So you took the plunge and added a cell phone to your family. Now what? Most likely, the newest addition to the plan involved your child. Whether it’s a teen, a tween or even an adult, if you’re paying the bill, you can give your 2¢. We gave our tween a cell phone last year and learned quickly where the biggest pitfalls can be. We have some ideas on what steps you should take next. Here are five things to do after giving your child a cell phone.
1) Protect the phone
Phones aren’t cheap and if you have to replace it, you won’t be able to get the “new phone” discount. The best thing you can do is invest in a quality phone case. We’ve tried out a number of name brand cases, vanity cases and charger cases but by far my favorite brand is Speck. They offer quality products in a variety of styles. I swear by my Speck CandyShell Card Case. Not only does it protect my phone but it also carries a few cards such as driver’s license and credit card. When I travel, the room key fits in it nicely and I don’t have to carry a purse. Scott likes the fact that his phone doesn’t die thanks to his Jackery case so that’s another option with a different benefit. No matter what kind of case fits for you (or your child), find something that protects your phone.
2) Establish Rules
There need to be cell phone rules and they should be presented and agreed upon from the very beginning. If you feel your child is responsible enough to own a phone then you should be willing to have an educated and meaningful conversation regarding expectations. As a U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade member, I’ve discussed the parent/child agreement they provide and love that it you don’t have to be a U.S. Cellular customer to use it. It’s available to download for free so use it as is or as a starting point to create your own rules. Ultimately, the person paying the bill has the final say.
3) Teach Mobile Etiquette
Ask anybody that has a cell phone what their thoughts are on mobile manners and I guarantee they’ll have some opinions. When I asked on social media for feedback on cell phone etiquette, I received a lot of responses that were quite easy to agree with. No phones at the dinner table. NO texting while driving. When you’re in a conversation, BE in the conversation. Think about what bothers you about how others act and utilize their phones in inappropriate ways and places. Convey those concerns to your child so they develop good mobile etiquette right from the beginning. You may even consider adding them to the parent/child agreement mentioned above.
4) Disable In-App Purchases
A lot of cell phones these days fall into the category of smart phones and offer a multitude of features and the apps. Adults and kids alike can fall prey to the latest game app that offers upgrades and rewards to users. Each individual in-app purchase may only be 99¢ but those quickly add up. I’ve heard stories recently of parents having to contact Apple to reverse the charges when their child rang up five hundred to over a thousand dollars in upgrades. Don’t let that be you. Just disable the in-app purchases so nothing is accidentally purchased. On an iPhone, go to General then Restrictions then slide the bar next to In-App Purchases.
5) Monitor Data Usage
When you get a phone, it’s easy to lose track of how much time you’re spending online and how much data you are using. Be sure to utilize WiFi networks when available but take it a step further and simply monitor how much data you’re using. If you go over what your plan allows, you’ll be ponying up a pretty penny. There are a number of data monitoring apps available but none that are as robust as My Data Manager. Most plans simply monitor how much data is used during a given time frame on your particular phone. My Data Manger allows the user to track by interface – WiFi, roaming and home.
The biggest advantage is that it offers the ability to track on a shared plan. When you are new to using a cell phone, it takes a bit of learning to figure out that streaming video isn’t a smart idea unless you’re on WiFi. Some games utilize a lot of data as well. The best thing to do is be proactive; install My Data Manager and set up alarms so you know when you are close to your data limits.
Whether the phone is for a child or an adult, being responsible and taking care of it is important. From the physical appearance to how much is used and where, it all is important.