All I want for Christmas is my own cell phone....

All I want for Christmas is my own cell phone….

So have you decided your tween or teen is mature enough to have a cell phone?

No doubt many children have a wireless device at the top of their wish list for the holidays. It’s a big purchasing decision for parents. For kids, having a cell phone is more about being cool; for parents it’s about peace-of-mind and cost.

Below are some AT&T cell phone shopping tips for parents.

·         The first thing AT&T suggest parents do when they’re considering a wireless device for their child is to do what we call a “cell assessment” to determine the plan and device that best meets the child’s AND family’s needs.

·         For example, HOW is your child going to be using the device? Will she be making voice calls only? Be using it for texting… surfing the Internet… or staying connected with her social networks?

·         If you’re okay with your child texting – and that IS the No. 1 way kids today prefer to communicate today – you’ll want to make sure you have the appropriate texting plan. At the rate most kids text message today, most families find it more economical to go with an unlimited messaging plan to avoid overages at the end of the month.

·         Consider WHEN AND WHERE your child is going to be using the device.  Will the child being using her device during peak calling times? How many minutes each month do you think she’ll need? Also, make sure you have coverage in the areas where your child plans to use the device most. Check out your provider’s coverage maps. We have a tool called the Coverage Viewer that lets you see what our coverage is like right down to the street level.

·         If you don’t want to sign a contract or are on a tight budget, then consider a prepaid option. With the prepaid option, you pay as you go.

·         If you have a child headed to college, you’ll probably want to consider a Smartphone or a tablet so they can easily stay connected to you and their friends wherever they are. Also, if your child is going to an out-of-state college, consider a national plan to avoid unnecessary roaming charges.

·         Don’t forget to take advantage of tools that help you keep track of your children and set limits on their use. Check with your provider to see what type of location-based services they have. For example, AT&T offers FamilyMap which lets you track the location of your child’s phone from a PC or mobile device. Also, ask your provider what parental controls are available to you. Our Smart Limits for Wireless parental controls let you determine the times of day your child can use the device for calling, texting and web browsing; you can filter access to Internet content, define the # of texts and IMs allowed; block or allow calls and even set limits for mobile web browsing by assigning a monetary or MB or GB usage limit. So parental controls are another way you can control cost.

·         If everyone in your household is with the same provider, consider a family plan that lets users on the account share minutes.

·         Learn how to keep track of minutes to help you better manager your child’s wireless plan. From an AT&T device you can dial *MIN# to see how many minutes have been used or *DATA# to check on data usage.