Navigating the cell phone issue with your children is a tricky one. According to the PewResearchCenter, around 88 percent of teenagers in America have a smartphone. It usually starts off with the ability to access favorite apps via Wi-Fi, and it goes on from there, progressing from a cell phone to a smartphone fairly quickly. As a parent, you want to be able to have access to your children no matter how busy their schedules get and they want to keep up with friends who might message them at any time. The problem is data.
Many of the apps that are so popular with kids today, like Snapchat or Spotify, are notorious for hogging up data. While you could prevent an issue by taking on a plan with unlimited data, you do have other options.
Tackling the Data Issue
First, you could rely on your children to monitor their own data usage. It is a good teaching moment and can help them take responsibility for their actions. However, the costs can be considerable if they go over — sometimes costing thousands of dollars, even with seemingly careful usage. Luckily, as a parent, you don’t have to rely on your kids to keep track of their own data usage. There are parental controls you can use to take charge of your children’s data usage.
Going to the Carrier
Some parental controls originate with the carrier. AT&T calls it Smart Limits and Verizon calls it a family management plan. The idea is that for an extra fee each month you gain access to data management tools for your account. Using your carrier, you can block cellular data for a single line, set up reminders for when data usage is heavy, or receive alerts about your children’s mobile activities.
You can also manage the issue with your phone. The Apple iPhone 6s has a feature called Restrictions that lets you limit which apps and features your children can use. It is included under Settings > General. Just create a passcode and navigate there on your iPhone 6s and scroll through the list of apps, tapping each slider to enable or restrict that app or feature. Using this feature, you can limit your child’s ability to purchase anything, install new apps, play certain games or add friends. You can also limit the volume and cellular data usage. Once you turn restrictions on, you will need to enter your passcode to turn it off. Plus, you can enable this feature when you let your children use your phone or set it up on their phones.
Account Management Tools
Apple also provides some other tools on the iPhone 6s that you might find helpful in preventing fees from your child’s data usage. In addition to Restrictions, you can also require a password before downloading any new content. This way, you can type in a password as needed without having to remove restrictions from the phone, however temporarily. Apple also offers a feature under Family Sharing called Ask to Buy that lets your children ask your approval for individual purchases.
Managing your children’s texting and data usage can be a real challenge. In addition to limiting the sheer amount of time most kids spend on their mobile devices, the costs of that usage can be extremely high. Take the right precautions.