Are you considering getting your child or pre-teen cellphone for Christmas?  You may not be alone, as many kids aged 10 – 12 will wake up on Christmas morning hoping to find a cellphone in their Christmas stocking…

But do you know what cellphone contract you should buy for your child alongside their new (or hand-me-down) cellphone?

Tariffic, a South African company that helps businesses and individuals manage and minimise their cellphone bills, has just released its quarterly Tariffic Tracker, which focuses on this exact question and helps identify the best cellphone contracts for kids.

Tariffic has spoken to many kids and parents, and has identified that most kids would be comfortable with a cellphone package offering enough data for a few minutes of YouTube every day (when they’re not connected to WiFi) and a lot of WhatsApp (messaging and calling), as well as sufficient minutes to call parents in an emergency.

Parents are also concerned with their kids being on the wrong package, resulting in a hefty bill shock at the end of the month.

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Based on the above, the criteria for selecting the best cellphone contracts for kids included:

  • The contract must have at least 1 GB of data
  • The contract must have at least 50 minutes for calls
  • Free WhatsApp is a plus but not required
  • Contracts that help avoid bill-shock are preferable

Tariffic then used its proprietary tariff-optimisation engine to find the perfect packages for kids based on these requirements.  The results are interesting in how varied they are.  Commenting on the results, Antony Seeff, Tariffic’s CEO says, “Telkom is clearly the winner, offering the cheapest contract for kids at R133, which is followed by MTN at R199.”

Seeff adds that “it is fascinating to see how much more expensive Vodacom and Cell C were, with their prices being 87% and 109% more expensive than Telkom respectively”.


Tariffic’s top pick, the Telkom 1GB FreeMe package also comes with free WhatsApp which can be used for messages and voice calls, and is very appealing to younger children.

When it comes to choosing what type of contract to get, Tariffic recommends a hybrid or top-up contract.  These contracts are ‘topped up’ every month with certain inclusive value (refer to the table for details of the value included).

When the value is depleted, parents can purchase prepaid airtime or data bundles to top it up.  This way, there is no risk of exorbitant Out of Bundle spend that often catches parents off guard.

These contracts are also available with handset deals if parents are looking to get a cellphone for their kids as well.

Always be cautious when giving kids access to cellphones

Even though parents may be swayed to get a cellphone contract for their children, Tariffic advises that this be done with caution. Tariffic have recommended that parents don’t just give their children a cellphone with a contract without being fully aware of the consequences that come with kids being online, such as cyber-bullying, access to pornography, and other concerns.

There is a variety of parental controls and parental monitoring apps that Tariffic suggests all parents should consider before opening their children up to the dangers of the internet.