Author Topic: Teen and cell phone  (Read 3398 times)

Frugal Lizard

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Teen and cell phone
« on: December 07, 2016, 08:44:36 AM »
Not sure if this is in the right category - but my mini mustaches are the same height as me. I want to ask those with older offspring - When is a smart phone needed for the modern mustachian teen?  (Or am I falling into helicopter parenting)

We are not a big cell phone family.  I work freelance and got a new gig in May that involves being out of town three to four times a month.  I felt I needed to get a smart phone so that I could check my emails and seem as available to existing clients as ever and feel connected to my kids who are very much more accustomed to me being at home working in my basement studio.  I passed along my ancient pay-as-you-go flip phone to my hub - who has never had a cell phone.  Mostly he uses it to receive texts from me or the kids call him to find out when he is going to be home from work.

Now my son is in grade 10 and going out for all the sports teams.  He got through grade 9 by using other kid's cells to arrange for a ride or let us know what he is up to.  I don't mind him borrowing a phone to call if I am also giving the phone owner ride but that is not always the case.  The pay phone in the school is frequently out of order or he has gone somewhere else and didn't know what was happening or where in the morning when we made the plan.  I don't want him to be a freeloader. I would like to be able to text him directly or tell him a change of plans or be able to offer more carpooling options - he doesn't like to offer a ride or get one with someone else without asking first. He would be able to use wifi near the school and at home so the plan wouldn't have to be fancy.

BTW he is the only kid in his social group without a phone.  But just because everyone else does, doesn't mean we should....when do true mustachians get their kids a smart phone?

I should add - we are in Canada
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 11:03:16 AM by Frugal Lizard »

ketchup

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2016, 08:51:09 AM »
It doesn't sound like he needs a smartphone, a simple dumbphone would do the job.

Maybe get him a cheap dumbphone on a cheapie plan, and allow him to get something fancier (that would probably match his peers) if he pays for it himself?

MsPeacock

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2016, 09:07:04 AM »
I just bought an $80 pay as you go smart phone for my older son. I choose pay as you go because I can make him responsible for paying for his useage. He is of the opinion that he needs a $700 phone and an unlimited data plan. He wants a smart phone and I am willing to go with that and let him pay for useage.

A simple $15 flip phone will handle texting and calls and you can get service through ting that should meet your cell phone useage needs.

Dave1442397

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2016, 09:11:57 AM »
We got my daughter the cheapest smartphone available at Republic Wireless (and you can also find compatible phones on ebay).

We picked the $10/month plan. She gets unlimited calls and is limited to wifi for data. There are so many public wifi connections available that it's not usually a problem for her. She's almost always at a friend's house, at school, or at home.

Daley

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2016, 09:31:49 AM »
I won't talk to the philosophical parenting angle much, but I will point out one of the most budget friendly, low use PAYGO plans available currently that's available from a provider that's in the guide. H2O Wireless Pay As You Go plans. $10/90 days, no monthly surcharges, 5/minute & SMS, 10/MMS/MB of data. ~$3.33 a month will get you 66 minutes of talk time and or text messages. If you want to make texting easier, get a cheap feature phone with a QWERTY keyboard, such as the ZTE Z431 (about $30-40). If they decide they want more and greater, make them pay for it all. Fortunately, H2O Wireless has some decent pricing on their monthly plans to scale up to if that sort of thing is desired by your teen.

No need to introduce the temptation of a smartphone, though. If your kid is already disciplined enough to be okay without at the age he is already, keep it simple, and don't introduce greater temptations by cracking the hedonic adaptation door wide open and sticking an unfiltered internet terminal with WiFi access and an unlimited talk and text plan in their pocket. Get enough to simply address these new needs. KISS, Frugal Lizard... KISS.

elaine amj

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2016, 09:38:52 AM »
Note: I'm in Canada :)

I got my daughter a used 64GB iPhone 5 from Kijiji for $100. Grandfather paid the extra $60 to unlock it. It was her birthday present. Any unlocked phone would work for this. She just happens to like iPhones and since we got a really good deal on it, we felt it was fine. Yes, it is much more phone than she "needs", but I was fine giving her a "toy" she likes for her birthday and frankly, its been a great value considering she uses it constantly. She had an old iPhone 4 we got used on Kijiji for $25 before that. I just couldn't stomach paying $60 to unlock such an old phone.

Then she used her own money and paid $35 for a year's worth of service from 7Eleven Speakout. She's had it since July and its worked well. The $35 plan only covers a very limited amount of texts/calls (avg of 7 texts/month I think?) so she only uses it for emergencies. 95% of the time, she uses Freetone, a free VOIP app which gives her a local Cdn phone number. She can call/text over wifi at her school and at home. I like that she has the Speakout plan now so she can contact me when she is out and about without wifi.

We are now talking about figuring out a similar system for my DS14. Will have to see if I can convince him to pay for a phone plan though (I'd prefer not to pay for it since his sister is paying for her own)... Right now, he can't be bothered to even use his sister's old iPhone 4 on wifi. He communicates with his friends on Skype and doesn't care about texting yet. I do have an ancient unlocked Blackberry that I'm thinking of making him carry around so we don't have to keep calling his friend's cellphone to track him down. I feel so guilty for freeloading! And yet - that friend has unlimited calling/texting on his phone and I do help his mom keep track of the kid.

An alternative for US kids who are willing to use a free VOIP app 95% of the time (like my daughter) is the Truphone plan. Calls/texts/data are 9cents each so more expensive, but there is NO expiry and NO minimum reloads. For very, very occasional use (2-3 text/calls a month would be $3+/year), it is the absolute cheapest plan (on a total cost/year) I could find in the US (I use it for traveling in the US).

« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 10:06:17 AM by elaine amj »

marielle

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2016, 09:45:38 AM »
You could try Ringplus.net. Some plans are as cheap as $10 a month, with unlimited texting/calling and 500 MB LTE and unlimited 2g data (so no overage costs). You can bring almost any phone, so perhaps buy a used one on Amazon/eBay or Craigslist. Smartphones are so cheap nowadays that it's not really that crazy to get your teen one (in my opinion). You can get one under $100 easily. I bought a fancypants Nexus 6 but coupled with free phone service for the past year (not really available anymore for high usage users) it was worth it.

Unique User

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2016, 10:11:49 AM »
I think I'm probably in the minority on this board.  My teen is in 10th grade and has a used iPhone 5.  She paid for half and I paid for half since she really wanted the upgrade.  We primarily got her a smartphone a couple years ago (a used iPhone 4 that I now use as my phone) as we've moved her halfway across the country three times and wanted her to be able to instagram and stay in touch with groups of friends that are in other states.  She had a dumb phone on one of our plans for $10 since 5th grade so we could text about pick ups, carpooling and logistics, but we haven't had a home phone in over 10 years and I got tired of her using mine. My husband travels M-F for work so it's nice that she can Facetime him during the week.  We restrict usage at night, phone is off by 9pm and I check all her accounts pretty regularly.  All that said, I'm quite sure guilt played into our decision.

Mr. Green

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2016, 10:34:47 AM »
It's funny how technology quickly becomes a "how did we get along without it" thing. I didn't get a cell phone until I went to college in 2001 and the big driver then was the cost of long distance. If your teen is responsible, there probably isn't a "need" for a phone at all. I played sports in high school and had multiple jobs. Never had a cell phone and there was never a situation that arose where my mom seriously considered one.

Of course the social implications of not having a smart phone these days is different but that doesn't fall into the "need" category. Mainly I'm thinking of how texting has replaced calling as the primary form of communication. There are tools that allow texting without a phone but the convenience is largely lost that way.

bugbaby

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2016, 10:43:44 AM »
Haha, I didn't get a cell till after graduating college, in 01. My preteens both have a $15-20 go phone on Airvoice $10/month for 250min /500 text & No data, and will stay on that till they earn their own phone. Myself I'm on H20 Wireless $30 plan ($27 with autopay) with a Nexus 5.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk


Prairie Stash

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2016, 11:18:03 AM »
Phones plans in Ontario can be had for $10/month (telus) where OP lives. These are talk/text plans and you can use free wifi for data.

Essentially you're asking if $10/month to satisfy parental expectations of phoning/checking in is reasonable. I think parents need to match expectations to reality; if you expect calls then you should make sure he can call.

I too grew up without a cell. When I went to camp, at 14, for 2 weeks I called home 0 times. When I did a road trip at 15 for a weekend, again there were no calls home. My parents accepted that, I can't recall calling home ever. It sucked a little, I didn't mind and my parents dealt with it.

Depending on where you live there is an even cheaper option. Just get a cell without a plan and use it to connect with wifi only (plans enable connection to cell towers). Its a bit more tech savvy, you use apps (like Skype) to phone over  free wifi and other apps can emulate texting. I use "Slack" on my phone for international texting, because its free. The downside is you can only use wifi spots, which isn't so good in rural areas or while travelling. I call my daughter (now 3) on her mothers iPad (the iPad only connects to wifi) using this strategy while travelling. Its all free via wifi, I've travelled to Ontario (OP's province) and done this. The article below explains it in more detail, just need a one time phone purchase.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-with-a-smartphone-and-no-cellular-plan/

So yeah, under $50 (purchase of older phone) can get you what you need in larger towns, $10 a month ongoing expense in smaller communities without public wifi.

elaine amj

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2016, 11:42:45 AM »
Depending on where you live there is an even cheaper option. Just get a cell without a plan and use it to connect with wifi only (plans enable connection to cell towers). Its a bit more tech savvy, you use apps (like Skype) to phone over  free wifi and other apps can emulate texting. I use "Slack" on my phone for international texting, because its free. The downside is you can only use wifi spots, which isn't so good in rural areas or while travelling. I call my daughter (now 3) on her mothers iPad (the iPad only connects to wifi) using this strategy while travelling. Its all free via wifi, I've travelled to Ontario (OP's province) and done this. The article below explains it in more detail, just need a one time phone purchase.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-with-a-smartphone-and-no-cellular-plan/

So yeah, under $50 (purchase of older phone) can get you what you need in larger towns, $10 a month ongoing expense in smaller communities without public wifi.

Took a look at the Slack app. Looks cool. I use WhatsApp, which is similar. Its the most popular one for my family (who all live in Malaysia), so that's what I use. Most people I know from China use WeChat. Facebook Messenger also offers messaging and calls if everyone has it. My DD uses Freetone because it actually gives her a local number so she can call/text over wifi with people who don't have the app. Since most people locally don't have any of these apps, Freetone is the most convenient, especially with casual acquaintances.

My DH is on a prepaid data-only plan (we spend about $15 total a month and he gets 20GB data/year - plenty for casual browsing and pretty much unlimited calling and texting). He uses the Fongo app. Costs a few bucks a month (vs $0 Freetone) so he could port his phone number. Like all VOIP apps, call quality is ok (can sometimes be choppy/unreliable) and texting works pretty seamlessly. It's a bit annoying, but so far he considers it worth it to save the $$. We researched - and any plan that would meet his needs would cost at least $35-$60/month.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2016, 12:14:16 PM »
Depending on where you live there is an even cheaper option. Just get a cell without a plan and use it to connect with wifi only (plans enable connection to cell towers). Its a bit more tech savvy, you use apps (like Skype) to phone over  free wifi and other apps can emulate texting. I use "Slack" on my phone for international texting, because its free. The downside is you can only use wifi spots, which isn't so good in rural areas or while travelling. I call my daughter (now 3) on her mothers iPad (the iPad only connects to wifi) using this strategy while travelling. Its all free via wifi, I've travelled to Ontario (OP's province) and done this. The article below explains it in more detail, just need a one time phone purchase.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-with-a-smartphone-and-no-cellular-plan/

So yeah, under $50 (purchase of older phone) can get you what you need in larger towns, $10 a month ongoing expense in smaller communities without public wifi.

Took a look at the Slack app. Looks cool. I use WhatsApp, which is similar. Its the most popular one for my family (who all live in Malaysia), so that's what I use. Most people I know from China use WeChat. Facebook Messenger also offers messaging and calls if everyone has it. My DD uses Freetone because it actually gives her a local number so she can call/text over wifi with people who don't have the app. Since most people locally don't have any of these apps, Freetone is the most convenient, especially with casual acquaintances.

My DH is on a prepaid data-only plan (we spend about $15 total a month and he gets 20GB data/year - plenty for casual browsing and pretty much unlimited calling and texting). He uses the Fongo app. Costs a few bucks a month (vs $0 Freetone) so he could port his phone number. Like all VOIP apps, call quality is ok (can sometimes be choppy/unreliable) and texting works pretty seamlessly. It's a bit annoying, but so far he considers it worth it to save the $$. We researched - and any plan that would meet his needs would cost at least $35-$60/month.
Now I feel like a dinosaur, thanks for teaching me :)  Is 40 the new 80 for being tech savvy?

Just looked up FreeTone and wow! Besides requiring wifi are there any drawbacks?
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.textmeinc.freetone&hl=en

Daley

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2016, 12:53:32 PM »
Phones plans in Ontario can be had for $10/month (telus) where OP lives.

Arrgh. I missed the Ontario part! Sorry about that. Definitely go with something like SpeakOut Wireless PAYGO as other Canadians have pointed out.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2016, 05:42:01 PM »
Thank you all for such quick replies.  It seems that everyone is not the surprised that I am considering getting a teen a mobile device.  Son has a laptop for school work so I guess he really only needs to be able to call/text and this is almost 100% in locations with no wifi. I was thinking it could be a Christmas present but he hasn't asked for it - it is more me wanting to be able to call him and tell him I will be late or to ask where I can find him or being able to say - "call me when you hit the showers and I will come and get you" rather than waiting in the car if practice runs late.

It hadn't occurred to me to even think about a very basic used phone.  He does tend to lose water bottles and hoodies although he has gotten a lot better this year.
 
I just don't want to feel like a freeloader - if he is always borrowing someone else's phone, it just seems wrong but then if he is just too lazy to run back to the school and email me or messenger me, that too is wrong. Then there is the whole being an adult and communicating thing - he is a reluctant communicator - rather hopes I will suddenly acquire psychic abilities.

It pisses me off to show up at the track on the other side of town and park beside my neighbour in our vans, when the boys could have come home together.  I feel really guilty if I show up after a two hour practice in the rain and he injured himself 90 minutes before and should have been at home with an ice pack on his ankle.  So I am trying to teach a multitude of lessons, raising a thoughtful man that cares for the earth and be a good mom. 

I must say I appreciate having a place that all the assumptions are up for questioning - his friends and teen cousins all just have fancy phones and plans so I feel like I am negligent in comparison.  My stepmom wanted to give him a smart phone for his birthday and hubs said he would be getting one first.  She kind of implied that he would be unemployable if he didn't keep up with technology now.  Frigging mine field, this parenting thing, I tell you.   

katscratch

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2016, 07:05:57 PM »
For us the tipping point was also an issue of 'borrowing' phones as more and more businesses no longer allow public phone use.  My kiddo has been biking to school (and then work) for years.  He kept his phone in airplane mode but it was there in case something catastrophic happened. 

Cannot Wait!

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2016, 08:56:46 PM »
I don't even have a cell phone so no way I'd be buying one for my teen!  I have a tablet and use an app for free calling and texting while on wifi. 
I'm old school but unless your phone is making you money  - it's just a luxury or a toy.  I *get* the social stigma for teens of not having a phone but, to me, it's right up there with not being decked out in Lululemon sweats or whatever the current trend is.  This brings up discussions about Need vs Want, branding, what's cool, etc - teachable moments.
True story: my old boss got his daughter a cell, she proceeded to rack up $$$ in the first month.  He had a talk with her;  second month; same thing!  I said, "Holy Shit, did you take the phone away?"  He said, "No, I got the unlimited data plan."  That would be a reverse teachable moment.  :(

elaine amj

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Teen and cell phone
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2016, 09:45:39 PM »
I don't even have a cell phone so no way I'd be buying one for my teen!  I have a tablet and use an app for free calling and texting while on wifi. 
I'm old school but unless your phone is making you money  - it's just a luxury or a toy.  I *get* the social stigma for teens of not having a phone but, to me, it's right up there with not being decked out in Lululemon sweats or whatever the current trend is.  This brings up discussions about Need vs Want, branding, what's cool, etc - teachable moments.
True story: my old boss got his daughter a cell, she proceeded to rack up $$$ in the first month.  He had a talk with her;  second month; same thing!  I said, "Holy Shit, did you take the phone away?"  He said, "No, I got the unlimited data plan."  That would be a reverse teachable moment.  :(

I agree - the smartphone is definitely a luxury/toy. That said, I'm no Luddite and I have no issues spending ~$100 (split with various grandparents since my own budget is $30ish) to give my child a toy they really enjoy for their birthday/Christmas. However, there is no budget in our house for a $600-700 gift so the fancy new smartphones are definitely beyond their reach.

I could get them a tablet like you use instead...no real difference in my mind except that a phone is more portable.

That said, my head would explode if my kids ever acted like your old boss' DD. They would never in a million years dream of doing stuff like that. My DD has a nice (used) iPhone 5 and is completely content using a free calling/texting app and a tiny phone plan for emergency use.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 09:48:48 PM by elaine amj »

elaine amj

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Re: Teen and cell phone
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2016, 09:55:45 PM »

Just looked up FreeTone and wow! Besides requiring wifi are there any drawbacks?
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.textmeinc.freetone&hl=en

Its pretty awesome. Works off wifi or data and can give you a local Cdn number (depending on your city).

I like that she can give it to her friends and they don't need to have downloaded the same app. Since most of them have unlimited texting plans, this works out well. She also likes texting me photos through the app.

You should be aware that call quality is iffy. Her school's wifi is a but spotty so she cannot make/receive calls at school (calling is fine at home). However, texting works seamlessly even with crappy wifi.

Sometimes it is hard to get a local number for your city (if they are running low in available numbers).

All in all, we LOVE it. Instead of paying $10/mo ($120/yr), she can get by on the $35/yr Speakout plan since 95% of the time, she has access to free wifi.