What’s the Right Age for Your Child’s First Mobile Phone?

In a world where kids using technology at a very young age, the question of when to give your child their first mobile phone is becoming increasingly relevant. Some parents opt for higher data mobile plans so their kids can use apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Others want their child to have a phone for emergencies only. There is no right or wrong answer, but it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons before deciding. Some parents find that their kid’s first mobile phone is a helpful tool, while others find it more of a hassle than it’s worth. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. But in this article, we’ll explore a few things you should consider before making the decision.

Factors to consider before giving your child a mobile phone


The first factor to consider is your child’s age. Most experts agree that children under 12 do not usually require their own phones. It relies on your child’s maturity and responsibility level if they are above the age of 12. Some children are ready for a phone at 12, while others are not until they are a few years older. Because there is no right or wrong age, it is helpful to trust your instincts.


Another factor to consider is whether your child needs a phone. If they take the bus to school, are involved in extracurricular activities, or have any other after-school obligations, a phone can be useful. It can give you peace of mind knowing that your child can reach you if they need to. On the other hand, if your child doesn’t have any after-school obligations, a phone may not be necessary.


To set your child up for success, it’s important that your child shows a level of maturity before having their own mobile phone. Some children are mature enough to handle a phone at a young age, while others are not. If you’re not sure if your kid is ready for a phone, consider giving them a basic mobile phone. Before upgrading to a smartphone, you might observe how they handle the responsibility of owning a phone.

If you decide to give your child a phone, you can do a few things to help sure they use it responsibly. Let’s explore a few of those things now.

Things to consider once your child is ready for a mobile phone

Choose the right phone

Once you’ve decided that your child is ready for a phone, the next step is to determine what type of phone they should use; a simple mobile phone or a smartphone. A simple mobile phone is perfect for kids who just need the essentials, to be able to make calls and send texts. It’s also a good option for kids who are not ready for the responsibility of a smartphone and may be likely to loose an expensive device. On the other hand, smartphones are better for older kids who are responsible enough to access the internet and use apps.

Limit screen time

One thing you can do to help make sure your child uses their mobile phone responsibly is to limit their screen time. There are a few ways to do this. You could set limits on the amount of time they can spend on their phone each day, or restrict certain apps or games known to be addictive. You can also encourage them to find other activities that they enjoy outside of using their mobile phone. You can help your child learn how to use their mobile phone responsibly by implementing these controls. 

Blocking certain apps

Another way is to block certain apps. This way, you can limit their screen time and what content your child has access to. You can also set up filters so they can only access age-appropriate content. Another option is to get a mobile phone plan that has low data. This way, you can limit how much they’re using the internet. By taking these steps, you can help make sure your child’s first mobile phone experience is positive.

Create phone-free zones

One way to help ensure your child uses their mobile phone responsibly is to create phone-free zones in your home. This means that there are certain areas, like the kitchen table or the living room, where mobile phones are not to be used. This will help to encourage face-to-face interactions and discourage the unhealthy overuse their mobile phone. You can also set up these mobile phone rules for specific times, like during homework or family mealtime. 

Limiting social media

Many mobile phone plans allow you to set limits on the amount of data your child can use each month, and this can be a helpful way to limit their social media usage. You can also talk to your child about responsible mobile phone use and explain why it is important to restrict their screen time. Children can also benefit from mini digital detoxes, so you may want to consider prohibiting your child from using social media on certain weekends or holidays. 

How to find the right mobile phone plan for your child

If you’re certain your child is ready for a mobile phone, you need to choose an appropriate mobile plan. To do this, think about how much data your child will need, taking into account any screen time rules you may have in place. It’s better to start with a lower data plan and then increase it if needed, rather than paying for a plan with unused data.

With plans from 1GB to 100GB data, there’s an option to suit every child; from surfing the web to simply making calls and texts.

Every Pennytel mobile plan includes unlimited standard calls & texts within Australia. Plus, if your child uses up the allocated mobile data for the month, there are no sneaky extra charges automatically applied to the service.

Our easy to use mobile app allows you to manage multiple phone numbers all at your fingertips. From tracking your data usage to viewing bills, you manage your mobile services all from your smartphone.

You should also consider the reception coverage in your area, this is especially important if you live in a rural area. Pennytel’s mobile plans provide a 4G coverage footprint of 97.9% and a combined 4G and 3G coverage footprint of more than 98.8% of the Australian population covering 1.62 million square kilometres. Use our map to see what coverage is offered in your area.

By taking these factors into consideration, you can find the perfect mobile phone plan for your child. However, if you didn’t get it right the first time, Pennytel plans have no lock-in contracts, so you can cancel, upgrade or downgrade your plan as you need to. Simple! 

16 February 2022

Have you noticed an increase in your mobile data usage lately? Here’s why and how to reduce it.   

Your mobile phone can use data far more quickly than you would expect. This is because many mobile apps continue to run in the background even when they are not being used, which causes mobile data usage. Running out of mobile data can be expensive and inconvenient, and is more likely to occur if you don’t know how to stop mobile apps from running in the background.

So why do Mobile apps run in the background?

There are many ways mobile apps can continue to run even when you have closed them. Your mobile phone mobile data usage can creep higher each month if these mobile app uses continue. The mobile data is being used by mobile apps that continue to run without your knowledge, whether for updating, location tracking or data collection. The increase in using other functions like FaceTime and in-app check-ins on mobile phones can also add to increased data usage. This mobile data usage makes your mobile phone mobile data plan reach its monthly limit much more quickly than you would like.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stop mobile apps from running in the background. If you learn how to get rid of excessive background data usage on your mobile phone or learn how to reduce background mobile data usage, you will save data to use on the things that matter. There are many simple steps you can take to protect your data usage, and you do not need to download any special tools. The steps outlined below will show you how to reduce your mobile phone’s background data usage.

Types of background Mobile Data usage and how to reduce It.

There are a few different types of background data usage. Let’s look at them individually to have a better idea of what may be using your data.
Updating apps
Many apps need to update from time to time. If your phone is not connected to the Wi-Fi, these updates can go through via mobile data. Your mobile data usage will shoot up when this happens, and you may not even be aware of it. To stop this background mobile data usage, make sure your phone settings do not allow apps to be updated unless the mobile phone is connected to Wi-Fi.
Check-ins on social media & other tracking apps
There are many apps that use your location for social media check-ins. These include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When you check-in, your location is sent to the app company through mobile data usage. It’s also worth noting that social media app often track your location 24/7 by default, however this setting can be changed to have location tracking only while using the app, cutting down on background data usage. 
COVID-19 has lead to a requirement for check-ins for many venues. This process can end up using a lot of data when using this function on a regular basis on your mobile phone. As a requirement for most, it is not something that cannot be avoided, however be sure to use public wifi where available or opt for signing in on pen and paper. 
Facetime & Video Calls
How much data does FaceTime and other video calling applications use? The answer is a lot. Facetime is one of the most common and popular apps that use mobile data for calls. You can easily switch your phone to use Wi-Fi only for FaceTime if you do not want to use mobile data for calls. This will stop it from using your mobile data if you’re connected to Wi-Fi. You may want to make sure that your home nbn plan is suitable to provide wifi calling. Most nbn plans have unlimited data, which is much more cost effective than using your mobile data. 
However, if you have no choice but to use your data for video calling, you can downgrade the resolution of the calls. This effectively reduces mobile data usage, but it may make it harder to see details on your screen.
Background running apps
Many apps continue to run in the background even when you close them. This is how they work, and many of these apps need to do this to function. The more apps you download, the more that you will see this affecting your total data usage each month. Even if you close out of apps after using them, they can continue to run in the background, which is how some apps get information.

How to stop apps running in the background

The simplest way to stop apps from running in the background is to go into your phone settings. From there, you can manage each app individually and see which apps are using mobile data and which apps can run in the background. This is usually done individually and not as a phone system-wide setting.
The setting differs from android devices to iOS devices. Here is how to stop apps running in the background for both systems:
To reduce background mobile data usage on Android phones:
  • Go to Settings > Developer Options.
  • Inside of Developer Options, click the ‘Running Services’ option.
  • On the Running Services page, you can see all the apps that are currently running, and which apps can run in the background.
  • From this list, you can close out any apps that you don’t want to run in the background.
      To reduce background mobile data usage on Apple phones:
    2. Go to Settings > General.
    3. Click on the ‘Background App Refresh’ option.
    4. Then you will see a list of apps that can refresh in the background. You can turn off any of these apps individually by toggling the switch.
        • You can also see which apps use the most mobile data in settings. If needed, you can uninstall unwanted apps that are using a lot of mobile data. Your phone will adjust, and you should immediately see a difference in mobile data usage.

          Mobile data vs Wi-Fi

          Many phones automatically switch between mobile data and Wi-Fi depending on signal strength. If you want to stop mobile data usage, simply make Wi-Fi your primary connection and switch off mobile data. Keep in mind that some phones do not easily allow you to switch between mobile data and Wi-Fi because the phone will automatically switch depending on signal strength.

          Stay on top of your mobile usage

          If you’re with Pennytel, you can check your data balance at any time. Simply login to your Pennytel Account online or via the Mobile app. You will see your balance displayed in a handy circle, with the amount of remaining data shown in the middle. 
          Pennytel mobile customers also receive notifications by SMS when reaching 50%, 85% and 100% of your mobile data inclusion, or whenever you add a 1GB data pack to tide you over if you run out of data.

          The Bottom Line

          Life can be difficult when your mobile phone uses mobile data that you don’t want it to use. But now that you know how to stop mobile data usage from happening, you can have a better experience. This is especially useful for people on low usage data plans.
          With these tips in mind, you should be able to cut down on unnecessary mobile data usage. If you need to, try them out one by one until you find the settings that work best for your phone’s system. 
          Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you reduce your mobile data usage to a fraction of what it used to be.
          Whether you’re a new or an existing customer, Pennytel have mobile plans to suit everyone’s needs. From 1GB or 100GB we’ve got you covered, literally.

          21 January 2022

          Staying socially connected in times of social distancing

          Since social distancing started, it has been hard for many of us to figure out how to keep in touch with our family and friends when we can’t physically see them.

          Even though we’ve had to cut back on the visits with the grandkids and the coffee catch ups with our friends, we are fortunate that in today’s era, modern technology makes it that much easier to stay in contact from afar.

          Keeping in touch with loved ones in times of isolation is critical for our mental health and wellbeing. Whether it’s going for a walk around the park with a mate or chatting over video conference with your relatives, staying socially connected is important, no matter what your age is or where you live.

          That’s why we wanted to share with you some tips and tricks to stay socially connected in times of social distancing!

          And of course, it goes without saying, regardless if you’re living in the Big smoke or out the back of Bourke, your Pennytel Mobile Plan will ensure you have the best coverage! Our friends over at Whistleout also share the Best Phones for Poor Reception Areas so you can get the most out of your mobile coverage.

          Our top 3 rated free video calling apps to download


          Zoom has quickly emerged as the go-to video conferencing app of the moment. No matter what you use the app for – group yoga or fitness classes, playing charades with multiple households or simply watching the same TV show with a friend – it’s an easy and straightforward way to connect over video.

          When you next decide to try it out, why not make it more fun and give yourself a silly background? A quick Google search will reveal plenty of free, funny backgrounds to download. It’s also good to be mindful that there are different plan versions, with the most basic having a time limit on group calls. If security is a concern for you, read some handy tips on how to make your Zoom catchups more private and secure.

          Facebook Messenger

          With Facebook recently announcing you will soon be able to video call with up to 50 people – even if they don’t have a Facebook account – there’s no better time than now to download the Messenger app if you don’t already have it. Currently, you can video call one-on-one with a friend, but with the group video call feature set to have no time limits (a nice luxury compared to other apps), this may be the perfect opportunity to have one big virtual family reunion!


          Last but not least, allowing you to send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos and documents, WhatsApp is a great and well-loved way for communicating with loved ones near and far alike. Like Facebook, WhatsApp recently unveiled a nifty new feature of their own, where you can now have up to 8 people on a voice or video call. WhatsApp is another fantastic app for keeping in touch with those locally and in another country.

          We make it easy for new customers to join us – all you have to do is select your Mobile Plan of choice, sign up online or over the phone, wait for your SIM to be delivered, activate it online or over the phone and.. voila! A great new mobile phone plan, all at a great-value price. Use Wi-Fi to help stay connected, too? We also have a range of honest and easy NBN Plans to suit every household. You can even bundle with your Pennytel Mobile Plan & save!

          Enjoyed this article? You can find more of our articles in the Library.

          17 January 2022

          Is your mobile device secure? Here’s our top password tips to help protect your data

          Our mobile phones have become a vital extension of ourselves, holding so much of our personal information – from photos and contacts, to your tap and payment methods. We place our whole life into our phones with critical personal data that would be devastating if it fell into the wrong hands.

          If your phone is lost or stolen, you can help to keep your data safe from hackers by creating a strong password for your mobile device.
          Here is Pennytel’s top reccomendations for selecting a strong password for both your mobile phone and your critical logins:

          Always have a password on your mobile device

          Let’s start with the basics. If your device is not password protected, your personal information is immediately in the hands of anyone who picks up your phone. Without a password there is no line of defence. Ensure that you always have a password set up on your device.

          Don’t use easy to guess combinations or words

          While simple passwords are easy to remember, they are also the easiest to hack. You can view the top 100 most common passwords here  (Hint: If your password is on this list, change it ASAP).

          You also want to avoid passwords that use your personally identifiable information, such as a birthday or phone number. If someone has access to this information, it will be one of the first combinations they will try when attempting to gain access to your phone.

          Use a 6-digit passcode

          The longer the password, the better! If you prefer the convenience of a digit passcode, you can significantly decrease the hackability of your device by choosing a 6-digit passcode over a 4-digit one.

          A four digit PIN has 10,000 possible combinations, and takes about seven minutes for a computer to guess. However, a six digit pin has a huge 1 million possible combinations, making it a lot harder to crack.

          Choose an alphanumeric password

          Even more secure than a numeric passcode is an alphanumeric code. If your device allows it, we recommend using a password with both numbers and letters as this provides the strongest protection against brute-force attacks. To crack an alphanumeric password with 10 characters would take 150 years!

          Bonus tip: Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts

          If you are unlucky enough that a hacker gets your phone password, they are one step closer to accessing sensitive data on your device, such as access to your online banking. Using different credentials for your password protected accounts will create more roadblocks against hackers when attempting to gain access to your information.

          You need to be vigilant, unfortunately cyber crime is a growing cause for concern. However with a few simple tweaks, you can significantly increase the security of your mobile device, helping to keeping your personal data safe from hackers.

          Whether you’re a new or an existing customer, Pennytel have mobile plans to suit everyone’s needs. From 1GB or 100GB we’ve got you covered, literally.

          18 May 2020

          Cure your board-dom with our board game suggestions

          Along with puzzles, crafts and video on demand subscriptions such as Netflix, board games have become another one of the most sought-after forms of entertainment during this current time. A sure source of fun for various generations, the ability to play board games digitally has proven to be a great way to connect with family and friends, no matter where they are in the world.

          With these free online versions of classic board games, you can either face off against strangers from other countries or take on your loved ones in a fun competition – the choice is yours!

          Our top 4 rated free board games to download

          Scrabble GO

          The ‘Scrabble GO’ app has reimagined this classic board game for the digital era. You can play the standard Scrabble game you know and love or you can test your skills in four new word games. Whichever mode you choose to try out, ‘Scrabble GO’ lets you personalise your playing experience through a range of customisable tiles. It also contains a practice mode, plus a way to track your stats.

          Allowing you to easily play against family and friends while also giving you the opportunity to test your skills against strangers, your brain is sure to get a workout no matter who you go up against!.

          Chess – Play & Learn

          Speaking of brain workouts, chess has been one of the most intellectually stimulating forms of fun for well over a thousand years! Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced veteran, the ‘Chess – Play & Learn’ app has something for everyone. With over 65,000 tactics puzzles to solve, along with thousands of videos and interactive lessons from top Grandmasters, this is a great way to cure your boredom.

          ‘Chess – Play & Learn’ boasts over 10 million members worldwide, meaning you’ll never be short of competition to go up against. Like ‘Scrabble GO’, this chess app also lets you customise your playing experience, with over 20 themes for boards, pieces and backgrounds.

          Connect4 – Classic Board Game

          Want something a little more relaxing? Try out the ‘Connect4 – Classic Board Game’ app. This family favourite can be played by two people on the same device or online against friends or other players from all over the world. There’s also a virtual player you can go up against to test your skills.

          Easy to use with a straightforward and colourful design, Connect4 is a fun way to spend a few hours with the family. You can even collect achievements along the way for that extra bit of enjoyment.

          Fleet Battle: Sea Battle game

          Remember Battleships? It’s now online – and more fun than ever! This strategy game classic of many childhoods lets you play against the computer or your friends as you rise up the ranks from ‘Recruit’ all the way to ‘Admiral of the Navy’, collecting new ships along the way. You can also earn different colours and designs as you progress through the game, meaning there’s always something new to discover.

          Want to play with someone in another country? The app handily features voice-over and text in many other languages in addition to the default English. Featuring 3D graphics to go along with realistic sounds, the ‘Fleet Battle’ app immerses you in the action. With medals to earn and leaderboards to climb, what are you waiting for? Get ready for combat, Commander!

          Enjoyed this article? You can find more of our articles in the Library.

          Fun things our staff did this week

          Here at Pennytel, we all love a good board game, but with social distancing still in effect, our staff have taken to playing board games over video calls with their friends!

          28 September 2020

          Switching Telcos is now easier than ever!

          We don’t always realise it, but customer service plays a larger role than we anticipate in our everyday life. Whether it’s at the shops or over the phone, any form of ‘service’ is always much more pleasant and gives a positive feeling when done right.

          No matter if it’s your first or fiftieth interaction, we often remember the customer service we were given more than the product or service we acquired in the process. This can especially be true today, where getting through to a customer service staff is sometimes harder than necessary.

        • Does the following process sound familiar to you?
        • You wait on hold for what seems like hours.
        • Someone answers the call, but you get passed from person to person.
        • You’re told the relevant individual is unavailable and so you wait for a call back.
        • Finally, by the end of the week, your issue is resolved (if you’re lucky!).
        • What happened to the good old days of customer service? The days when customers mattered, where you’d speak to a real person and weren’t left on hold for 30 minutes at a time?

          Here’s the four hallmarks of great customer service that you should look out for in every company.

          Quick and efficient

          We all know the struggle of calling customer service and having to wait so long that by the time you get past the cliched hold music and repetitive message of ‘all our staff are currently busy’, you’re so frustrated that you’ve probably forgotten what it was you were calling about to begin with. This also happens in-store, where the one time you actually need help finding something, it’s close to impossible to find someone to assist.

          The way to a resolution should be easy for customers – they shouldn’t have to hunt around for someone to ask or call again and again to get an answer. It’s all about putting the customer first and trying to relate to them as much as possible.

          Talking to a real person

          It’s become an all-too-common part of life that we just expect to speak to robots when we call up our bank, our electricity provider or our telco. When did it become normal to suddenly be greeted by an electronic voice, asking you to “in a few words, explain the reason for your call”?

          Most times you just want to talk to a real person, but all you get is a pestering chatbot on a website or a robot on the phone asking you to press different numbers as it attempts to direct you to the right department. People value human to human connections a lot more than the ‘convenience’ of robots.

          Service with a smile

          Perhaps one of the most overlooked parts of delivering great customer service is in the friendliness of the staff. Someone smiling at you, asking how you are and offering to help can sometimes mean the difference between buying something at that store or walking out before you even browse.

          A helpful attitude and a positive approach can go a long way. Think about the last restaurant you went to, for instance – what stands out more, the food you ate or the way the waitstaff were attentive, timely and informative? People have long memories, so customer service needs to be done right the first time.


          One of the cornerstones of customer service should always be empathy. A good customer service experience will leave you with a sense of being understood and heard. That’s why it’s so important that organisations listen to their customers, whether they have a positive experience or a negative one to share, whether they’re asking a simple question or requiring help with a complex situation.


          “Great value, good communicators, faultless and fast service with coverage on the Telstra network. I would highly recommend Pennytel as an alternative telco provider to anyone wanting a better deal.”

          Ross from ProductReview.com.au

          28 September 2020

          Switching Telcos is now easier than ever!

          If you were going to create a list of fun things to do, we doubt that ‘switching telco providers’ would make it on the list. Often thought of as a stressful and frustrating process, many people simply don’t switch providers for the fear of it being too complicated, too time-consuming or not worth the hassle of just saving a few dollars.

          However, we’re here to show you that it’s actually much simpler than you think! Has one of the below reasons stopped you from switching? Read on to find out why switching telcos is now easier than ever.

          Keeping your number

          A lot of people are understandably worried about losing their number when switching to a different telco. Just like when you change your email address, it’s a hassle to have to update all your friends and family and there is always the fear that you might miss out on updating a loved one with new details.

          When you transfer your number to a new mobile provider, this is often referred to as ‘number porting’. It is now a common and widely practiced process, and most mobile providers – Pennytel included – will give you the option to do so when you sign up. If you wish to get a brand-new number, that is also a possibility.

          You can read more about keeping your number on the ACCC website.

          Locked in a contract

          If you’re in a contract with your current telco, not to worry – it’s important you check the Critical Information Summary (CIS) for the terms of your contract, when the contract ends and any exit fees if you leave early. Once you are equipped with this information, it will be much easier for you to plan for the right time to sign up with a new telco.

          Reading the CIS of the plan from the telco you’re trying to switch to is always beneficial, so you are fully aware of everything. You may even be pleasantly surprised, as many great plans these days are no lock-in, like Pennytel’s own great value plans.

          Don’t let being locked in a contract stop you from shopping around and switching telcos.

          SIM-only plans

          Many people expect mobile phone plans to be bundled with a new phone, especially if it’s from a provider that offers both. However, that’s not the case these days! You’re able to get a SIM-only, post-paid plan, which means that you can just pay for the mobile phone service and keep your existing phone.

          If you’re switching to another provider, you don’t need to get a new phone and this applies to whether you’re keeping your existing number or getting a new one. All you’ll need is a SIM card, provided by your new telco of choice, and you’re good to go.

          With all of that to consider, it’s no surprise that some people are reluctant to switch telcos! But remember, switching to a different mobile provider really can be a simple process, especially if it’s anything like Pennytel switchover process!

          We make it easy for new customers to join us – all you have to do is select your mobile plan of choice, sign up online or over the phone, wait for your SIM to be delivered, activate it online or over the phone and.. voila! A great new mobile phone plan, all at a great-value price.

          Enjoyed this article? You can find more of our articles in the Library.