Teens, Cell Phones and Data Caps

We live in a 4-iPhone household. I have one, as do my wife and my two teenage boys. My daughter is nowhere near cell phone age yet. No rush, either.

When my middle child got a cellphone a couple of years ago, I reviewed our plan and adjusted our data cap accordingly. I am a fairly heavy phone user and never use more than a gig of data per month, so I settled on a shared 4-gigabyte plan and told the kids to keep it under a gig each. It shouldn’t have been a problem. It wasn’t, either, until this month.

verizon-data-capA couple of weeks ago I got the dreaded text message from Verizon saying that we had used 75% of our allotted data for the month. Since our billing cycle for the month was not yet 75% complete (not even close) I knew that we were probably going over.

I looked at the usage breakdown and saw that my older son was the culprit. I told him as much and that he would have to pay the overage if we did go over. It turns out that he was using his phone much more when not within reach of a wifi network (at work) and at school, where the service is spotty and lots of sites are blocked.

I told him that he would have to pay $20 per month for any month in which we exceeded the cap and he was the culprit. I thought that would put an end to his data splurge but guess what? It didn’t.

When we spoke about it last night, he told me that he had given it some thought, and had decided that “unlimited” wireless was worth $20/month.

If your kids are younger than 16, maybe this will give you an idea of how important teens’ phones are, and not just for communication. Entertainment and information weigh heavily in the equation. Their life is on that phone. Make sure that you, as a parent, also know what is on there.


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