About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have phones, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study. When purchasing a child’s first cell phone, there are four factors parents should consider. Here’s what they need to know:
Look at big-picture costs. While some parents opt for discounted phones to save up-front costs, they are usually paired with pricier plans that can add up over time. Paying a little more up-front for a phone usually equals big savings in the long-run: Lower-rate plans save close to $2,000 over a two-year period.
Find the right plan. First-time cell users are likely to text frequently (the Pew study also shows that one in three teens sends 3,000 texts a month). By opting for a pay-in-advance plan, parents know what costs to expect and won’t be surprised by overage charges at the end of the month. MetroPCS offers pre-paid plans with unlimited talk, text and web plan starting at $40 per month — taxes and regulatory fees included. Added bonus: Pay-in-advance phones can be taken away as punishment when necessary without worry of being bound to a monthly contract and paying for a service that isn’t being used.
Determine which features matter most. It’s important for parents to talk to their child about which features or services they’ll use the most. For instance, parents could opt for a phone with a QWERTY keyboard for text-happy users (like the Samsung Freeform III) or select a device with strong audio and visual capabilities (such as with the LG Connect 4G) for those who love videos and entertainment.
Research parental controls. Once settled on a carrier and phone, parents can consider apps, services and programs that give insight into what their kids are doing on the phone. Whether regularly checking browser history or automatically looking through text recipients, there are a number of tools available to help parents monitor what kids are doing. Apps can also help keep track of where children are, at all times.
Tips from Fallon Carr with MetroPCS