Minimizing Data Usage 101: Avoid going broke from your tween’s phone!

My daughter just got her first smartphone. Approximately six minutes after she received said phone, I received a text message from AT&T letting me know that I had used 96% of my monthly data allotment already. Wait, what?

Never coming *close* to using even half my plan’s data, I had no idea where to begin conservation.  As usual, I consulted my parenting mentor, Google, and found out how to stop the bleeding.

Regardless of your smartphone type, these tips can help keep your overage charges at bay. Consult the internet for specific instructions on how to accomplish the following:

#1 Disable Wi-Fi Assist

This little guy, disguised as helpful, is really just a dirty, dirty data thief. Wi-Fi Assist uses cellular data to bulk up a weak wi-fi connection, and does so without even alerting you. Go into your settings to turn off this function pronto!

#2 Turn off Auto-Backups

If you have iCloud or other cloud-based storage enabled on your child’s phone, you can choose to turn off non-vital back-ups like notes, calendars, web browsers or even photos since anything worth seeing has probably been shared on your child’s social media accounts already.

#3 Turn off Pre-loading and Auto-play Features

You know how when you’re scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, videos will auto-play within your newsfeed? Ya, that’s eating up your money, you’ll want to disable that. You can also tell apps like Instagram and Snapchat to only refresh your feed when you launch the app rather than constantly uploading in the background.

#4 Turn off certain Cellular Data Options

Stealthy hidden in various locations within your settings are options to use cellular data (if wi-fi isn’t available) for things like automatic app updates, listening to music (via Spotify, Pandora, etc.), playing games that require internet access and more. Consult the interwebs to determine how to disable these options for your phone type.

#5 Monitor your Data Usage

Expect that it’s going to take a few months to figure out how to keep data usage within your plan’s limit, but in the meantime, there are apps than can help. Download an account app from your phone carrier to see a detailed daily usage run rate. This will help you monitor when your usage has spiked, determine the cause and modify your (their) behavior.

#6 Create Rules around Phone Use

Since my daughter spends 99% of her time on the phone either watching videos or making them, we had to set a strict rule about needing to be on wi-fi for these types of activities. When we’re in the car, I have her turn the phone to Airplane Mode so although she can play games, she won’t be able to play any games that require a data transfer to play (also a great tool to sniff out the games that, unbeknownst to you, require a data transfer to play).

Please Note: Turn off cellular data usage and limit connectivity carefully—it’s easy to inadvertently disable calling or texting when outside of a wi-fi network which may be completely contrary to the reasons you provided your child with a phone in the first place. I want my daughter to be able to call me from the middle of the soccer field to tell me soccer practice ended (an undisclosed amount of time ago) if she needed to, hypothetically speaking. * deer-in-headlights emjoi face *

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