Parents regret giving smartphones to kids


Half of British children aged 11 own a mobile phone, but parents wish they hadn’t bothered

Parents in the UK regret buying mobile phones for their children, according to a new study.

Half of British children will own a mobile phone by the age of eleven, according to a study of 2,000 parents that shows the average child will receive a phone worth £120 on their eleventh birthday, and will then spend two hours every day glued to the device. Incredibly, researchers found one in 20 children will own a mobile handset by the age of six as parents give in to primary school peer pressure.

Yet four in 10 parents end up regretting giving their youngster a phone at such a young age, as by their teenage years the child is transfixed by the likes of social media, texts, and computer games.

A third of parents fear their children spend far too much time on their phone, with one in eight kids spending more than four hours a day chatting to friends and playing games.

Altogether, six in 10 children use their phone to play popular computer games, while 54% will watch videos on the likes of YouTube and other social media channels. More than half of youngsters will spend much of their time surfing the internet, and 49% regularly listen to music.

A fifth of parents are concerned their child’s phone has led to them not enjoying enough quality time with the family, and 16% are concerned their child is missing out on face to face interactions with others.

Also, owning a mobile phone comes at a price for parents; in addition to the £120 upfront fee, mums and dads will be expected to replace the phone at least twice due to it being lost, stolen or damaged. That is on top of the average of £163 parents spend on securing a new mobile phone deal or device for themselves.

One in five mums and dads understandably worry about how much they have to spend on phone calls, apps, music and games. As a result, two thirds of parents control how long their child spend on their phone by limiting their credit (42%), confiscating the device in the evenings (21%) and introducing strict rules on phone use (16%).

Dan King, Nationwide’s head of the FlexPlus Current Account, which commissioned the poll, said: “Mobile phones have become central to our lives, so it’s not surprising that more and more young people are being given a phone. With children as young as primary school age being entrusted with a device, parents shouldn’t be surprised if it needs replacing or repairing on more than one occasion.”

The study, which considers mobile phone ownership amongst children, reveals two thirds of parents will allow their child to have internet access on their device as soon as they get it.

Also, 28% of kids are then allowed to use their phone all day without any supervision from an adult, despite 46% having access to social media channels.

According to the data, one in 10 children will use their mobile during the school day, and 12% will log in to their phone as soon as they get home from school. Just 10% of children can wait until after dinner before checking their phone.

Only one in six parents will limit their child’s phone usage to emergencies only, with many admitting their child uses their phone for a range of activities. But many parents purchase a phone for their children because they want them contactable at all times; 55% want the flexibility to stay in touch and more than a third cite safety fears as a reason for getting a handset for their children.


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