Our Cellphone Plan Technique for 4 Youngsters

As a household with 4 children, with the oldest two being virtually 13 and eleven, we’re beginning to consider getting them smartphones.

When our oldest was about eight, we obtained him a Gizmo Watch. We wished to have the ability to talk with him and a Gizmo Watch was the best (and most reasonably priced) approach as a result of we have been already utilizing Verizon for our telephones.

The Gizmo Watches have been a great gateway gadget as a result of they taught them accountability (hold it secure, clear, charged) whereas not giving them an excessive amount of capacity – they might solely textual content and name with a couple of accredited folks. No web, no distractions at college, however we may discover them and attain them when obligatory.

Now that our oldest is nearly 13, we’re about getting into the time when he would possibly want a cellular phone. He hasn’t requested for one but. And he usually talks about how children at college are sometimes taking part in on their telephones or Chromebooks, moderately than doing work, so he’s mature sufficient to know the hazards. However he’s additionally child. It’s a dopamine tradition.

I’ve seen children his age (typically even youthful) with older iPhones and whereas I nonetheless assume we’re a couple of years away from going full smartphone, I wish to begin researching the choices now so I do know my choices.

Desk of Contents
  1. When Ought to A Child Get a Cellphone?
  2. What Are Our Cellphone Choices?
  3. Low-Value Cell Cellphone Plans
    1. Mint Cellular
    2. Tello
    3. Twigby
  4. “Full Service” Cell Cellphone Plans
  5. Smartwatch (Apple Watch)
  6. Units Get Handed Down

When Ought to A Child Get a Cellphone?

This can be a tough query. And one you’ll should reply to your personal child as each child is totally different.

Our oldest is pretty accountable and we belief his capacity to reasonable his utilization. However I additionally know a child is a child and movies are enjoyable to look at. Chatting with associates is enjoyable. I’ve been to events the place barely older children simply sit on their telephones within the nook and watch short-form movies the entire time. The entire time.

I additionally know the sturdy attraction of social media and the way that may distort a toddler’s mind very simply (it distorts grownup brains fairly simply too!). He’s on a couple of group chats and I can see him get sucked into them and people are simply chats!

The explanation social media apps, particularly short-form video apps, are so fashionable is as a result of they depend on dopamine suggestions loops.

Full abstinence just isn’t the reply. For telephones or anything. 😆

So this provides us a possibility to show him use these units responsibly.

Seeing our two oldest handle with good(ish) watches offers us a great way to ascertain boundaries and be taught to make use of expertise for good and never for dopamine hits.

My tentative plan is to:

  • Smartphone in highschool
  • Smartwatch in center college
  • Gizmo Watch in elementary college (beginning at round 2nd grade)

What Are Our Cellphone Choices?

There are three choices:

  1. Low-Value Cell Cellphone – Limiting information and utilizing an MVNO provider
  2. “Full Service” Cell Cellphone – Including them to your present household plan
  3. Sensible Watch – All of the communications functionality, not one of the scary apps 😂

Low-Value Cell Cellphone Plans

There was an enormous proliferation of low-cost cellular phone plans that piggyback off one of many bigger provider networks. They often called Cellular Digital Community Operators (MVNO) as a result of the supplier doesn’t personal their community – they use a much bigger firm’s community (Verizon, T-Cellular, and so on.).

And we’re seeing fairly a little bit of consolidation on this house because the bigger networks purchase these MVNOs. T-Cellular simply acquired U.S. Mobile after shopping for Mint Cellular in 2023. They nonetheless function independently although.

You’ll be able to take a look at our full record of the most affordable household cellular phone plans right here.

Mint Cellular

Mint Cellular might be probably the most well-known due to Ryan Reynolds’ involvement (he’s so dreamy!).

Mint Cellular gives Premium Wi-fi for $15 a month. It comes with limitless speak and textual content plus 5 GB of high-speed information. In the event you exceed 5 GB of knowledge in a month, you continue to get information, nevertheless it’s slower.

If you would like extra high-speed information, you simply pay extra. You may get a household plan with a number of traces, every on a special information plan. You simply should convey your personal unlocked 4G LTE and VoLTE-friendly cellphone for every line.

These plans are actually no totally different than “full service” cellular phone plans, besides they’re terribly low-cost. The one distinction is that your quantity of “excessive velocity information” is proscribed as a result of they use one other provider’s community (in identify solely although, since T-Cellular acquired them in 2024).

Right here’s our full assessment of Mint Cellular.


Tello is one other low-cost cellular phone plan possibility for the children. It has a no-data plan that features 100 minutes of calling and free texts for $5 a month. You may as well add one GB of knowledge for simply $6 a month.

What’s neat about Tello is that it allows you to construct your personal plan so you may customise the variety of minutes and information and so they provide you with a worth. So you could possibly customise totally different plans to totally different youngsters’s wants.

For instance, you could possibly do a no-data plan with restricted speak for a youthful youngster, however then give your older youngster limitless speak and a couple of GB of knowledge. You’ll be able to simply modify because the youngster ages so that they all the time have the suitable quantity of service for his or her age.

Right here’s our full Tello assessment.


Twigby runs on the Verizon community and has 4 plans that embody information. The least costly is $15 a month ($5 for the primary three months) and comes with 2GB of knowledge and limitless speak and textual content. The most costly is $35 a month ($25 for the primary three months) and that has 20GB of knowledge and limitless speak and textual content.

The center two plans are 5 and 10 GB of knowledge with limitless speak and textual content for $20 or $25 per 30 days, respectively.

Like most MVNOs, should you go over the info restrict, you may nonetheless use information; it’s simply not excessive velocity. Twigby states extra information is 2G speeds which isn’t sufficient for streaming.

In the event you’d moderately not have any information in your plan, you may get simply limitless speak and textual content for $10 a month ($5 for the primary three months).

Right here’s our full assessment of Twigby.

“Full Service” Cell Cellphone Plans

This was our first consideration – we may give our oldest one in all our outdated iPhones after which add the road to our plan. That is the “best” reply as a result of all you need to do is add a line to our present plan. It’s additionally the most costly as a result of our plan offers us limitless information – every of our traces prices $80 a month (however we get $10 off from this Verizon loyalty hack).

Simply reviewing our personal account made me pause — do I really want a $80-a-month cellphone? Might I get by with an MVNO cellphone at half the value? How a lot information am I actually even utilizing?

Primarily based on common utilization, it seems that I take advantage of a whole lot of information and I work at home! (my beautiful spouse makes use of much more… however she truly leaves the home)

However even at 15 GB a month, with Mint Cellular you’d solely be on the 2nd lowest plan and that prices $35 a month. It’s one thing price contemplating should you’re on a full-service plan.

We talked to fairly a couple of folks about this (many in the identical scenario the place they’re enthusiastic about telephones for his or her children) and so they’ve gone with a MVNO as a result of it’s a lot cheaper. Mint Cellular’s “limitless” (which is a 40 GB restrict) continues to be solely $40 a month. That’s $40 lower than what we’re paying and I take advantage of lower than 10 GB a month.

Going “full service” with our son’s cellphone doesn’t make a lot sense.

Smartwatch (Apple Watch)

Spoiler Alert: That is what we ended up doing.

That is much like going with a “Full Service” cellular phone plan besides as an alternative of including a cellphone, you’re including a smartwatch. In our case, we opted to go along with an Apple Watch.

This provides you the power to succeed in your youngster and so they can textual content their associates, however they don’t have entry to a whole lot of the identical apps you may get on the cellphone. For instance, there isn’t any TikTok app (natively) for the Apple Watch.

There are methods to get round it although, so in case your child is sneaky and sufficiently motivated, getting them an Apple Watch doesn’t imply you don’t want to observe their exercise.

With an Apple Watch, our prices are simply $10 a month (plus charges and surcharges). It’s cheaper than the MVNO cellphone plans nevertheless it’s additionally only a smartwatch plan.

It’s the quantity of functionality we’re snug with. When the time involves improve, I think we’ll cross on one in all our telephones (we’re each on iPhone 12s) and activate him on a MVNO like Mint Cellular or Twigby.

Units Get Handed Down

Very like garments, units are handed down from youngster to youngster. Our oldest will get the advantage of getting the latest units (although they’re used or handed down from our associates with out children!), however this provides us a path ahead to electronics with out big upfront prices.

Whereas we purchased the Gizmo Watches model new, they’re getting handed right down to our youthful children so we will keep away from the fastened prices plus any activation prices. We simply renamed the watch!

When the time comes for our son to get a cellphone, he’ll get one of many ones we’re utilizing.

It’s an iPhone 12, so it’s 3+ years outdated, nevertheless it works simply advantageous.

It’s not like he’s getting a Blackberry. 😂

What do you concentrate on our plan? Is it wise? Silly? It’s a piece in progress, so let me know what you assume!

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