It’s easy to access almost anything on a smartphone or tablet. Playlists, viral videos, directions to dinner — they’re just a click away. But all that browsing, streaming and searching can quickly eat up data. For parents whose kids have mobile devices of their own, this is a particularly big concern, given how much data some mobile functions require. Topping out a monthly data plan might happen with a week or more left on the billing cycle, and no parent wants to pay overage charges.
By following these 6 smart, simple tips for managing phone time, monitoring data usage and generally staying ahead of the game, families can avoid burning through their data allotments each month under their plans.
1. Always connect to Wi-Fi
Whenever and wherever a secure wireless network is available, connect. Wi-Fi is a critical tool in reducing data usage. Browsing the internet while waiting in line at the local coffee shop? Save the Wi-Fi password in your wireless settings so you don't chew up data. Your device will remember each individual network and log on automatically whenever it's in range. A word of caution: Though password-protected networks are generally more secure than open networks, it's not advisable to access sensitive personal accounts while you're "in the wild." Use caution and good judgment.
2. Update apps and stream video on Wi-Fi
Some apps top out at more than 100 MB, and regularly downloading them without a network connection can quickly eat into data allotments. Thankfully, devices can be set up to either manually update apps or download them only when the device is connected to a Wi-Fi network. The same Wi-Fi only rules apply to streaming video too, which uses roughly 350 MB an hour. Making a conscious effort to limit downloading big files and streaming video without a Wi-Fi connection will go a long way toward curbing data usage.
3. Manage notifications
A laundry list of notifications and alerts can take a toll on data usage. Think about what is most necessary and urgent to your life and work - and cut out all the app alerts and push notifications you don't need. Notifications, after all, are programmable. Don't need to keep up on work email on weekends? Disable email and push notifications on Friday. Those weekends add up, and by the end of the month you'll have reclaimed all that data that would've otherwise gone to notifications.
4. Download music
Many streaming apps allow subscribers to download their favorite tunes so they can listen without an internet connection. Users should take full advantage of this, because streaming music comes at a cost: Popular streaming apps use 1 GB of data between roughly 7 and 9 hours of use, which can saddle music lovers with a hefty data bill in a hurry.
5. Close your apps when you’re not using them
Once opened, apps - especially those that provide location services - continue sending and receiving data even when a device is locked. It wastes data and can drain battery life as well.
6. Monitor your data usage
The key to managing data is to understand where the heaviest usage is coming from and adjust accordingly — whether that means adding more data or finding ways to scale back habits. The My Verizon Mobile app's Data Hub gives Verizon users a clear view of up-to-the-minute data usage: where it’s coming from and how much is left. Subscribers can set up alerts to be notified when they hit certain percentages during a billing cycle. And if you’re nearing your limit, you can add extra data right from the app.
Be sure to check out a complete parents' guide to kids and tech on Verizon's Family Tech page today.