Being able to access the internet is very beneficial because it allows people to keep up to date with the news, contact people in other countries, and access educational information. One way to access the internet is through a mobile phone, and while cheaper smart phones are becoming available, data costs can still be expensive. This means a lot of people fear using the internet on their phone in case they get charged a lot of money. There are however many ways to use your data more effectively and make sure you don’t end up with costly data charges.
WHAT IS DATA?
Data allows you to access the internet without using Wi-Fi. Data allowance is measured in something called megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB) and can be expensive at around $5 per GB. This means many people avoid using the internet because they fear being charged a lot of money. There are many ways to maximise how you can use your data which means you are able to make the most of the internet and its benefits.
USE WIFI WHEREVER POSSIBLE
All smartphones will allow you to use Wi-Fi, and if you are connected to Wi-Fi, anything you do that uses the internet on your phone, will not lead to data charges. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, service providers are developing Wi-Fi hotspots to allow people to connect to the internet in public places such as airports, hotels and restaurants. Google has also announced plans to expand Wi-Fi access in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is helpful to therefore be aware of places where there may be Wi-Fi, allowing you to access the internet without using up data.
KNOW HOW MUCH DATA DIFFERENT WEBSITES USE
One way to make the most of your data is to have an idea of what activities use up the most data. This means you can avoid the apps or websites that use a lot of data if you don’t really need them. Sending and receiving emails or messages over WhatsApp, and checking Facebook and Twitter are activities which use the internet but won’t use up very much data. On the other hand, streaming songs on Spotify or watching videos on YouTube or Netflix will use up a lot more data.
TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
Notifications are how your phone tells you than an app has become active. Messaging apps will tell you when you have received a message but now many other apps also use them to remind you of things. Most apps that have notifications are always “working in the background” and using up data. If you’re worried about these apps using up data you can switch the notifications off by going to the settings icon on your phone.
SET LIMITS ON YOUR DATA USAGE
You can set reminders or warnings on your phone to tell you when you’ve hit a certain level of data usage. This allows you to use data without worrying that you’ll be using too much. On Android phones you can set limits under the data usage menu, but on iOS phones you would have to use a third-party app such as Data Count or Onavo Count.