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. 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 teenager'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. If you already have BT broadband, you will automatically receive a fiver off the monthly cost, which, at £10, immediately makes this SIM-deal even better value for money.
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.
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 is owned by Carphone Warehouse and operates on the Three network. It offers some very good-value deals, and also rolls over any unused data to the next month. 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.
A 1GB SIM-only deal is likely to be ample if you are getting your child their first phone as most of the time they will be on wi-fi anyway, and the unlimited texts mean they can chat away to their friends happily.
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.
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.