You and your child’s first phone
Each parent has their own reason and own age for when it is appropriate to give their child their first mobile phone. And while even experts might differ on when or why children should get their first phone, the final decision is ultimately yours to make. After all, you’re the one carrying the cost of the phone and the phone plan.
If you’re still undecided, we’ve put together a brief guide of questions you need to ask yourself, along with types of phones and plans suitable for your child, regardless of their age when they get their first phone.
Is your child ready for their first mobile phone?
If you asked your child if they’re ready for their first mobile phone you’re almost guaranteed of getting an affirmative reply. So, it is most certainly not the correct approach to take. Instead, you need to ask yourself a few questions to help you decide whether they are responsible and mature enough:
- How responsible is your child? Do they look after their belongings and the belongings of others?
- Does your child understand and follow rules?
- Do they demonstrate respect for other people, both family and friends?
- Do they understand the concept of actions and consequences?
- Do they easily talk to you about problems they encounter or when they are distressed by something?
Naturally, you also need to honestly answer the question, why now? Is it so they can more easily communicate with you during the day if they become ill or have after school activities cancelled unexpectedly? Or is it simply because all their friends have mobile phones and they feel left out? Equally important is for you to discuss and implement some rules, such as:
- Limiting screen time by not allowing phones to be used after a certain time at night, and even before a certain time in the morning.
- Not allowing mobile phones to be used at mealtimes. Lead by example here by making sure this applies to you and any other adults at the table.
- Knowing not to give out any personal information to anyone, especially their phone number and address.
- Not being allowed to purchase anything online, unless they have been given permission.
- Not bullying anyone online, and also telling you immediately if they are being bullied or encounter anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Types of mobile phones to consider
While smartphones are seemingly everywhere, they are by no means your only option for your child’s first mobile phone. For younger children, a regular mobile phone is more appropriate; the kind that only allows calls and text messages, no internet access and apps, and only a basic camera (if this feature is included at all.) This gives them more opportunity to demonstrate responsibility, both with the phone itself, but also how they use it. Once they are older you can start considering passing your old smartphone onto them, once they understand how to safely use the internet and mobile apps, and how to manage their data allowance. Once your child migrates to using a smartphone you can use different apps to track your child and even monitor their online activity, but maintaining a healthy level of trust between you and your child means discussing the use of these apps beforehand.
Plans available for your child's first phone
The plan you select for your child and their first mobile phone will depend on the type of phone you give them. If they have a regular mobile phone, not a smartphone, there is no need for a plan that includes any data, only calls and texting. But even if you are giving them their first smartphone you might want to start off with a basic plan that supports data being added as needed. This gives you greater control over the spend, and you can later switch to a better plan once your child has demonstrated proper control of online activity and data usage. And unless your current mobile plan has a family component to it, you might want to go with a SIM only plan, which would allow you to use your own phone, either one of your older smartphones or a new basic mobile phone.
Dodo has four easy-to-understand SIM-only plans, that give you greater control over your monthly spend, with coverage provided by the Optus 3G & 4G Plus Network.
Prepaid plans might also be better in the beginning because it doesn't allow for any excess call or data usage, so there are no unexpected costs. While the call value might not be as generous as that of a post-paid plan, and you need to supply your own phone, it is a good way to start off. Plus, extra data and call packs can usually be added on afterwards.