October 30, 2014

Teens, Tweens and Wireless Plans

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Virgin Mobile. I received a sample device to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.
We are a cell phone only household.
We ditched the house phone about four years ago and haven't looked back.  Now that our kids are older, each of them has a cell phone and as a mom who never thought my kids needed a cell phone, middle school and high school are teaching me some valuable lessons about kids and cell phones.
Three boys, a little old lady, a husband, moi and all these phones.  
#VirginMobileMom #MC
According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center1,  78% of the teens surveyed have a cell phone and almost 1/2 of those kids have a smartphone.  Now before you gift your child with the latest and greatest cell phone there are few things to considerTake for instance, do they really need a phone?  Should you add them to your plan?  Prepaid? Contract?  No contract?  Will they use their phone for talk, text or internet?  How much can you really afford?  What about parental controls?  Will my kid be up all night searching the ends of the internet?

Do They Really Need a Phone?
My oldest son called saying he missed the bus back to the other campus and needed me to come pick him up.  My middle son sent me a text to let me know he was heading to the library to finish a school project after school.  My youngest called to ask if he could visit a friend after school.  With unforeseeable hiccups to our daily routine I feel a lot safer knowing my kids can call or text me if they need me. So yes, my kids really do need a cell phone. *in my Yoda Mom voice*

Individual Plan? Family Plan? Contract?  No Contract?
Managing one cell phone is easy peasy but when you have 3 or more cell phones things can get a little tricky.  Most plans offer a family plan.  A family plan is typically the most economical plan as there is a base price for the first phone and a charge for each additional line.  Some family plans allow you to share minutes and text and data.  Should you sign a contract or opt for a no-contract prepaid phone plan.  Nowadays nearly every carrier offers both contract and no contract phone plans.  Most contracts are 2 years and perks vary from carrier to carrier.  For example, you may get one service on one network and the same service may not be available on another network.  Phones tend to be a little less expensive on contract plans versus prepaid plans.  However, the monthly costs may be higher. Contract plans offer a limited selection of phones to choose from.  Whereas, no contract usually means a wider selection of phones to choose from but no contract = no discount on your phone purchase and phones can be expensive.

Talk. Text. Data. 
Hubby is a talker.  I am a texter.  The kids they are all about the data.  When choosing a cell phone plan, look for a plan to meet your family's needs.  Virgin Mobile offers affordable, customizable wireless plans to meet your family's talk, text and data needs. 

Virgin Mobile Custom lets me customize a plan to fit my family's needs.  Hubby gets more talk time.  I get more text messages and the kids get more data.  As our needs change, we can change the plan.  You can even add unlimited plans for apps like Instagram, Twitter, Pandora, Facebook and more to specific devices.   

How Much Can You, I Mean We Afford?
If you have a contract plan, beware adding teens and tweens to the family mobile plan can be quite surprising when the bill arrives.  One word, overages.  I remember the first time I saw a phone bill totaling over $1,000.  I couldn't believe it and it was all due to overages.  Too many texts.  Using more data than the contracted plan allotted.  All those power-sucking, data-draining apps running in the background.  As parents we can't expect our kids to be mindful of how much we spend on our family's phone plans so it's up to us to manage our family wireless plan.  Virgin Mobile Custom eliminates the guesswork and offers phones for as low as $80 and plans starting at $6.98.  Virgin Mobile Custom makes creating and modifying your family's wireless needs easy breezy.  
Setting House Rules
Recently our school district changed the Student Cell Phone Usage Policy and now kids can use their phones before school, after school and in the classroom with teacher permission.  My kid may need access to the internet during school hours but I cannot think of a single reason why they would need Facebook or Twitter during the school day so I need a plan to restrict those activities during the school day.  
Virgin Mobile Custom offers parental controls feature which allows me to manage access to certain apps and callers during specified times (i.e. during school, homework time, dinner, etc.) and even days of the week.  Virgin Mobile Custom offers more parental controls than some of the other plans I've seen.  You can access parental control features from the internet or from your Virgin Mobile device.  

Check out the links below for more info on Virgin Mobile Custom 

Source: 1   http://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media/Files/Reports/2013/PIP_TeensandTechnology2013.pdf


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