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Tips for tackling a ballooning cellphone bill

Wednesday - 4/18/2012, 6:35am  ET

WASHINGTON - Smartphones can pull off a growing number of high-tech tasks, but the cost of cell phone service is growing as well.

The average cellphone bill is now $71 a month, up 31 percent since 2009, according to J.D. Power & Associates. That cost can quickly rise to more than $200 for a family of four.

CNNMoney has outlined several steps to help counter the rising cost of wireless.

  • Sorry kids -- It's time for mom and dad to intervene. Parents should ask their carriers about parental controls to limit texts, minutes and the amount of money spent on apps. Teens can really crank up bills. A 2010 Nielsen survey found the average teenager sends or receives more than 3,000 texts a month.
  • Create a family budget -- Sascha Segan, a cellphone analyst at PCMag.com, suggests setting up text alerts to keep tabs on your teen's phone usage. And let them know there will be restrictions if exceed limits.
  • Dial down data usage -- Avoid streaming content, which eats up bandwidth and can cause smartphone owners to go over their data allowances. Use a website's mobile version instead of the full version.
  • Call or text for free -- Make use of apps like Skype, Google+ and Hangouts.

WTOP's Mitch Miller contributed to this report. Follow Mitchell and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)