There’s little doubt your child or teen hasn’t begged you for a smartphone of their own. But before you run out and purchase new devices for everyone in your household, ask yourself whether it’s really a necessity. While being able to always stay connected with your loved ones is no doubt a huge benefit, the costs and responsibilities associated with owning these devices may outweigh any convenience. In fact, the average age at which children and teens score their first smartphone is rapidly decreasing. Today, more than 30 percent of children ages 8 to 10 have smartphones, and nearly 70 percent of all tweens ages 11 to 14 own one as well.
But just because your child’s peers own smartphones doesn’t necessarily mean these devices are suited for your young adult. After all, adding multiple lines and purchasing several new smartphones can be a major expense, especially for large families. Check out this guide to help you decide how many smartphones your family truly needs.
Deciding When Your Child Should Get One
Children mature at different ages, and only you can determine whether your son or daughter is ready for the responsibility of having their own smartphone. Studies indicate that as many as half of all smartphone users ages 18 and younger are addicted to their devices, leading to distraction at school, at the dinner table and elsewhere.
Once you’ve decided whether your child is mature enough, consider whether they need a device in the first place. In particular, think about whether your child’s daily schedule tends to change and whether you find yourself needing to reach them during the day. If the answer is “no,” then perhaps it can wait.
Of course, these conversations tend to be fluid, and as your child or teen gets older, you’ll no doubt want to contact them, especially if they participate in after-school activities. In these cases, opting for a smartphone may be a wise purchase.
Adding another device or two can add up fast. Thus, if you’re a parent to more than one teen, consider whether they may be able to share a smartphone. While this will require some cooperation — it may not work for every family — a shared device can be a great way to save money, while still having a way to stay connected with your loved ones.
If one of your children is taking part in after-school activities or going to a friend’s house, then it makes sense to have them take the phone. Likewise, if your other child plans to stay late at school or has other things going on, consider giving it to them for the day.
Of course, coordination can get a little trickier when both kids get older and are involved in after-school activities, so it’s best to keep the conversation going about whether to invest in multiple smartphones for your busy household.
Choosing the Right Plan
Now, if you decide your child or teen is ready for a smartphone, your next big decision will be deciding which service provider is right for your family. Many carriers advertise affordable family plans with multiple lines. But beware of the hype and instead look at those that offer unlimited data plans and no overage fees. Sprint, MetroPCS and Verizon all offer unlimited data plans and different options for talk and text, including a few unlimited options as well.
For example, T-Mobile’s family plan includes unlimited data and no overage fees. But wait, there’s more. If your child enjoys watching the latest films and TV shows, you can add unlimited streaming to your plan. Have a music enthusiast in your home? Then think about adding on unlimited music streaming. There are even options for free international service for families who love to travel.
When it comes to selecting the right device, T-Mobile offers the latest smartphones at affordable prices. No matter your credit history, the popular carrier offers plans that will allow to walk out of the store with your preferred smartphone of choice.
Meeting Your Family’s Smartphone Needs
Purchasing smartphones for your family isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Like anything in life, it’s important to consider your family’s unique needs and personalities. From there, you should be able to easily decide whether your loved ones are ready for a smartphone of their own and which plans and devices are best suited for your household.