How to Manage Household Data Usage
We’re informed. We’re entertained. We stay connected to what’s important. Living so much of our lives in the digital world, managing the bits and bytes can often be a little overwhelming, especially for those of us unfamiliar with the mechanics of how data consumption relates to your monthly bill. For parents trying to navigate the ever-evolving digital space while raising connected, digitally savvy kids, the challenge can seem even more daunting. Who’s surfing where, who’s streaming all the video and what type of online activity your family enjoys are all questions that need to be answered – or at least considered – when trying to establish a balanced and economical home network or set up your family share plan.
Whether you’re surfing via laptop or sitting on the porch with your tablet, “usage” typically refers to the amount of data your device sends and receives (uploads and downloads) through your connection to the Internet. Watching a video or scrolling your Facebook Newsfeed are examples of data being downloaded to your device, while uploading photos to Instagram or responding to tweets require an upload of data from your device to the Internet. Measured in kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes (KB, MB and GB, respectively), usage can vary greatly depending on the activity, with high-definition video and music streaming typically being among the most common consumption culprits.
Thankfully, there are many ways you can manage the family’s data consumption habits while still allowing everyone to enjoy their favourite online endeavors unfettered. Here are just a few that we found to be the most helpful:
- It’s all about balance. Allot your kids “tech time” and cap their use at a specific hour or establish defined blocks of time on the weekend. Not only will this ensure they develop healthy tech habits and turn to books, board games or physical activity to pass the time, but it’ll also ensure they’re not streaming high-definition YouTube videos well into the night. Home Hub from Bell actually allows you to easily set and manage home internet access and scheduling for everyone in your family, right from your smartphone or tablet.
- Does it need to be HD? When it doesn’t affect the experience, view videos in Standard Definition (SD) instead of High Definition (HD) and teach your family to do the same. That video of a piano-playing cat will be just as funny in SD, and won’t chew up nearly as much data; same logic applies for music streaming.
- Be a good neighbour, but… Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is password protected to ensure your neighbours and their guests aren’t borrowing more than a cup of sugar.
- The more you know. Sign up to receive near real-time email notifications when you’re coming close to the usage allowance included in your monthly plan. This will help you budget and moderate your remaining usage and keep you from spilling over.
If you’ve done all of the above and still find your family running over your monthly usage allowance, you can always increase your limit or add the unlimited internet feature to your plan. If you have any other tips or tricks on how to manage your family’s household data consumption, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section, below.