hand, the mobile plan’s fixed monthly costs. On the other hand, the ease of overspending.
Overall, mobile contracts tend to be cheaper per month than a PAYG plan. Especially when it comes to mobile data costs. So if you expect your child to be using a lot of data, you’d get better value for your money from a mobile contract.
This being said, it’s quite easy to incur extra costs on most mobile contracts, especially for a child. For example, as soon as your data allowance for the month is used up, some mobile operators let you keep using data at a higher price. And you’ll only find out the cost at the end of the month.
With PAYG plans, you don’t have to worry about overspending. If your child uses up data or call credit faster than expected, they’ll just run out of it sooner. That’ll force them to lay off the phone for a while. It won’t make them happy, but it’ll be educational. And there’ll be no surprise costs for you to pick up.
Ease of overspending is an important factor to consider when picking a mobile plan. Especially for younger children or children who struggle with responsibility. In those cases, it might be a good idea to start off with a PAYG plan. Once your child has proven themselves responsible, they can ‘graduate’ to a mobile contract.
With regards to flexibility, pay-as-you-go plans for children tend to be a better solution than most mobile contracts.
On the one hand, PAYG plans don’t require a credit check or even a bank account to get. You can top them up easily online, and you’re good to go. That saves you a lot of hassle.
On the other hand, PAYG means you can top up different amounts of call credit or data depending on the month. This gives you important flexibility to change your child’s allowance.
The flexibility offered by mobile contracts depends on the operator and duration of the contract. If you’ve signed a 12-month SIM plan, you’re stuck with the allowance and tariff you chose at the start.
If you, however, pick a 30-day SIM plan for your child, you can adjust their call credit and data allowance each month as needed.
Both a mobile contract and a PAYG plan for your child can offer reasonable parental control. Which one you need depends on the level of parental control you’re looking for.
You can do that easily on either a mobile plan or a PAYG plan. Just use your mobile operator’s usage app to keep track of the data or minutes your child has left. On a PAYG plan, you can check your remaining balance at any time by sending a text to the operator’s service number.
Not enough? Keeping track is great, but setting a cap to data or mobile usage is safer. With a Three family plan, you can do that for your child.
If you want to know exactly who your child is calling or texting, you might want to look into Parent Shield’s mobile contracts. Their plans give you full visibility of your child’s activity on their phone, if that’s what you’re looking for.
If this is what’s important to you, your child’s device has a bigger role to play than their mobile plan. If they have a flip phone, it’ll probably limit their screen time by taking all its excitement away. If they have a smartphone, you can do a lot from the phone’s settings - e.g. find out more about parental control on an iPhone.
Too much effort? Some PAYG plans, such as Three prepaid automatically have adult content filters applied, so you don’t have to do anything extra on your child’s phone.
Ready to pick a mobile plan for your child? Remember that if you pick a pay-as-you-go plan, you can top up call credit or mobile data anytime for your child.