Buying a mobile phone for a kid is always fraught with worry. Will they be safe online? Will they use their phones wisely? Will they be bullied? But fortunately, costs isn’t necessarily one of them.
That’s not to say that costs haven’t been a problem for parents in the past. Back in 2013, Money Saving Expert ran a story in which they reported how a child had managed to rack up a £3,200 phone bill by buying stuff in an in-game store. The child had no idea that the digital farm animals he purchased cost more than £70 each, and that that was a lot of money.
So what can parents do to keep child phone costs down and avoid horrifyingly high bills? Check out some of these strategies.
Stop Paying For Data You Don’t Need
With the rise of mobile internet, many providers have taken the opportunity to sell to parents on the idea that they need to build a safety net into their child’s data use by bulking up their monthly data allowance to avoid high extra-data charges. But when you think about it, this kind is billing is entirely arbitrary. Why should you pay extra just because the month hasn’t ended? Surely it would be better to use data you haven’t used in previous months?
The good news is that a new mobile network, which I am a customer of, is trialling a new approach where you can save up your data and use extra when you need it. Parents have more leeway and can relax, especially if their children bank more data as the months wear on. With deals like these, it becomes less likely that you’ll incur costly surcharges for additional data use beyond that stipulated in the contract.
Restrict In-App Purchases
Both Apple and Android phones provide options that allow you to prevent your kids from making in-app purchases, as happened with the six-year-old and farm game story above. If your child owns an Apple device, you need to go to settings, then general, and then restrictions. While there, choose the options box that makes it so that you have to enter a password every time you want to make a purchase. Make sure that you don’t use a password that your child already knows.
If your child has a Google Android device, then remember to activate your pin on your Google account. This ensures that any purchases, whether in-game or not, require your express permission.
Unlink Your Credit Cards From Music Sites
iTunes allows you to pay using prepaid cards, rather than your debit or credit card. This provides an additional layer of safety, making it impossible for your child to spend ad libitum.
Reach Out To Your Mobile Operator
Sometimes mobile operators will allow you to recoup money lost through online store purchases that you did not authorise. Ring them up and ask for a gesture of goodwill. They may comply with your request, especially if they can see that the activity on your account is unusual.