It seems like only yesterday, they were toddling around, chirping with delight over the simplest little things. In no time at all, those chubby little hands grew, quickly developing an ardent desire to get their hands on a smartphone.
When providing their child with a phone, parents often pass on an old handset or perhaps choose a kid-friendly phone. This is where the SIM-only contract comes into play. When searching for a SIM deal, it's worth prioritising deals with lots and lots of data. Kids love data. There are flexible rolling 30-day contracts or longer 12-month deals to choose from. We've found the following five great SIM-only deals for kids.
Boasting a stonking 12GB of data, plus unlimited minutes and texts, this deal ought to satisfy your child's hunger for watching endless YouTube videos, and also keep them in contact when they roam free. It's also moderately priced, although you do have to sign up for a year.
This package also includes Three Mobile's useful Go Binge feature, so watching videos or TV shows on Netflix or listening to Apple Music or Deezer won't eat into their data allowance.
This SIM-only deal offers great value for money, especially with unlimited calls and texts thrown in for good measure.
BT really comes into its own when you sign-up for two or more SIMs, known as a Family SIM deal. When choosing a Family SIM deal, the first SIM is on a 12-month contract, but all the others are on rolling 30-day contracts, providing handy flexibility over your child's phone privileges. Plus, if you already have BT broadband, you will automatically receive a fiver off the monthly cost, which immediately makes this SIM-deal even better value for money.
Although it costs a bit more than the other SIMs in this list, this giffgaff deal gives the boon of unlimited data. This is fantastic for kids with a burning need to watch Fortnite videos all day. There is a slight catch, in the form of a 20GB fair use limit. After downloading 20GB of data the connection speed is reduced for the rest of that month except in the middle of the night when they are hopefully tucked up in bed.
Let's face it, one of the main reasons we buy our child a phone is to find out where they are if they are running late. Unlimited calls and texts mean kids won't blow their entire call allowance in the first week and the 30-day rolling contract means you can leave or change the plan at any time.
ID Mobile makes it onto the list because of its low-cost and reasonably-priced data allowance. ID is also the only provider in this list to roll over unused data, adding it onto the next month's data allowance (we ought to mention that other providers, not mentioned here, also roll-over unused data). This means that your child won't waste any unused data. Plus, as it is on a rolling 30-day contract, you can assess the usage and change the package should you need to without being penalised.
This SIM-only deal would be ideal for those on a budget or for trusting parents of prudent kids who use the home wi-fi connection a lot.
This Tesco Mobile SIM has an attractively low monthly cost and although minutes and texts aren't unlimited, it's a very sociable kid who can get through 5000 texts each month. The 1B of data on this plan is probably ample for most kids, seeing as for much of the time they will have access to free wi-fi at home or at friends' houses.
Tesco Mobile also offers the ability to cap your monthly spend with a 'Safety Buffer', allowing parents to set an upper limit for bills. Once the limit is reached, your child won't be able to make any more calls. But with 500 minutes included, and the increasingly popular alternative option of wi-fi calling, it's unlikely they'll ever run out of call time.
How an individual child uses their phone will vary of course, but as a general rule, you should find a SIM with lots of data, and plenty of call time. This way your child won't run out of minutes just as they miss their bus home. Happily, there are many SIM deals available with lots of data and high or unlimited call allowances.
In a word, yes. Where capping is available it's a good way to prevent bills getting out of hand, by setting an upper limit which your child can't exceed. Despite a lot of plans offering unlimited minutes and texts, there are still ways to run up a large bill (photo messaging, premium rate numbers etc), so capping their ability to spend is a good idea. The Ofcom website has a section devoted to avoiding bill shock.
Picture messaging (MMS) can catch people out. In a lot of contracts this is not part of your text allowance, and can really add-up. An MMS doesn't need to contain a picture or video either. Messages over 160 characters will also be sent in MMS form, so it's best to encourage kids to use messaging apps to send pictures or longer messages, but check how to use these services safely first.
It's also a good idea to speak with your child about premium rate lines, which are often used for competitions or directory services. If a number starts with 084,087,09 or 118 it usually won't be included in your SIM's minute allowance and will cost extra.
Allowing your children to connect to your home wi-fi is a great way to save their mobile data allowance, but remember to set adult content filters to keep your child from stumbling on anything disturbing or inappropriate.
It's important to check with your individual provider, but most mobile data connections have adult content blocked by default, requiring a credit card or similar proof-of-age to unlock it.
Your provider's website can give you some more in-depth advice on the subject, or you can visit the Internet Matters website which has lots of advice as well as instructions for setting up filters for most popular broadband providers.
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