How to Limit Your Kid’s Cellphone Usage

Boy on cellphone in bed.
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When your kids aren’t the ones paying the cellphone bill, they often don’t care how much data they’re using. And this can mean running out of full-speed data before the month is up, or, even worse, it could mean your children are accessing apps and content that they shouldn’t be.

Luckily, cellphone carriers offer a number of parental control options to help you monitor your children’s phone usage, at least while they are still on your family plan. Here are the family controls offered by each of the major carriers.

Sprint Parental Controls

Sprint’s Parental Controls help you manage both your child’s safety and your budget. Parental Controls is a free service for Sprint’s customers, allowing you to:

  • Set restrictions on the type of websites your children can access.
  • Restrict app downloads and purchases on your child’s cellphone — ringtones, screen savers and games, for example.
  • Specify which phone numbers your child’s phone can receive and call.
  • Restrict camera access on your child’s phone.

If you’re an existing Sprint customer, you can easily register for Parental Controls online simply by entering your Sprint phone number, verifying your identity and creating a username and password.

Verizon Smart Family

Verizon has a number of family safeguards and controls that you can add to your account. One of them, Verizon Smart Family, lets you:

  • Filter which types of apps your kids can access from their phones.
  • Filter what kind of websites your kids can access.
  • Pause their access to the internet — whether on Wi-Fi or while they’re using mobile data.

Verizon’s Smart Family Premium option not only protects your children from unsafe internet content but also allows you to track your child’s location, giving you peace of mind when it comes to the physical safety of your kids.

Verizon Smart Family is just $4.99/month, and Smart Family Premium is $9.99/ month. Verizon offers a 30-day free trial of Smart Family Premium so you can test it out first and see whether you like it.

AT&T Smart Limits Parental Controls

AT&T’s Smart Limits is designed for parents who want more control over how their kids use their phones. Smart Limits allows you to:

  • Manage your child’s use of data and texts each month.
  • Monitor whom your child is calling and texting in real time.
  • Set time restrictions so your kids can only make calls, text and use their data during specified times — no more staying up late on YouTube for them!
  • Receive alerts about your family’s cellphone activity.

This is a perfect solution to kids being on their phones too much and using up all of your data.

AT&T Smart Limits is $4.99/month for one line or $9.99/month for multiple lines (up to 10). You can enjoy the first 30 days for free and can access all of the benefits through the Smart Limits app.

T-Mobile’s Family Allowances

If you’re a T-Mobile customer, then monitoring and limiting your children’s cellphone usage can be done via the T-Mobile app or online at My T-Mobile. You’ll first need to add Family Allowances to your account, if you haven’t already done so. It will cost you a small monthly fee to enable this feature on your plan. T-Mobile’s Family Allowances will let you:

  • Set time limits for phone calls.
  • Set a limit on how many text messages each line can send and receive.
  • Specify the amount of money each line is allowed to spend on downloads such as games and apps.
  • Block your children’s access to their data, talk and text during specified times — during dinner time, for instance.

You can also designate safe and unsafe phone numbers for each line — up to 10 numbers on each list.

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