fbpx

Living With a Teenage Data Hog

After children reach a certain age, most parents give in to their desire for a mobile phone. We like being able to find them at any moment, and they risk being left out if their friends can’t ping them. A Pew Research Center report from last year found that 88 percent of American teenagers now have phones.

But today’s smartphones have earned that name because of their ability to suck in and spit out data at ever-faster rates. That gets expensive, quickly, and figuring out who should pay for the data, how much, and according to what rules, can be a giant headache.

So first, an opening proposition: The ability to access the internet via a cellular signal, in those passing moments when Wi-Fi is not available, is a want and not a need for most teenagers. And if they want it, they should pay for it themselves.

But when I share that assertion with many parents I know, they often respond by patting me on the head and telling me to get back to them when my 10-year-old has a phone and all her friends do, too. To those parents, a data plan is no indulgence. Their kids are busy — constantly on the way to an athletic event or rehearsal. They don’t want to deprive their kids of the ability to stream music or stay connected with their friends on data-draining apps like Snapchat. So a data plan is a given, and the parents are willing to pay.

But just how high a bill is reasonable? I suggest the budgeting approach: Parents pay for a certain amount of data each month, the children track how much they’ve used, and then they pay for anything beyond that allotted amount.

It’s simple enough in theory. Carriers lets customers check to see how much data each person in a family plan has used so far during the month, and the privilege of having a phone should come with the responsibility of keeping track.

That approach does, however, require you to sit down with your teenager and identify the sources of data drain and perhaps set rules for when those apps ought to go off. The Times’s Wired Well columnist, Jennifer Jolly, lives with a data-draining teenager. She suggests turning off any features on a teen’s phone that drain data automatically in the background. Also, track the apps that use the most data and limit data hogs like Spotify or Snapchat to times when the teenager has Wi-Fi access. One additional hint: The more video an app records, transmits and receives, the higher the data bill is likely to be. Call your carrier or consult online forums if you need more help.

In an ideal world, this approach teaches patience, self-control and restraint. Your kids can always watch a video a little later over Wi-Fi, after all. And many messages – most, even – can wait a bit.

But in a less than ideal world, teenagers tend to go over their caps, especially if their friends send lots of videos back and forth via Snapchat. Some parents have enough money to simply pay for the overages. But discussions about those bills are useful. If we don’t set limits, after all, who will? And isn’t our job to get our kids ready for the moment when they really will be paying their own bills?

A few years ago, I wrote about the Russell Plan, named after Mary Kay Russell, a mother of four sons in Naperville, Ill. She added her sons to the family’s cellphone plan when they were ready for their first phones, and the cheap devices they received came with unlimited calls and texting. The boys were welcome to burn data to their hearts’ content on an upgraded phone, but if they wanted to do that, they would have to pay for the device and prepay $360 for a year’s worth of data. The oldest waited until age 21 to get his first fancy phone.

Perhaps his response to the family’s strategy was not such a big surprise. The cost of a smartphone plus data is a big pile of cash to a middle school student who may not have many ways to earn money. Parents who can afford it might consider raising a child’s allowance some to put the decision just within their reach – and make the possibility of waiting on an upgraded phone more enticing.

How much more allowance might they get? It depends on whether you’re asking them to use allowance to cover lunch, snacks, transportation and clothing, too. But you could increase the allowance enough to pay for 50 or 75 percent of a basic data plan, so that the choice to purchase it would involve some sacrifices elsewhere.

Yes, you’re technically “paying” for the data plan in this instance, but that’s true with allowance in general. Once your children have it, the money will feel like it’s their own, and the trade-off will feel real, too.

The Russell children could have asked for upgraded mobile devices and money toward data for birthdays or Christmas, but they often had other priorities. Which is great: We want our children making financial trade-offs, since that is what they’ll have to do as grownups just about every day of their adult lives.

admin
20 comments
  1. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for adreamoftrains best hosting website host adreamoftrains
    website hosting services

  2. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I in finding It truly useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I am hoping to give something back and aid others like you
    helped me.

    Here is my webpage website hosting companies

  3. Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download
    it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your theme. Cheers

    Feel free to surf to my web page hosting services

  4. Thank you for any other excellent article. The place else may just anyone get
    that type of info in such a perfect manner of
    writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at
    the search for such info.

    Have a look at my site – website hosting services

  5. Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a
    significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Here is my site – best website hosting

  6. Hi colleagues, nice post and nice arguments commented at this place, I am really enjoying by these.

    Visit my webpage: website hosting services

  7. Hi there! I know this is kind of off-topic however I needed
    to ask. Does managing a well-established website such as
    yours take a massive amount work? I am completely new
    to blogging however I do write in my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog
    so I will be able to share my own experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for
    brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou! cheap flights 2CSYEon

  8. I believe what you said made a lot of sense. However, consider this, suppose you were to create a awesome headline?
    I ain’t suggesting your information is not solid,
    however suppose you added a post title to possibly get people’s attention? I mean Living With a Teenage Data Hog
    – Sin City Salseros is a little plain. You might
    glance at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create article headlines to grab people
    interested. You might try adding a video or a pic or two to grab people excited about everything’ve written. Just my opinion, it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.
    cheap flights 3aN8IMa

  9. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff
    previous to and you are just too magnificent. I actually like
    what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which you
    say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it sensible.
    I cant wait to read much more from you. This is actually a tremendous site.

    cheap flights y2yxvvfw

  10. I always spent my half an hour to read this web site’s content every day along with
    a mug of coffee.

    Also visit my website :: webhosting

  11. I got this web site from my buddy who shared
    with me on the topic of this site and now this time I am visiting
    this site and reading very informative articles at this place.
    cheap flights 32hvAj4

  12. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.

    I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback. cheap flights 3gqLYTc

  13. hey there and thank you for your information – I have certainly picked up something new from right here.

    I did however expertise several technical issues using this site,
    as I experienced to reload the website lots of times previous to I could get it to load correctly.
    I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score
    if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Anyway I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for much more of your
    respective intriguing content. Ensure that you update this again soon.

    Check out my webpage :: cheap flights

  14. Why people still make use of to read news papers when in this technological world all is accessible on web?

    Here is my site; cheap flights

  15. Hi there, I enjoy reading through your post.
    I like to write a little comment to support you.

    Visit my site: cheap flights

  16. Thanks for finally writing about > Living With a Teenage Data Hog – Sin City Salseros < Loved it!

    Here is my web blog :: cheap flights

  17. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed
    reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will always bookmark your
    blog and will come back very soon. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great
    writing, have a nice evening!

    My web site :: cheap flights

  18. I was recommended this blog by my cousin.
    I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know
    such detailed about my trouble. You are incredible!
    Thanks!

    my web blog :: black mass

  19. I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This article posted
    at this site is genuinely pleasant.

    Feel free to visit my site … black mass

  20. These are in fact impressive ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some nice factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    Take a look at my site: best web hosting sites

Write a Comment