So your child is finally ready for their first phone, leaving you wondering how they grow up so fast – and what the best SIM deal for an eleven-year-old is anyway!
Whether you're buying a SIM for a child or teen, the number of providers and plans to choose from can make the whole decision a daunting task. Apart from pricing, there are a few things to think of before signing the dotted lines, like parental controls, social media usage and family discounts – all of which we'll dive into here and more.
So without further ado, here are the best deals on child-friendly SIMs, along with what to look out for when shopping for a child-friendly SIM.
It's also worth mentioning that Virgin has introduced two new offers for lockdown - one based for families who are taking on remote learning, and another for vulnerable customers.
The former will grant Virgin mobile customers with families up to 20GB of additional mobile data per month to help with home-schooling. The offer will also a service in which kids can access educational resources without using up any of their mobile data - with Oak National Academy being the first to benefit.
Finally, vulnerable customers who are on Pay As You Go can get a free contract which includes 500 minutes, 500 text messages and 1GB of extra data every month, whilst vulnerable customers on contract can get unlimited minutes and 10GB of additional data every month. These offers will be in place until the end of March.
Visit the Virgin Media website for more information.
Best cheap SIM plans for kids with (some) data
iD Mobile currently has a great rate in the UK for 2GB of data for £6 per month. The plans last for a month at a time and also include data rollover so any unused data carries over into the next month.
GiffGaff is another provider that offers low-cost data plans, which it calls "goodybags". Its cheapest goodybag starts at £6 per month for 500MB, while it's best value plan, called the "golden goodybag", offers 9GB of data for £10. See other Giffgaff plans.
Smarty is another provider to consider. You can pick up 30GB of data for £10 which offers better value than iD with three times more data, but is slightly more expensive. Smarty has smaller data packages too, and like ID, its plans last 30 days, giving you the flexibility to end service whenever you want.
Best kids SIM-Only plan for streaming
There’s no doubt your child will want to watch content while on their phones – a lot of it. Thankfully, some network providers bundle streaming services with their contract plans.
O2 plans include Disney+ for six months, which is sure to keep your child happy. The best plan is 100GB for £10 per month for the first six months on an 18 month plan - the subscription goes up to £20 per month after the initial six month are up.
Three’s Go Binge feature on plans with 12GB data or more, allows endless social media use without eating into the data limit. Three's best offer for kids is on the 24-month plan which offers 12GB for £12 per month. Go Binge offers unlimited access to Snapchat, Netflix, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Deezer and TV Player.
Best kids SIM plan for social media
For lower data limit, there’s Voxi’s 12GB plan for £10 per month which is its cheapest. Voxi plans include unlimited access to social media to apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Messenger. This doesn’t include voice and video calls however.
Best cashback SIM deal - Cheap data plans with high data allowance
If you don’t mind cashback, the best SIM deal for unlimited data right now is with Vodafone for £14.50 per month, available from Mobiles.co.uk. You’ll just need to claim every few months by sending your bill to Mobiles through the online account. Here’s how:
Family SIM plans and discounts
Don’t forget, if you’re already on O2 you can also qualify for a family discount while also consolidating yours and your child’s bill into one. You can add up to 20 connections on a Family plan with O2 and get up to 20% off from your fifth connection and onwards.
In fact, most major providers offer family plans to existing customers, so it's worth checking if your current provider has any Family SIM deal programs in place.
Parental controls on SIM
All major phone networks in the UK such as EE, O2, Three and Vodafone automatically block 18+ content – though this is via the data connection and not Wi-Fi.
Additionally software like Qustodio and Net Nanny are some of the best parental control software that filter out inappropriate content to keep your kids safe online, while also offering tools to monitor and limit your children’s device and net use.
Data capping or not?
Most often SIM plans will automatically stop service once you've reached the limit, or text you when you've used up a sizeable portion.
Parents, however, might still want to consider data or usage capping features when buying a SIM for a child. You might be prompted to sign up for this option when you buy the SIM from the network provider. This helps limit charges that are out of contract such as picture messaging, long distance calls or additional data usage.
You can choose to set a £0 cap, which means your child won't be allowed any additional spending outside the plan's limits. Alternatively, you can set a budget beyond the base value of the plan if you want flexibility. This might be a helpful safety net for your child if they need additional minutes or texts to reach you. O2 for instance, allows a spending cap up to £200.