‘My tween wants a mobile phone. But how early is too early?’

Thanks to our brand partner, Optus

As a parent of multiple teens and tweens, mobile phone use is a contentious issue. Deciding when to get one, the type of phone to choose, what features to allow, how to navigate internet use, social media... it’s a minefield. 

And as time goes on, it seems children are asking for – and expecting – phones earlier and earlier. Combine that with older children who already have a phone, and it’s a lot of pester power thrust onto parents. 

I’m in a blended family with five children. The eldest received his first phone as a teenager for his first year of secondary school, and we made the decision that we’d follow suit with all the younger kids. 

Fast forward a few years, and four out of five are connected to Optus, while my youngest – at almost 10 years of age – should have a good three more years to go.

Only, she doesn’t want to wait three years, and she's put up a solid case as to why she shouldn’t have to. She’s starting a new school next year, she reminded us. She’ll be in Grade 5, and will be catching the bus for the first time. Granted, her older brother will be on the same bus, but as my daughter points out, she can’t rely on someone else all the time, plus he may have days off school. 

She makes a good point. 

I really don’t like the idea of her catching the bus to and from school without my being able to contact her, or her me, and without the ability to track her whereabouts through the family tracking apps on which I've come to rely.

But at just nine years of age, there’s so much to consider.

For starters, there’s the issue of online safety. The internet can be a treacherous space, and handing my child a device with unrestricted access to it feels like letting her explore uncharted territory, potentially dangerous. How do I ensure they're shielded from inappropriate content, cyberbullying, or potential online predators? 


Then there's screen time. With a mobile phone in hand, will my tween become glued to the screen, forsaking face-to-face interactions and outdoor play? Then again, she already has a tablet, and let’s face it, it’s our job as parents to restrict access.

There's also the financial aspect. Mobile phones come with costs beyond the initial purchase – data plans, apps, and potential in-app purchases. 

How do I manage these expenses responsibly while teaching my tween about financial awareness?

When we weighed everything up – the risks, her relatively young age, the safety benefits, our ability or lack thereof to contact her, connectivity, etc. – we decided next year will be the year she receives her first phone, just in time to catch the bus to her new school. 

With a crazy busy lifestyle, it also enables us to contact her if we need to change plans, such as deciding to collect her from school, or a grandparent picking her up – something that happens at least once per week at our place.

The great thing about connecting with Optus is that there’s a phone and plan option suitable for each member of the family, regardless of their age or needs, meaning we can keep everyone connected – including the newest addition. 

At just $1 per month for the device repayments when you get it with an Optus plan and stay connected for 36 months, the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is an affordable and budget friendly option, perfect for our tween-aged first-time phone user. 

Offering both affordability and simplicity, this phone has been designed with the latest innovative smartphone features, including great camera capabilities and a big, bright screen, perfect for first-timers. The battery life is long lasting, another great safety feature, especially for tweens who often forget to pop their devices on the charger. 


There’s 128GB of storage so it can comfortably handle the massive number of photos a tween will undoubtedly take, and high-tech biometric authentication means sensitive information is protected from the moment it’s turned on. 

One of the benefits of signing up to Optus is the ability to switch on unlimited data for 24 hours when you need it. If you have an eligible plan, you can turn on Unlimited Data Day by logging into the My Optus app and making the purchase online. The feature is usually activated within 15 minutes, meaning you’ll be able to deal with any connection emergencies quickly – whether they’re on the way to or from school or out and about. 

Family tracking apps require data too, so the ability to flick on additional data is fantastic peace of mind for parents like me who want to know where their children are at all times. 

Making the decision to connect your tween to the digital world isn’t an easy one, but with Optus, there are solutions for parents to empower and protect their children in this digital age.

Set up your kids for the new school year with Optus. Explore their variety of budget-friendly phones, plans, and offers, such as Unlimited Data Day here.

Galaxy A14 5G: Min cost $418.20. 128GB model. Discount applied monthly over 36 months and forfeited if you cancel early. Not applicable with other offers. Offer available while stocks last. 

5G available in selected areas. Actual speeds may vary by area. Check website for details. 

Unlimited Data Day: T&C’s and eligibility criteria apply. $5 per day on select plans. See here for details. 

Feature Image: Supplied. 

Get your family school ready with a range of best for learning devices, plans and more at Optus.