While we haven’t yet given it to our tween’s demand for a mobile phone, it would appear most children are given their first handset at the tender age of seven.
According to new research, most youngsters are likely to still be at primary school when they get their first phone.
A survey carried out with 2,300 people for a mobile comparison website, found that, on average, children are given their first handset when they are just seven-and-a-half. That’s a decrease of six years compared with a decade ago as, in 1993, the average age was 13.2 years.
Most parents who took part in the research said they had given their little ones mobile phones because of safety concerns, and for “peace of mind”. For older children, there’s no doubt that being able to stay in touch anytime, anywhere, is important. But, we’re not sure how many seven year olds will be allowed out on their own.
Peer pressure was also found to play a big part in when youngsters got their first mobile, with nearly a quarter of parents saying they had bought mobiles because their child’s classmates already owned one.
While overspending is an issue for many parents, more than half said they had opted for monthly contracts for their youngster, rather than a pay-as-you-go deal.
Young adults said they believed it was much harder for them, than it is now, to get their first handset, with 86 per cent saying they had to “pester” their parents before they were given a mobile.
Concerns have been raised, however, about the ever decreasing age at which children get their first mobile, with some saying young children are put at risk of theft or muggings if they are carrying expensive gadgets around with them. Fears have also been expressed about the effect of radiation, and about mobile phones providing an outlet for cyber bullies.
Adam Cable, director of MobilePhoneChecker.co.uk, which carried out the research, said: “Despite the argument that parents want to keep their children safe at all times, many may think that seven years old is far too young to own a mobile phone.
“However, I have seen four year olds who can work their parents iPhone or iPad perfectly well.
“The protection of children is obviously a key factor in their usage of mobile phones. But, as long as the proper precautions are taken to ensure maximum safety of children using handsets, then they absolutely have their benefits.”
The study was carried out by polling two groups of people in order to provide a direct comparison between the ages at which people were given their first handsets ten years ago and the age at which youngsters now receive their first mobile.
More than a thousand adults, aged between 25 and 30 were asked how old they were when they got their first mobile, while another group – this time parents with children aged 15 and under – were asked about what age they allowed their child to have their own handset.